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The Film Don't Lie: 49ers

10/6/2014

A weekly look at what the San Francisco 49ers must fix.

It was an issue even when Alex Smith was the 49ers' quarterback, so while it would be easy to throw the bulk of the blame at Colin Kaepernick's feet, the Niners' red zone issues go deeper. Much deeper. And it's something the St. Louis Rams might help the Niners fix come Monday night on ESPN.

Through five games, the 49ers have scored a touchdown on 44.4 percent of their red zone trips, which ranks a ghastly 25th in the NFL. The Rams, meanwhile, have allowed a TD on 50 percent of their opponents' trips into the red zone.

The 49ers were just 1-for-4 in red zone efficiency Sunday in a 22-17 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, five Phil Dawson field goals propelling San Francisco.

"There was a couple there where I really thought we were going to knock it in," Niners coach Jim Harbaugh said in his weekly media conference Monday. "Starting from the last drive, I really felt we were going to knock that in and Tamba Hali made a great play. We were at the 9-yard line. Cut the fat, skimmed the edge, went straight to the running back and got Carlos Hyde at the line of scrimmage. Really, when you talk about pursuit, that was pursuit at the highest level."

Hyde was thrown for a 1-yard loss by free safety Husain Abdullah and linebacker James-Michael Johnson on first-and-goal from the 9-yard line with just over three minutes to play.

"And then the next play call was mine," Harbaugh said. "I really felt if he was going to pursue like that, then we could run the quarterback, keep around the edge and Tamba played it different. So, that hurt us on that last attempt to really get the ball into the end zone. He played it different. Kap made a spectacular effort of not losing too many yards, but I got outsmarted on that one."

Kaepernick lost 2 yards on an Abdullah stop, and two plays later, Dawson's 30-yard field goal provided the final score.

The 49ers were 21st in red zone efficiency in 2012, 11th last season.