Here is a link to my Sunday 49ers column. The full text runs below:
The 49ers’ offense is a dud. If it were a song by Bob Dylan, it would be called “Positively Dud Street.”
If you’re interested in numbers, the 49ers’ offense is a bottom-half kind of offense, tied for 20th in the league with those wimps, the Jets and Bills. All three teams average 20.7 points per game. That comes out to fewer than three touchdowns. That’s not so good.
You want to know a good offensive team, a powerhouse? I’ll tell you.
The Philadelphia Eagles. Or, as they say in Philly, the “Iggles.”
The Eagles use that razzmatazz offense straight from the University of Oregon, brought east by coach Chip Kelly, that get-to-the-line-of-scrimmage-so-fast-the-opponent-is-out-of-breath-and-is-panting-like-a-dog-before-the-ball-gets-snapped offense.
If you’re interested in numbers, the Eagles rank second in offense, averaging 33.7 points per. A way bigger number than the 49ers’ number, if you get my drift.
Am I saying the Eagles will out-number the 49ers on offense? Am I saying the Eagles will defeat the 49ers?
No and no. I merely am setting out the problem — from the Niners’ point of view.
Because the Niners do have a problem. They may also have a solution.
The solution lies in the Eagles’ defense which, to use a colloquialism, ain’t no world beater. The Eagles’ D ranks 25th and gives up 26 points a game — San Francisco allows 22.7. The Eagles don’t have anyone comparable to Patrick Willis or Justin Smith. Forget about it.
The 49ers can score against Philadelphia. And the 49ers can score again and again. It’s merely a matter of doing it.
You have to figure the Eagles will score 30-something. The pressure is on the 49ers’ offense to keep up with Philadelphia score for score. Call it an opportunity. The 49ers can move the ball against these defensive laggards.
But the Niners need to improve in one area. There is a technical term for this one area. Among experts, it is called the second half.
As you know, the 49ers have scored three points in three second halves. Colin Kaepernick, that verbal whiz, chalks up such crummy second-half production to “execution.” More precisely, the lack of execution.
According to his logic — logic? — the players must jog to the locker room at the half and forget how to execute. They could execute a few minutes earlier, but now everything just flies out of their minds. They confuse left for right. They lose track of snap counts. The receivers blank on their routes.
Hey, it can happen. Jim Harbaugh should check on the halftime snack to make sure no one is slipping sleeping pills into the chow.
It says here the 49ers need to score at least 30 points to beat the Eagles. It says here the Niners will not score 30 points in the first half. It says here the 49ers need to score lots of points in the second half. This will be a new wrinkle if they can do it.
How can this second-half underachiever score points?
Hmm. Problems present themselves. Vernon Davis may not play. Bad ankle. Even if he plays, he could be hobbled. FYI: “hobbled,” the adjective, is a word you mostly read in sports stories. Hardly anyone actually says hobbled. “Eschew” is another word you mostly see in sports stories: “Kaepernick eschewed saying more than one word in answer to a question.” Anyway, Davis could be hobbled today. And if he is, the 49ers lack a deep threat.
Without Davis in last week’s loss to Arizona, the 49ers tried to manufacture long drives consisting of short passes and a few runs. It was an admirable strategy. The strategy worked twice — they scored two TDs. But long slow methodical drives carry a risk. The team — i.e. the Niners — cannot afford to make mistakes.
In, say, a 13-play drive, one mistake can ruin the whole masterpiece. It’s like Leonardo da Vinci doing a really great job on the Mona Lisa’s face but giving her a busted nose. Opposing defenses count on the Niners making the drive-killing mistake, especially in the second half.
And the 49ers do make lots of mistakes. They are the most-penalized team in the league with 36 penalties, a record-breaking pace.
Kaepernick is a known time-waster at the line of scrimmage. Call him a dilly-dallier. Maybe he’s thinking which shades to wear at his postgame presser. He calls timeouts from sheer desperation or gets plays off at the last tick-tock of the clock. Confusion galore.
So, here’s what the Niners need to do. They need to score in the second half. They need to clean up their mess in the penalty and clock departments. And they need to do one more thing.
They need to take long shots down the field. They need to think like the Raiders — like the Raiders used to think. The long pass has a virtue. It gets you points fast. You don’t have to embark on a long slog of a drive that looks great at the 50-yard line but peters out in enemy territory. Taking the deep shot is a mistake corrector.
But, hey, Vernon Davis may not be Vernon Davis.
OK, so find someone else to catch the long pass. The Eagles have no pass rush. That gives Kaepernick time. The Eagles’ cornerbacks are bad. Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin, slow as they are, will have time to go deep and the skill to beat the Eagles’ cornerback patsies.
This Eagles’ defense is the worst defense you’ve faced so far, 49ers. Take your shots.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.