Failure to sustain drives hurting 49ers on both sides of the ball

The 49ers’ offense has been inconsistent this season to say the least. After scoring 34 points to open the year against the Packers, the unit was shut down in Weeks 2 and 3 to the tune of 10 total points. In Week 4 they seemed to get back on track by going back to basics and putting the ball in the hands of their best player, Frank Gore. Gore’s 153 yards rushing was the highlight of a balanced attack that hung 35 points on a reeling Ram’s team.

Even with their most recent offensive showing, the 49ers are still not clicking on all cylinders. Against the Rams, the team only converted 6-of-14 third downs lost two fumbles. For the season, San Francisco has only converted 37 percent of their third downs (21-of-57) and have a minus-4 turnover ratio. They have also given up 12 sacks in four games and are losing the time of possession battle overall.

Even more telling of the 49ers’ woes is that they have gone three-and-out in 43.1 percent of their series, which is the fourth highest in the league.  The fact that the offense has struggled sustaining drives could also be the reason why the defense has faltered at times, especially late in games. The defense has actually forced opponents to go three-and-out 39.6 percent of the time (fifth best in the league).

Both loses on the season appeared lopsided if you only look at the final score (29-3 to Seattle and 27-7 to Indianapolis) but the 49ers were actually very much in those games into the 4th quarter. Against the Seahawks, the game was 12-3 before the flood gates opened and they were within one score of the Colts, down 13-7. Turnovers late in the games also attributed to short fields for the defense.

It will be interesting to see if the 49ers stick with the run first game plan they showcased in Week 4 when they host the Houston Texans Sunday night. The team is still trying to find an offensive identity in 2013 and perhaps they have found it by going back to what made them so successful in the first place, the running game.

Photo Credit: Seth Perlman/AP

 

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