Kevin C. Cox
Fact: Smitty's blood type is cheetah
Winning is winning. Losing is losing. And Dave armed with a tumbler of scotch is downright scary.
Look, we beat the Seahawks. For now, that's all that matters. But our pass defense against Russell Wilson and company was decidedly mediocre and that's a cause for concern.
For a team with so much money and reputation tied up in their corners, Atlanta got some pretty ugly play from them in this game. Dunta Robinson (-1.3) and Asante Samuel (-3.8) were both allowing catches all game long. Samuel was beaten for five of the seven balls thrown his way, giving up 71 yards on those passes despite batting one away from Sidney Rice in the end zone. Robinson allowed three of the four balls thrown into his coverage to be complete for 34 yards. The problems didn’t limit itself just to the corners with the Atlanta zones allowing free receivers all over the field. William Moore, Stephen Nicholas, Robert McClain and Akeem Dent all graded out in the red for their coverage and combined to surrender another 180 passing yards.
I hate this, because it's not like we're a team that typically struggles against the pass. In fact, as we all know, the 2012 Falcons principally struggled defending the run. I can partially excuse the craptastic pass coverage against the Seahawks. As I mentioned in the post-game summary Sunday night, it's obvious Mike Nolan made a decision with respect to collateral damage in the passing game. In an effort to contain Marshawn Lynch and the read option, the Falcons stacked the box. With our safeties playing up, intermediate passing options availed themselves.
Arguably the key to limiting the 49ers offense is generating pressure on Kaepernick. He's great if there's a lot of open space, or if he has a lot of time in the pocket. But when he's flushed from the pocket, if there aren't open running lanes, Kaepernick isn't very effective. This goes back to the whole chicken and egg dilemma. What came first, the pass rush or the pass coverage? Bottom line is that they're intertwined. In other words, we can't generate pressure if our coverage is lackluster. If our coverage is above-average, sacks, pressure, and QB hits are more likely.
Maybe I'm oversimplifying here, but we need to improve in coverage this week. I'd guess it's number 1 on Smitty's to do list - that or find where he left his safari hat.