For an offense that contributed to or was a part of 30 of the 32 points that the San Francisco 49ers scored in their Week 6 win over the Arizona Cardinals, sometimes it may be a bit tough as a fan to find much fault or be critical about how the unit performed in such a game. In the case of the 49ers offense and their performance on Sunday, one thing that stood out as being a negative was their execution in the red zone.
The 49ers made it into the red zone four times during the game and the result of those four trips was one touchdown, two field goals, and one turnover that was the result of a Colin Kaepernick pass being tipped and then intercepted near the goal line. While the 49ers did not end up losing the game, the fact is that it looked like a real possibility for a while.
A large part of the blame would have rested on the fact that the 49ers failed to score touchdowns when in the red zone, especially when the first two trips started inside of the red zone courtesy of the defense returning interceptions. Clearly this is something that needs to be corrected as later on in the season when games increase in importance, leaving points off the board by not scoring touchdowns and having to settle for field goals can come back to haunt you as a team and be the difference between winning and losing.
There are several remedies for the 49ers to be able to improve its efficiency inside the red zone. The first remedy to the troubles is that the 49ers need to get back several key injured offensive players. The fact of the matter is that the 49ers only have two pass catching threats in Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin. As a result, teams are able to do more to take away both guys with a shorter field. With the returns of Mario Manningham in the next two weeks to a month and the return of Michael Crabtree later in the season, this should help improve the red zone efficiency from the 49ers.
The second remedy to the 49ers’ red zone inefficiency is having Kaepernick run the ball more. By bringing in this threat with either Kaepernick running the ball as a result of a pass play breaking down or through some designed run like a bootleg, the threat of the run should also help open up space for him to be able to pass the ball inside the red zone. The final remedy to the 49ers’ red zone woes is the fact that they can simply begin to execute better, something which seems easy but in the end, is an effective solution to ensuring the 49ers are more efficient inside the red zone.