Friday, November 2, 2012

49ers First Half Progress Report - Offense

Now that the 49ers have reached the mid point in the 2012 season, let's take a look at where things stand.  I will do my grades based on the position groups instead of individual players.

Quarterbacks - B-

The 49ers offense has run 481 plays through the first 8 games, and Colin Kaepernick has participated in 10% of them (48).  Smith currently ranks 5th with an average of 8.0 yards per attempt and his 12 TD passes put him on pace to easily surpass his 17 from a year ago.  Kaepernick has shown flashes of excitement during his few plays at QB with the game in doubt, including 2 TD runs, and a nice gain on a Draw along with a 36 yard completion to set up David Akers for Field Goal attempts right before halftime in Green Bay and against the Giants.

The overall grade would be higher had Smith been able to take advantage of pass heavy game plans against Minnesota and New York.  He has yet to show the ability to be the focal point of the offense and carry the team.  At the end of the day that may not be necessary for the team to reach the ultimate prize.

Running Backs - A-

The 49ers lead the league in rushing with an average of 5.6 yards per carry.  Frank Gore continues to be the focal point of the run game, and he has responded with an average of 5.5 yards per attempt on his 119 carries.  In addition to his rushing, Gore has improved as a receiver this year, adding 16 receptions for 121 yards to his total.  Kendall Hunter, in his second year out of Oklahoma St, has carried the ball 60 times for an average of 5.0 yards, to go with 7 receptions for 49 yards.  Mix in the strong blocking of 2nd year fullback Bruce Miller and you have possibly the best backfield group in the league.

Wide Receivers - B-

The wide receiver group has been the most improved unit on the team in 2012.  After leading the team in receptions in 2011, Michael Crabtree is again leading the way in 2012.  Crabtree has accounted for  39 receptions and 440 yards.  Of Crabtree's receptions 23 have resulted in a first down, and 3 have gone for TD's.  According to Washington Post's NFL Stats Crabtree has also accounted for 242 yards of YAC, which would rank him 10th in the NFL, and 6th among all WR's.

Complimenting Crabtree at the receiver position have been Mario Manningham, 28 receptions for 278 yards 1 TD, Randy Moss, 13 receptions for 235 yards  2 TD's, and Kyle Williams 10 receptions 128 yards 1 TD.

Tight Ends - B

I am giving the TE group a B due not only to their explosiveness in the passing game, but also for the great job they do blocking in the run game.  It is not uncommon to see Delanie Walker line up at the FB spot, or motion into or from that spot.  He has earned high praise from the coaching staff for his ability to block in space.  In addition to his blocking Walker has picked up 7 receptions for 89 yards 1 TD.  The grade for the TE's is a little lower than it could be had Walker not led the team in drops through the first half.

Vernon Davis is possibly the most dynamic player on the offense.  His unique ability to draw coverage has opened up the opportunity for the receivers to get open in the passing game while taking some of his opportunities away.  That said Davis still has 25 receptions for 374 yards 4 TD's on the season.  His run blocking has been stellar as well.

Offensive Line - A-

The offensive line has been the strength of the team leading the way for an offense that ranks 1st in rushing yards and yards per attempt, 5th in passing yards per attempt and 3rd in average yards per play. The only thing holding this group back from an A or A+ is the fact that they have allowed 24 sacks and are on pace to give up more than the total of 44 from a year ago.

Coaching - B

I give Greg Roman a B for the first half of the season, for many of the same reasons that I gave the offensive line an A-.  His offense has produced the 3rd most yards per play in the NFL, leads the league in average yards per rush, and is 5th in average yards per pass.  The only thing that kept me from going to a B+ or A- is his tendency to get away from the balanced approach that puts the team at it's best.

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