Four Downs with the 49er Offense

This week I went 4 downs on offense and defense with Fooch of the great 49ers blog Niners Nation.

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My answer to his questions are over there.

It's been an up and down start so far this year for QB JT O'Sullivan. After three games he was playing well and sporting a nice QB rating. Since then he's thrown 5 picks in 2 games and seems to be regressing a bit. What are your thoughts on him so far?

 At the beginning of the season I stated that I thought this would be a roller coaster season.  Recently I said JTO was a poor/homeless man's Brett Favre.  You're gonna get some big plays and you're gonna get some ugly plays.  Thus far the difference has been that Favre will make 2 great plays for every bone-headed play/bad pass, while JTO has been the opposite. 

The interesting thing is that even with the regression he has performed better than any of our QBs last year.  His initial problem was holding onto the ball to long, thus allowing the pressure to get to him.  Lately he's been more inclined to run for the few extra yards, which has been more or less successful.  The current problem is chemistry with most of his receivers.  He's been overthrowing guys a fair amount, with Isaac Bruce being the lone exception.  I think that can be explained by the fact that both have more experience in the Martz offense than any other 49ers.  49ers fans are hoping the same chemistry will come with more practice time with the other receivers.

Coming out of college, I expected Vernon Davis to become the best TE in the game. I was really high on that guy... but it seems so far he hasn't gotten close to living up to expectations. What has been behind his struggles so far?

Well, last season Davis finished 4th among NFC tight ends in receptions and seemed to be ready to take the next step.  This season, he has a couple problems, one of which is a positive, but still holds him back.  One problem has been his route running.  The Martz offense requires precision route running virtually down to the inch.  I think the Duke has had a problem with that.  The second problem would be his occasional brick hands.  He's had several drops on what could have been big plays.  The final "problem" is that he excels as a blocker so the team has used him in blocking fairly often.  Of course given his salary and the expectations, that does not site well with 49ers fans.  I was worried about the chemistry between Davis and JTO, but they've been staying after virtually every practice working together.  The early plus was that teams would be covering Davis on his deep routes, opening up the smaller routes for Bruce and Johnson.  Unfortunately teams are not playing Davis as honest now and he has yet to burn them for it.  Prior to the season there were predictions his receptions would go down but his YPC would go up.  For now all is down across the board and I honestly can't predict when it might come back up.

The 49er offense is kinda of an interesting study. Judging by the stats, they can put up points well enough but seem to struggle moving the ball. They're in the middle of the league in points but towards the bottom in yardage. How would you explain that?

Well, against the Patriots, they had a big turnover that set them up on the Patriots 30.  They've been getting some good returns from Rossum to put them in good field position.  I think the big problem though is that the offense is very much feast or famine.  Against the Patriots they dominated on offense in the first quarter getting a pair of touchdowns.  Then for 2+ quarters they were 3 and out every other series.  In their losses they've been absolutely dominated in time of possession.  I think it all comes down to a feast or famine style of offense.  Most 49ers fans think if they would use Gore a little bit more (in spite of him being among the league leaders in total offense) they could burn some more time and get more consistent on offense.

Who is a guy on the 49er offense that Eagles fans might not have heard of now but you think will make a big impact this Sunday?

On offense, rookie wide receiver Josh Morgan is a guy 49ers fans were high on early in training camp.  Due to injuries to other receivers he got a lot of time with the first team offense and was the leading receiver through two games.  However, he suffered a staph infection, causing him to miss the last two preseason games and lose 15 pounds.  He's finally healthy again and is looking to regain the chemistry he had with O'Sullivan.  At some point I think it will click again and we're certainly hoping it's soon rather than later.

Thanks again to Niners Nation for knowledge... Coming up next, we go 4 downs with the 49er defense.

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