"Don't sweat the small stuff," is a phrase which exudes a certain understanding of life and its tendency to just ... go wrong sometimes. If something small and insignificant happens, just keep an eye on the big picture. It is, quite honestly, a good moniker to live by in most circumstances. It is not, however, a good moniker to play winning football by. Jim Harbaugh is a very detail-oriented coach and he certainly knows the dangers of not sweating the small stuff when it comes to football.
Which is why he'll be a very upset man when it comes time to study the game film of the San Francisco 49ers' 21-19 loss at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals.
There were quite a few plays on Sunday that just don't sit well with this writer and shouldn't sit well with Harbaugh. No, they're not the reason that things crumpled and the 49ers dropped the game, but there are so many moving parts that make any given play work, it's easy to think that they were a factor. Some plays in particular to draw attention to ...
During the third quarter, Alex Smith threw a screen pass to Delanie Walker that went for a loss of six yards. The Cardinals defense immediately swarmed that side of the field, and it was clear it wasn't going to go anywhere. There's a decent chance that the Cardinals were just fast on the play, and it's not likely that it would have gained big yardage regardless, but there was one tip-off that could have affected things, something small.
Wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. was on the other side of the field, the lone receiver lining up on that side of the field, and he did absolutely nothing. When he lined up, it was clear he wasn't about to run any kind of route, and after the play started, he didn't do a thing. He didn't run a fake route and he didn't make an effort to block, he simply turned his head and watched what happened.
Another thing that isn't necessarily small, but it's in the details of execution, something that needs to be drilled. Safety Dashon Goldson gave up a big play to Larry Fitzgerald - something that routinely happens to any and all players up against FItzgerald on any given day - but unlike most of the poor defensive backs that Fitzgerald abuses on a regular basis, Goldson was in great position to stop the play.
Instead, Goldson got it in his head that he was going to pick off the ball, instead of doing the smart thing and just defending the pass. He's been great this season in picking off the ball, but it wasn't the first time that he screwed up and gave up a big play by being too aggressive going for the interception. That's something that honestly needs to change. Goldson needs to remember that he can't intercept every ball, and in that situation, a defensed pass was the best-case scenario.
There were other things, but those two stood out. There are a lot of things that stand out, like slow play from Braylon Edwards or lacking performance from Vernon Davis. But those two plays show that there are a lot of things that Harbaugh and his coaching staff need to point out when they go and take a look at the film.