49ers can’t laugh off pass protection issues
After the San Francisco 49ers beat the Detroit Lions last Sunday Night Football, offensive tackle Joe Staley stated the Lions defensive line was overrated stating, “They didn’t want any part of us up front. Look at the game. We killed them. Every single pressure they got was cheap. It was on a keep or something like that. They weren’t beating us one on. We ran for about 200 yards on the so-called best D-line in all of football.” and Staley may be right about the Lions, but Smith was still hit or sacked 26% of the time he dropped back to pass during the game.
The 49ers do not throw the ball as much as every other team in the NFL and these cheap pressures as they are called by Staley will eventually wear down Alex Smith’s effectiveness in the pocket as the season goes on. Smith on the season has been hit or sacked 23% of the time he drops back to pass and that cannot continue going forward.
Every time Alex Smith gets hit is the chance of suffering a concussion and a concussion can keep you out of the game for weeks if not end careers as was seen with Steve Young. Alex Smith has already gotten a bloody nose; because of the punishment he is putting his body under running the ball.
The next quarterback up from Alex Smith is second year quarterback Colin Kaepernick who is largely unproven in the regular season to have a significant impact if he is called upon. There also is the issue of the divisional opponents to be dealt with as well.
The Arizona Cardinals defense has come out the gate with one of the most formidable pass rushes ever seen in a long time in their franchises history. The Cardinals are fourth in total sacks with 7 and 13 QB hits this early in the season.
As much as the San Francisco 49ers may be the best team in the NFC, the Cardinals are 2-0 as well in the division. If the 49ers can’t minimize the amount of pressure on Alex Smith, then it is basically gambling with the quarterback you need to take you to a championship.
The 49ers will fix these issues going forward guaranteed, but it is now the biggest concern offensively for the 49ers. It’s nitpicking what is wrong with this team, but it has to be fixed for this team to finally reach the Super Bowl where the 49ers need to be. 49ers can’t laugh off pass protection issues, because eventually it won’t be a laughing matter losing the NFC West.
James Cobern is a Featured Journalist for TPF and can be contacted at JCobern@ThePenaltyFlagBlog.com.