Reviewing the San Francisco 49ers 2009 Season

ST. LOUIS - JANUARY 3: Head coach Mike Singletary of the San Francisco 49ers looks on from the sidelines against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on January 3, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri. The 49ers beat the Rams 28-6. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

At first glance, it really looks like Head Coach Mike Singletary has the San Francisco 49ers on the right track. After replacing Mike Nolan (18-37) in 2008, Singletary has led the 49ers to a 13-12 record. Although an 8-8 record in 2009 is certainly not going to satisfy Singletary, it is the most wins they have had since 2002 (10 wins) in Steve Mariucci’s last season. This season started out strong for the 49ers. They started 3-1, but then hit a rough patch where they lost 4 straight. At 3-5, they looked to be out of the playoff hunt, but they kept fighting and finished 5-3 in their last eight games. To me this should give 49ers fans hope for the future. Coach Singletary kept them playing to win when they might have given up on the season. The next question is where do they need the most help. In this continuation of my 2009 NFL Season Reviews, I hope to provide insight into the answer.

Before going further, you should take a look at the Season Reviews Informational Post, if you haven’t already. It describes the methodology and data presented in the following tables. Now that you have reviewed the methodology behind this data, let’s take a look at the data, and I will discuss it below.

Team Offense Value Rank Team Defense Value Rank
Points 330 18 Points 281 4
Yards 4652 27 Yards 5222 15
Cmp 312 Cmp 352
Att 528 Att 580
Pass Yards 3052 22 Pass Yards 3670 21
NY/A 5.4 25 NY/A 5.9 12
Pass TD 23 15 Pass TD 14 2
Pass INTs 14 12 Pass INTs 18 11
Rush Yards 1600 25 Rush Yards 1552 6
Rush TD 12 19 Rush TD 12 14
Y/A 4.3 12 Y/A 3.6 3
Sacks 40 22 Sacks 44 T-3

Table 1


SF Pts Opp D
Opp Pts Opp O
Opp Score Avg Pt Diff1 Score Avg Pt Diff2
Arizona Cardinals 20 20.31 -0.31 16 23.44 -7.44
Seattle Seahawks 23 24.38 -1.38 10 17.5 -7.5
Minnesota Vikings 24 19.5 4.5 27 29.38 -2.38
St. Louis Rams 35 27.25 7.75 0 10.94 -10.94
Atlanta Falcons 10 20.31 -10.31 45 22.69 22.31
Houston Texans 21 20.81 0.19 24 24.25 -0.25
Indianapolis Colts 14 19.19 -5.19 18 26 -8
Tennessee Titans 27 25.13 1.88 34 22.13 11.88
Chicago Bears 10 23.44 -13.44 6 20.44 -14.44
Green Bay Packers 24 18.56 5.44 30 28.81 1.19
Jacksonville Jaguars 20 23.75 -3.75 3 18.13 -15.13
Seattle Seahawks 17 24.38 -7.38 20 17.5 2.5
Arizona Cardinals 24 20.31 3.69 9 23.44 -14.44
Philadelphia Eagles 13 21.06 -8.06 27 26.81 0.19
Detroit Lions 20 30.88 -10.88 6 16.38 -10.38
St. Louis Rams 28 27.25 0.75 6 10.94 -4.94
Sum Difference -36.5 -57.75

Table 2


SF Yds Opp D
Opp Yds Opp O
Opp Gained Avg Yd Diff1 Gained Avg Yd Diff2
Arizona Cardinals 203 346.44 -143.44 299 344.38 -45.38
Seattle Seahawks 379 356.44 22.56 283 316.81 -33.81
Minnesota Vikings 246 305.5 -59.5 377 379.63 -2.63
St. Louis Rams 228 372.81 -144.81 177 279.38 -102.38
Atlanta Falcons 279 348.88 -69.88 477 340.44 136.56
Houston Texans 297 324.88 -27.88 336 383.06 -47.06
Indianapolis Colts 295 339.19 -44.19 410 363.06 46.94
Tennessee Titans 358 365.63 -7.63 315 351.44 -36.44
Chicago Bears 216 337.75 -121.75 350 310.31 39.69
Green Bay Packers 284 284.44 -0.44 484 379.06 104.94
Jacksonville Jaguars 284 352.31 -68.31 357 336.56 20.44
Seattle Seahawks 356 356.44 -0.44 292 316.81 -24.81
Arizona Cardinals 327 346.44 -19.44 245 344.38 -99.38
Philadelphia Eagles 261 321.06 -60.06 422 357.88 64.13
Detroit Lions 310 392.13 -82.13 289 299 -10
St. Louis Rams 329 372.81 -43.81 109 279.38 -170.38
Sum Difference -871.13 -159.56

Table 3


SF P-Yd Opp D
Opp P-Yd Opp O
Opp Gained Avg Pa Diff1 Gained Avg Pa Diff2
Arizona Cardinals 182 233.69 -51.69 259 251 8
Seattle Seahawks 123 245.44 -122.44 217 218.94 -1.94
Minnesota Vikings 188 218.38 -30.38 283 259.75 23.25
St. Louis Rams 132 235.25 -103.25 82 167.88 -85.88
Atlanta Falcons 179 242.06 -63.06 329 223.19 105.81
Houston Texans 238 217.94 20.06 246 290.88 -44.88
Indianapolis Colts 182 212.69 -30.69 349 282.19 66.81
Tennessee Titans 250 258.69 -8.69 163 189.44 -26.44
Chicago Bears 106 211.38 -105.38 307 217.06 89.94
Green Bay Packers 215 201.13 13.88 326 261.25 64.75
Jacksonville Jaguars 232 235.88 -3.88 261 209.75 51.25
Seattle Seahawks 303 245.44 57.56 185 218.94 -33.94
Arizona Cardinals 138 233.69 -95.69 160 251 -91
Philadelphia Eagles 154 216.38 -62.38 306 255.56 50.44
Detroit Lions 226 265.56 -39.56 175 198 -23
St. Louis Rams 204 235.25 -31.25 22 167.88 -145.88
Sum Difference -656.81 7.31

Table 4


SF R-Yd Opp D
Opp R-Yd Opp O
Opp Gained Avg Ru Diff1 Gained Avg Ru Diff2
Arizona Cardinals 21 112.75 -91.75 40 93.38 -53.38
Seattle Seahawks 256 111 145 66 97.88 -31.88
Minnesota Vikings 58 87.13 -29.13 94 119.88 -25.88
St. Louis Rams 96 137.56 -41.56 95 111.5 -16.5
Atlanta Falcons 100 106.81 -6.81 148 117.25 30.75
Houston Texans 59 106.94 -47.94 90 92.19 -2.19
Indianapolis Colts 113 126.5 -13.5 61 80.88 -19.88
Tennessee Titans 108 106.94 1.06 152 162 -10
Chicago Bears 110 126.38 -16.38 43 93.25 -50.25
Green Bay Packers 69 83.31 -14.31 158 117.81 40.19
Jacksonville Jaguars 52 116.44 -64.44 96 126.81 -30.81
Seattle Seahawks 53 111 -58 107 97.88 9.13
Arizona Cardinals 189 112.75 76.25 85 93.38 -8.38
Philadelphia Eagles 107 104.69 2.31 116 102.31 13.69
Detroit Lions 84 126.56 -42.56 114 101 13
St. Louis Rams 125 137.56 -12.56 87 111.5 -24.5
Sum Difference -214.31 -166.88

Table 5

From looking at Table 1, the strength of team was on defense, particularly run defense. Somewhat surprisingly, though, they seemed to tighten up in pass defense in the redzone while loosening up against the run somewhat in the redzone. I would suspect that the high ranking in interceptions helped the points ranking on both sides of the ball, as both the offense and the defense ranked about 10 places higher in points than in yards.

Tables 2-3 confirm that the defense was a greater strength than the offense. In both points and yards, San Francisco’s defense cumulatively outperformed opposing offenses’ season averages. At the same time, their offense underperformed when compared against opposing defenses’ season averages. In fact, the offense gained fewer yards than their opponent’s season average in every game but one (week 2 against Seattle).

Tables 4-5 show us that the passing game is clearly the biggest weakness on the team, with rushing offense being a distant second. For the season, the 49ers gained over 650 passing yards below opponents’ season averages, which was about 3 times the difference in rushing offense. Rush defense, on the other hand, was the biggest strength of the team. It was the only segment in these tables that outperformed opponents’ averages for the season. They did so in 11 games. Passing defense was actually not bad. SF held opposing passing games to just over 7 cumulative yards more than their season averages. So, for the season as a whole, they basically allowed each team what they averaged.

If at all possible, it would seem that the 49ers would aim at improving their passing offense in the first round of this year’s draft. The question is how they go about it. According to scout.com’s draft rankings (subject to change, I know), there are a few players in the top 15 or so that could be a fit for the 49ers needs. They may want to upgrade OT, in which case there are a couple of guys that should be around when the 49ers pick at 13. Or, if they want QB or WR, one of those guys may drop to SF. Since they got Michael Crabtree last year, I would expect them to go away from WR here. Then it may become a question of how confident they are with the QBs on the roster whether they target Jimmy Clausen or Sam Bradford. A stud OL may be the way to go, which should also help improve the rushing game.

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