Ken Whisenhunt called it a test, Monday night’s game. The grade was not good. The defeat was very methodical, but that’s the 49ers, isn’t it? The Niners’ run game gashed the Cards early, then when the Cards stiffened San Francisco went to the air, and it’s just too hard to score against that defense. Not when the Cards’ offense is looking for answers.
“We have to get tougher and more physical and get after them that way because at this point we aren’t doing a whole bunch of things successfully,” center Lyle Sendlein said. “We just have to start punching people in the mouth.”
There was absolutely no room to run. LaRod Stephens-Howling was swamped almost every time he carried the ball, and the run game was hurting more than it was helping. With a game in Lambeau this coming weekend against an offense that can score a lot more than the 49ers do, the Cards need to find a way to generate more points. Yes, that’s obvious. But that’s also the fact.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt was asked if he was comfortable with the starting offense. Like Larry Fitzgerald said later, noting that the guys in the locker room were the ones who were going to be in it for the long haul, Whiz knows options are limited.
“I guess we don’t have a lot of choices,” Whisenhunt said. “We’re always looking to get better, but we have to do a better job of taking advantage of our opportunities.”
So, although the trading deadline is coming up, I’m not expecting Steven Jackson or DeAngelo Williams to come walking through that door. And certainly not Kurt Warner.
— Darnell Dockett said the first thing after the loss he thought of wasn’t the four-game losing streak. It was Whisenhunt.
“We are letting our coach down,” Dockett said. “I think Coach Whiz is very fair with us, he’s a player’s coach and I feel like as players we are not giving enough back to him. I felt that more than anything after the game. He’s really been looking out for us. He works us hard but he wants us to be more mature. I felt we let him down in the Buffalo game. He asked us to give him everything we got and I felt some of us didn’t. We didn’t last week. I can see it on his face.”
— Dockett talked about players staying professional, which is why they won’t slide off the map this season, even with things looking grim. But he said he was ready to say some things that were said first by Whisenhunt.
“Coach called out a lot of things today that I wanted to say to some guys,” Dockett said. “Guys in the training room that we need on the field. We need them. Hopefully the message rings a bell.”
— That was the first time the Cards had allowed more than 21 points in a game this season. The defense did not play well, and in a game that was supposed to be a tight, defensive affair, the early missed tackles are unacceptable. But it’s not like the Niners hung 45 on them.
— That huge hit Dashon Goldson put on Early Doucet made me think of the scuffle they got into last year. Not that it had anything to do with the hit itself, but funny how those two keep meeting. Physically.
— Niners coach Jim Harbaugh obviously didn’t like the stories about quarterback Alex Smith losing confidence or Harbaugh losing confidence in him. So, after Smith completed 18 of 19 passes and was nearly perfect, Harbaugh had his shot when asked about the showing helping Smith’s confidence.
“I don’t think there was ever a question there,” Harbaugh said. “I think it’s just a lot of gobble, gobble, turkey. Just gobble, gobble, gobble, turkey. That paints a pretty good picture. He’s a very confident guy.”
— Linebacker Daryl Washington had two sacks again. He becomes the first Cardinal to have two sacks in back-to-back games since Eric Swann did it back in 1999.
— The Cardinals are only the third team ever to start a season 4-0 and then lose their next four games. The first team to do that, the 1993 Philadelphia Eagles, finished the season 8-8. OK, not ideal. But the 2002 Oakland Raiders ended up going 11-5 and making it to the Super Bowl. Obviously, I’m not predicting that, but this losing streak does not have to be a death knell.
— Now, if the Cards can’t generate more offense, well, that could be the death knell. I can’t remember points being at such a premium for this team. But they were finding ways to score some points earlier this season. It can’t be that they have just forgotten. They’ll never be the Patriots or Packers, but it shouldn’t be like this and they know it. That’s why the frustration grows.
It’s late. It’s a short week, and I have a long drive home. We can talk more tomorrow.
Tags: 49ers, Alex Smith, Darnell Dockett, Daryl Washington, Dashon Goldson, Early Doucet, Jim Harbaugh, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Lyle Sendlein
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