Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. The San Francisco 49ers somehow are 2-0 and know all about being lucky. The defense has been very impressive but their offense is quite offensive to say the least. Who is at fault for the anemic offense? Although fans place the blame squarely on Alex Smith's shoulders, he is not as big of a problem as the shoddy and very conservative play-calling by offensive coordinator,Jim Hostler. Niner fans are already wishing Norv Turner never left as the offensive coordinator to become the head coach of the Chargers.
How bad is the 49ers offense? They had only eight first downs last week compared to 20 by the Rams. Alex Smith has thrown zero touchdowns in two games. Vernon Davis only has four catches in two games when he should be the primary receiver on each passing play. Davis should be what Tony Gonzalez is for the Chiefs but he appears to be nothing but a decoy so far. Hostler has to do a better job of calling plays to get Davis open. Smith had a sheepish grin on his face after the game while telling reporters that he knows the offense has to get better. Mike Nolan and Hostler are doing Smith no favors by not letting Smith pass the ball in crucial downs. Instead of playing to win and showing faith in their young quarterback, they are basically telling Smith that they do not trust him in key situations. Steve Young was on a local tv show and said that Smith needs to demand more responsibility from his coach and that you should be able to tell if a quarterback will be any good by the end of his third year.
As the 49ers head to Pittsburgh later this week, they should not expect to score many points against one of the best defenses in the league. The Steelers have only allowed 10 points in two games. Smith will probably be under pressure the whole game and won't have time to throw any intermediate or deep routes. Pittsburgh did not give up more than 100 yards to any running back last year so Frank Gore will have trouble getting his yards.
The 49ers defense will have to key on #39, Willie Parker, who is one of the fastest backs in the NFL. Parker can easily turn a five-yard run into a 50-yard touchdown once he finds a small opening. Expect more than 25 carries from Parker on Sunday. Besides Parker, the other weapons on the team are veteran WR Hines Ward and speedy WR Santonio Holmes. Ward is one of their best blockers on running plays and loves to lay big hits on defensive backs. I am still not sold on their new head coach, Mike Tomlin, and am waiting to see how he handles the team during difficult times and games. The Steelers should win this game by 10 points, but the 49ers have nothing to lose on Sunday and should open up their playbook so we can see what they really have in Smith. Nolan has been able to laugh at all the criticism of the team's offense in the first two games by saying the bottom line is that they won both games. He won't be laughing anymore though if the 49ers start losing games due to the conservative play-calling by Hostler.