During NFL training camps, we'll be taking some looks at the local reporting to see what stories the hometown papers and fan blogs are saying about their teams. Today, the San Francisco 49ers and how teams are scared to run against their front seven.
The San Francisco 49ers weren't 13-3 last year because their offense was prolific. The team was ranked 26th in total offense for the 2011 campaign, averaging just over 310 yards per game, though they were 11th in points per game at 23.8. It was the 4th ranked defense that allowed just only 14.3 points per game (only Pittsburgh allowed less at 14.2) that won a lot of games for the Niners.
As Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle points out, teams got pass crazy against SF in the playoffs.
In the NFC divisional playoffs, for example, the Saints attempted 63 passes against San Francisco. In the NFC Championship Game, the Giants attempted 58 passes.
The secondary knows that teams will look at those two games as the possible blue print to scoring on the Niners, which the Saints and Giants both did in those games.
Branch writes that the 49ers secondary has to be prepared to work hard to make sure that they can keep pace once the football starts flying.
This season, the 49ers will face the top three teams in passes attempted from 2011 in the Lions, Saints and Patriots, who each averaged more than 38 passes a game. In addition, they'll also face noted gunslingers in Green Bay's Aaron Rodger and the Giants' Eli Manning.
"We have to prepare for everything," safety Donte Whitner said. "But we have to understand we're not going get 40 runs a game."
The 49ers do figure to get endless three- and four-wide-receiver formations, which will result in plenty of playing time for their reserve cornerbacks. Midway through training camp, the performance of two backups, Chris Culliver and Perrish Cox, has been encouraging, and Tramaine Brock has bounced back after a slow start.
But the Niners are clearly not satisfied with what the offense was bringing to the table. The team is looking to get better at wide receiver, since Frank Gore and the running game remain pretty solid, not to mention the addition of Brandon Jacobs.
So Jim Harbaugh signed Randy Moss out of retirement, and the team is expecting Michael Crabtree, Ted Ginn Jr. and the others to contribute more this year. David Fucillo of ninersnation.com writes that the team seems to be focused on getting more out of Ginn than just decent punt and kickoff returns. The team held a 90-minute mock game today, followed by Harbaugh making some lineup announcements about tomorrow night's first preseason game against the Vikings.
Michael Crabtree and Ted Ginn Jr.will get the starting nods at wide receiver. Coach Harbaugh indicated that Randy Moss would get some playing time.
While getting Crabtree into the game certainly answers a question at the front of many fans' minds, I find the more intriguing news to be that Ginn is getting the starting nod. The general belief among fans has been that Michael Crabtree and Randy Moss would be the starters, with Mario Manningham as the number three and Kyle Williams competing with Ginn and A.J. Jenkins for playing time.
If San Francisco wants to get back deep in the playoffs like last season, they're going to have to figure out a passing game. AlexSmith proved he's better than average, and now he needs to get in the conversation of the elite QBs for the Niners to get back to the NFC Championship Game or beyond.
The 49ers kick off the regular season on September 9th at Green Bay.