Despite not dominating the line of scrimmage, the 49ers offensive line proved not to be the deciding factor in Thursday Night’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
When a team comes into Week Five of the NFL season with a record of 1-3, most of the blame usually falls on the coach, the quarterback, or the defense. However, football experts know that games are almost always decided by the battle in the trenches; and that is why this writer chose to focus on the play of the offensive line.
Despite entering Thursday’s game leading the NFC West in average rushing yards per game (114), the 49ers are last in the division in an average time of possession (25:58); a stat that routinely equates to a losing record.
In the first half, San Francisco’s offensive line did a better-than-average job in pass protection; however, they struggled in the running game. Only three times in that half did you see an O-lineman throw a block on the second level of the Cardinals’ defense. In both halves, the Arizona defense regularly put eight men in the box, making it nearly impossible for the 49ers O-line to open holes or cover all the gaps.
The play of the 49ers offensive was fairly effective throughout the majority of the game; the change coming in the fourth quarter, when interceptions and penalties set the 49ers back into a deep hole.
Important to note: The offensive line was credited with surrendering seven sacks. Via, ESPN.com.
In summary, I cannot blame the offensive line for this loss; to the contrary, the key factors in this, and each previous loss are the Chip Kelly offensive scheme, inconsistent play at quarterback, the lack of quality receivers, and horrible tackling by the defense.
So, don’t blame the O-line; they are, for the most part, doing what they are asked to do. Yes, there were sacks and running backs tackled behind the line, but from what I saw, the reason was Blaine Gabbert running into a sack or the defense packing eight or nine men in the box to control the running game.
Can the offensive line get better – yes; but, I believe the offensive scheme has to improve first. The college-style offense that Chip Kelly has in place will not make the O-line look good, ever!
Top offensive grades: LT Joe Staley 78.3 RT Trenton Brown 74.4 RG Andrew Tiller 72.2 C Daniel Kilgore 69.7.
By the way, the average time of possession was exceeded by 3:18 for a total of 28:16 (Arizona had 31:44); yet, still a loss.
All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus,49ers.com, ESPN.com , NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author: Steve Weston, Staff Writer , Editor Niners Live.