49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

September 28, 2010
Smith's passes soaring, stock diving

I just finished watching the television version of the 49ers game in Kansas City. (Spoiler alert: They lost). One thing that jumped out, especially in light of the recent news that team's quarterbacks coach will take over as offensive coordinator, is that the quarterback, Alex Smith, continues to let his passes soar. When Smith misses, he misses high. And that leads to tipped passes. And those lead to interceptions.

A pass to Josh Morgan in the first quarter was too high, tipped and nearly picked off. Another throw on a screen to Brian Westbrook was far too high and incomplete (although the Chiefs had snuffed it out anyway as they did just about every pass play). Another short pass to Vernon Davis in the third quarter was over his head.

The 49ers will unveil Mike Johnson, who has been Smith's position coach since last year, on Thursday. Johnson's No. 1 task is to make Smith more effective. One of my first questions will be why Smith continues to let some throws, especially the short ones, get away from him.

I got a lot of Chilo Rachal questions - as in: Matt, when will Chilo Rachal be benched? - this week. I figured out why after watching the broadcast. Early in the game, color commentator Tim Ryan noted that Adam Snyder, not Rachal, started at right guard when the offensive line played well against the Saints. A few minutes later, Rachal was called for holding, negating a first down.

I watched Rachal on every offensive snap. He is not a quick man. He seemed slow when pulling and slow coming out of his stance, especially in contrast to right tackle Anthony Davis, who comes out very, very quickly. Still, it wasn't an abysmal game for Rachal. None of the offensive linemen played particularly well, Rachal included.

With the change at coordinator for the 49ers, you've probably read that Johnson needs to do a better job than Raye did at finding mismatches and then exploiting them. The Chiefs had two rookie safeties and the 49ers never challenged them in this game.

The Chiefs, meanwhile, seemed to be masterful at that. When rookie NaVorro Bowman entered the game in the third quarter, Kansas City immediately attacked him. They connected on a long gain to Jamaal Charles with Bowman in coverage. On the same drive, Matt Cassel hit tight end Tony Moeaki for an 18-yard touchdown. It actually was perfect coverage by Bowman, but the point is that the Chiefs were aggressive in probing for weaknesses in the 49ers. On thee other side of the ball, the 49ers were not.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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