Like Jim Harbaugh, NFL Films' Greg Cosell said the nine sacks allowed by the 49ers a week ago in Baltimore were a combination of players getting beat, pass-protection scheme issues and Alex Smith holding the ball too long. Cosell, however, took more time to discuss exactly how the 49ers, especially Smith, can improve in that department. Here's what he had to say on KNBR today:
GC: "Smith is not in the point of his development where he can compensate for or camouflage below average offensive line play. And some quarterbacks can. Peyton Manning is great at that, Drew Brees is great at that. These are teams without great offensive lines. Smith is not quite at that point. And I think therefore the offense has a very difficult time sort of getting going and sustaining offense."
Brian Murphy: Is it just throwing it away or finding a check down?
GC: "No, no, no, no. Not at all. There's many ways to do it. First and foremost, it starts before the ball's even snapped. The recognition based on their defense, based on their fronts and looks where the blitz might be coming from. You'll get fooled once in a while. Even the great ones do. Defenses do an awful lot of things. But you must win before the snap of the ball. The quarterback must be aware that, hey the pressure could be coming from here, let me adjust the protection. That's number 1. The number 2: When the ball is snapped, you have to be decisive with where you're going with the football. The ball has to come out of your hands. You must win against good-pressure teams primarily within the structure of your offense not by becoming random and improvisational. That's not the way to be consistent. Does that happen once in a while? Absolutely. And you can make great plays that way."
BM: A lot of people who watched casually thought that it was because Chilo Rachal came in for Adam Snyder on the right side. In your film breakdown, did that bear out?
GC: "There's no question that I would say the right side of the offensive line individually - and I did say that some (sacks) were individuals - I would say the right side, including Anthony Davis, really struggled with individual pass protection. Watching the tape, the interior three of the 49ers o-line struggled a bit. The Ravens d-line was much quicker and faster on tape. And they certainly didn't handle Haloti Ngata, but a lot of teams can't handle Haloti Ngata."
On correcting issues down the line for a run in the playoffs:
GC: " ... The concern with the Niners, quite frankly, and we've talked about this, and I know a lot of people think that I don't like Alex Smith. That has nothing to do with it. I'm just watching the tape. The issue becomes, they played an offense in the Ravens that, for the most part, you wouldn't call an explosive offense. When the 49ers play a team that can score a lot of points ... let's say they play in the playoffs New Orleans in New Orleans. If they play the Saints in New Orleans and the Packers in Green Bay, it's not likely, in my opinion anyway, that they win those games 13-10. As good as their defense is, and you know from Day 1 when I told you they had the best front seven in football - and I still believe that - as good as that defense is, I still think you have to beat those teams by scoring 24, 27 points. That becomes the issue."
-- Matt Barrows