NFL Nation: 49ers-Colts

INDIANAPOLIS -- Alex Smith won't hold up his Sunday afternoon stat line with pride, but the San Francisco 49ers' quarterback wasn't as bad as the numbers suggested.

Smith
Smith
Smith, who completed 3 of 9 passes for 37 yards and a 7.4 rating during the 49ers' 37-17 exhibition victory over the Indianapolis Colts, did appear inaccurate with some of his throws. Turns out Smith threw the ball to its intended location on the two plays that stood out most.

Smith and tight end Vernon Davis misread one another on the play where it appeared as though Smith missed a wide-open Davis by a couple yards over the middle. Davis adjusted the end of his route in a manner Smith did not anticipate.

"We had a Cover 4 look and Vernon is really the only look there," Smith said. "He ran a great route and really nodded the guy hard and got the safety to jump outside, then went inside. It was something I hadn't anticipated, something we hadn't had a lot of work on because obviously we are not running all our stuff right now."

Smith took a five-step drop and fired the ball.

"Threw it where I wanted it," Smith said. "It was just a communication where I didn't know he was going to go through that kind of a nod move there. It's something we'll look at on film. Maybe it's a deal where he ran such a good route, maybe it's something we go to, maybe not."

Backup tight end Delanie Walker was to blame for the one interception Smith threw. The coverage was tight, but Walker had a chance at the ball, which bounced to a defensive back.

"Delanie jumped a little early and I felt he should have caught the ball," coach Mike Singletary said, "so it was just one of those things where the quarterback and the receiver have to continue to clean up and be more detailed on their routes, their decision-making."

The 49ers' backup quarterbacks put up excellent numbers against the Colts' backups. David Carr completed 9 of 11 passes for 98 yards, one touchdown and a 134.1 rating. Third-stringer Nate Davis completed 5 of 6 passes for 84 yards and a 118.8 rating.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

  Clements
49ers cornerback Nate Clements suffered a broken shoulder blade against the Colts, putting the rest of his season in jeopardy.

Players sometimes return from this injury without missing the rest of the season. Much will depend on the nature of the break. If the shoulder blade broke into multiple pieces or broke off near the joint, Clements could face a more complicated rehabilitation.

The 49ers have pretty good depth at cornerback now that Shawntae Spencer is healthy and playing well.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

A few thoughts as NFC West games approach in Week 8:
  • The 49ers need more from their offensive line. I'm not sure why the team hasn't given Tony Wragge a chance at one of the guard spots, but perhaps it is time.
  • Recently benched 49ers quarterback Shaun Hill seemed reluctant to push the ball down the field, perhaps a reflection of the coaching staff's emphasis on avoiding mistakes. Alex Smith seemed more comfortable taking those chances. Smith has nothing to gain by mimicking Hill. He needs to cut loose a little bit. I expect him to play aggressively.
  • Nate Clements is not finished as a starting cornerback for the 49ers. He hasn't looked right at times this season, particularly recently, and he was never a shutdown cornerback, but Clements can still be a good player, in my view.
  • Kurt Warner should pay special attention to getting rid of the ball quickly early in the game against the Panthers. He basically needs to convince Carolina that its pass rush isn't going to get there no matter how well Julius Peppers and the Panthers apply pressure. Warner did this effectively in the playoff game against the Panthers last season, as I recall. Once that happens, a quarterback can take more time later in the game.
  • Jake Delhomme's interceptions appear almost entirely responsible for the Panthers' struggles this season. Carolina seems to have a good offensive line. Massive turnover on the coaching staff could be hurting the Panthers, but this team shouldn't be nearly this bad. Delhomme's problems have transcended situations, but his numbers against added pressure are second-worst in the league among quarterbacks with at least 10 attempts. The numbers, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information: 22-of-47 passing for 315 yards with one touchdown, six interceptions and a 36.5 rating. Ouch. Delhomme has three touchdowns and seven interceptions against standard pressure.
  • The Seahawks expected their running game to hit stride at about this part of the season, but that assumed at least some continuity on the offensive line. The constant shuffling up front will likely delay the ground game's emergence, putting additional pressure on Matt Hasselbeck to carry the offense -- a tough task for a team that seems to change left tackles every week or two.
  • Nate Burleson has been the Seahawks' best wide receiver. He ranks ninth among NFL wide receivers with 157 yards after the catch, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The top eight: Wes Welker (266), Hines Ward (235), Miles Austin (225), Andre Johnson (224), DeSean Jackson (208), Santonio Holmes (206), Hakeem Nicks (173) and Roddy White (171).
  • Something has to give when the Rams' weak pass offense meets the Lions' weak pass defense. Detroit has allowed 17 passing touchdowns this season. The Rams have scored only five. Opposing quarterbacks have a 117.8 rating against the Lions this season. If the Rams cannot have success against this pass defense, then what?
  • The Lions' Calvin Johnson and the Rams' Steven Jackson have combined for one touchdown this season (Johnson scored it). I like both players' chances of finding the end zone in Week 8, assuming Johnson's injured knee allows him to contribute. (Update: Calvin Johnson is inactive for today's game)

I'm heading to University of Phoenix Stadium shortly to watch the early games on TV and the Panthers-Cardinals game in person. Have a great first day of November.

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