Expectations were high for the San Francisco 49ers heading into the 2013 season after making it to the Super Bowl in 2012. Through the first four games of 2013, the team has failed to live up to those expectations on offense. The 49ers have a few bright spots in running back Frank Gore, tight end Vernon Davis, and fullback Bruce Miller, but the offense has much to improve upon. The inconsistent results from the offense’s play calling, wide receivers, and quarterback play merit a C grade at best.
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s questionable play calling has impacted the outcome of some games this season. If the running game had been used effectively against the Indianapolis Colts, the 49ers may have had a chance to win, but Gore only had 3 carries
in the second half. In comparison, the 49ers used the running game much more successfully against the St. Louis Rams where Gore had 20 carries for 153 yards. Overall, Gore has rushed for 295 yards on 61 attempts, with two touchdowns this season. In the last two games against the Colts and Rams he has averaged 7.5 and 7.6 yards per carry. Gore, currently ranked 8th in the league in rushing, has been a very solid performer for the 49ers, although he fumbled once against the Rams.
While the running game may finally be taking off, the 49ers’ wide receivers have struggled all year. Veteran Anquan Boldin has been one of the few consistently open targets for quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Boldin began the season with a bang, earning over 200 yards week 1 against the Green Bay Packers. Since then, his production has cooled off a bit. Against the Rams, Boldin made 5 catches for 90 yards. Overall, he has 24 receptions for 372 yards and 2 touchdowns for the season. Receiver Jon Baldwin, who had two catches against the Rams, has been working out more with Kaepernick lately and is expected to see much more action in the upcoming
game versus the Houston Texans. Beyond those two receivers, the 49ers’ receiving corps has contributed very little to the offense.
Just as the receivers have struggled to establish their roles on offense, Kaepernick also has not gotten off to a stellar start in
2013. While completing 68 of 117 passes for 856 yards and 5 touchdowns, Kaepernick has also thrown 4 interceptions and
made 2 fumbles. He continues to run well when that option is available, however. Kaepernick has gained 140 yards on 26 rush attempts so far this season.
Although Kaepernick and a majority of his receivers have not performed up to par, Davis has performed well when healthy. The veteran tight end has 11 catches for 136 yards and 3 touchdowns this season. Rookie Vance McDonald is still learning the offense but has made some key catches so far this season. McDonald has 4 catches for 59 yards in 2013. It should be interesting to see what the rest of the season holds for him as he develops. Honorable mention on offense goes to Miller who, despite being penalized in the game against the Seattle Seahawks which led to a safety, has excelled in his lead blocking for Gore. Miller has caught 8 passes for 78 yards through four games.
In 2012, the 49ers displayed a fearsome offense, particularly in the playoff game against the Packers. The offense ranked 11th in the
NFL, gaining an average 361.8 yards per game last season. In 2013, the offense is ranked 21st, gaining an average of 331.2 yards per game. If the 49ers want to return to the playoffs this year, the offense needs some tweaking, especially regarding the play calling. The pressure is on Roman to establish a balanced rushing and passing attack to return the 49ers to their competitive form.