This is a 49ers team with a run first identity. While Alex Smith has improved leaps and bounds from previous seasons, this team is as strong as its running game.
And from what we saw against the Vikings, the lack of a running game proved too much for the Niners.
Some will point to the three turnovers, which is far from the discipline football the Niners usually play.
Alex Smith, who hadn’t thrown an interception since last Thanksgiving, made one of the more crucial errors towards the end of the game, but the tape points to other issues.
The game plan, from what we saw early on, pointed to the Niners slinging it around against a suspect Vikings secondary. It seems the game plan got out of hand.
The Niners became too pass heavy, to the point where they lacked balance. What fans and analysts loved about this team was their dedication to balance on offense. This wasn’t the case on Sunday.
At one point, it was eight minutes into the second quarter, and Frank Gore only carried the ball four times.
This type of disparity is exactly what the Niners don’t want to do. It isn’t efficient football and more so, it puts far too much pressure on Smith.
Gore was solid, finishing the game with 61-yards, but only on 12 attempts. Hunter received 4 attempts, and the rest of the yards came from Alex Smith’s scrambles. This is a combined 21 rushing attempts.
Both games resulted in victories, but more importantly, the 49ers were able to strike balance in those matchups.
The 49ers face a similar West Coast based scheme in the New York Jets offense in Week 4, and if recent history is taken into consideration, Jim Harbaugh should have his Niners back to normal after an uncharacteristically bad game.