After allowing six sacks to the Dallas Cowboys and five sacks to the Cincinnati Bengals, the San Francisco 49ers were certainly looking for something positive from their offensive line. They had problems throughout the whole lineup, and even had issues with the running backs and their pass protection. The worst of the bunch has been Chilo Rachal, who, along with his propensity for getting penalized, has given up his fair share of pressure.
So when Adam Snyder got the start at right guard, the spotlight was on him to show that he was better than Rachal, but if 49ers fans noticed Snyder at all, I'd be surprised, considering all three of the sacks they gave up against the Eagles came from one man: second-year right tackle Anthony Davis. He's raw, everybody knew that coming into this year ... he's bound to be at just 21-years old, but Jason Babin beat him three times for sacks in the 49ers 24-23 comeback win. Had they lost that game, you can bet that Davis would be receiving a lot more flack right now.
Below, I take a look at each of the three sacks and what exactly happened on the play.
1st Sack: 15:00 2nd Quarter, 3rd and 8
Alex Smith lines up in the shotgun with Michael Crabtree and Josh Morgan to the left side of the line, Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker to the right side of the line and Frank Gore on his left. Adam Snyder was in at right guard (Chilo did get into the game, but Snyder was the guard on all three sacks given up). Good snap from Goodwin, and the Eagles rush four. Gore goes into the left flat while Walker and Davis run their routes on the right. Joe Staley and Mike Iupati occupy their blocks, while Snyder doubles up with Goodwin. Davis pulls Jason Babin back well in a circle, but can't stay with him and Babin grabs Smith from behind and it's a three-yard loss.
At first glance it looks like Staley completing his block and throwing his man down may have got in Davis' way, but upon re-watching, it's clear that Davis had lost Babin by that point. Smith, though, held onto the ball for too long on the play, and most would call that decent protection to get a pass off.
2nd Sack: 1:46 2nd Quarter, 1st and 10
Smith in the shotgun again, with four wide and Gore to his left. The Eagles rush four again, with men directly in front of Snyder and Anthony Davis. Snyder occupies his man and Davis moves over to help him without even registering that Babin was there. Gore goes for the left flat at the snap and Babin moves untouched to Smith, who fumbles the ball before contact is made. It looks like a missed assignment for Davis, but it's possible he thought Gore was supposed to stay in to chip, hence letting Babin through untouched.
3rd Sack: 12:26 4th Quarter, 3rd and 10
It's the shotgun once again, with three wide, Gore on his right and Walker on his left. Philadelphia rushes five (the fifth rusher being a delayed rush from a linebacker) and it's bad from the very beginning. Gore looks to occupy a phantom sixth rusher, Walker hesitates, but isn't necessarily out of place. Staley and Iupati finish their blocks just fine, Snyder was supposed to double up with Goodwin, but the rusher was in Goodwin's face and Snyder has to turn around to try and block, and poor Anthony Davis is all alone again on the right side.
Goodwin was likely going to lose his block and give up a sack, but Davis is burned so badly by Babin on this play that there wasn't a chance for that happening. Babin was untouched for a couple yards before Davis finally got himself turned to try and stop him, but he's beaten by the speed rush and Smith goes down for an eight-yard loss.
So while the whole line did look a little bit better in pass protection and certainly better in run blocking, one can only hope that it was just a matter of Babin having Davis' number on Sunday. It's unlikely that's the case though, because Davis has struggled with speed rushers since coming to the NFL. Snyder missed some assignments but his actual blocking looked good, with more time as a starter, he'll likely get back into a more consistent form.
But hey - three sacks is better than five - which is better than six. Progress?