Thursday, November 24, 2011
Wrap-up: Ravens 16, 49ers 6
By Mike Sando
Thoughts on the San Francisco 49ers' 16-6 road defeat to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 12:
What it means: The 49ers dropped to 9-2 and can no longer clinch the NFC West title in Week 12. Their offense was not ready to handle a physical, formidable defense in a big game on the road. This game served as a reminder that defense and special teams will not always be enough for San Francisco to beat strong opponents. But there's no reason for the 49ers to panic. They lost a hard-fought, low-scoring game to a playoff-tested opponent on a short week following a cross-country road trip. No shame there.
What I liked: The 49ers still have not allowed a rushing touchdown this season. This was also the 32nd consecutive game they've played without allowing a 100-yard rusher. Those are the longest active streaks in the NFL. Quarterback Alex Smith found Michael Crabtree for a first down on a third-and-17 play when the game was in danger of slipping away in the second half. Smith scrambled for a first down on a first-and-10 play shortly thereafter. David Akers connected on a 52-yard field-goal try, his sixth successful try in as many chances from 50 yards or longer. The 49ers' defense prevented Ravens receiver Torrey Smith from beating them deep.
What I didn't like: Two penalties against the 49ers made this game an uphill fight for them. A chop block against Frank Gore nullified a 75-yard touchdown pass from Alex Smith to Ted Ginn Jr. Later, the Ravens gained 50 yards when 49ers cornerback Tarell Brown committed pass interference while picking off a pass. The call against Gore seemed ticky-tack to me, but Mike Pereira, the Fox analyst and former NFL officiating czar, said the call was technically correct. The 49ers' offense had problems handling the Ravens' pass-rush, both physically and tactically. Losing right guard Adam Snyder to injury was one factor, but not the only one. Smith took nine sacks, the most for a 49ers team since 1952, according to Pro Football Reference. Smith appeared to lack quick options against pressure, a change from past weeks. Receiver Braylon Edwards was ineffective for the second week in a row. He could have done more to break up the deep pass Baltimore intercepted in the end zone right before halftime. The turnover prevented a field-goal try that could have tied the game. The 49ers were flagged for being offside on their first two kickoffs, the second week in a row special-teams penalties have gone against them. Ginn dropped a pass with 1:15 left when the 49ers trailed by 10, essentially ending the game.
Turning point: The 49ers held a roughly nine-minute advantage in time of possession after driving to the tying field goal on their first possession of the second half. They needed a defensive stop at that point to take control of the game. Instead, the 49ers gave up a 16-play, 76-yard touchdown drive consuming more than seven minutes.
Ravens had the better defense: This could have been a showcase game for Patrick Willis and the 49ers' defense. It was odd to see Ravens fullback Vonta Leach putting a pancake block on Willis early in the game.
Sack disparity: The 49ers allowed nine sacks and never sacked the Ravens. Not since 2006 had one team collected nine or more sacks while allowing none, according to Pro Football Reference.
What's next: The 49ers are home against the St. Louis Rams in Week 13.