CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 25: Quarterback Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers is sacked for a loss in the second quarter by Jonathan Fanene #68 of the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on September 25, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
The Bengals offense finally looked like they are led by a rookie quarterback on Sunday when the team lost to the 49ers by a score of 13-8. Quarterback Andy Dalton completed 17 of 32 passes for 157 yards and two interceptions as the offense failed to make their way into the end zone in the game. The 49ers defense also held the Bengals running game at bay, only giving up 79 yards on the ground.
It wasn't like the offense lacked opportunities either. The defense, in general, played a pretty good game. They held Frank Gore to 42 yards on 17 carries and didn't allow Alex Smith to throw any touchdowns. Perhaps the best aspect of the defense on Sunday was the pass rush. The defense sacked Smith five times seriously affecting the 49ers' ability to drive the ball down the field. Unfortunately the Bengals offense couldn't capitalize on their opportunities.
Here's how the defensive pressure on Alex Smith affected the Niners' offense.
The first sack came on the 49ers first drive of the game. After Smith completed his first pass to fullback Bruce Miller for an 11 yard game, he was sacked on the very next play. It was first-and-10 from the 49ers 30-yard line when Smith dropped back to pass. He was taken down for a five-yard loss by safety Chris Crocker and defensive end Jonathan Fanene. It was then second-and-15 and the Niners for were forced to pass to try to maintain the drive, eliminating Frank Gore from the drive. Smith threw two incompletions and the 49ers were forced to punt.
The second sack came on the 49ers' fourth drive of the game. The 49ers got the ball on their own 13-yard line and eventually got a first down after a run by Gore and a short pass to Michael Crabtree. Then after another short run by Gore, an incomplete pass and a penalty, the Niners were in a third-and-14 situation on their own 21-yard line. On that play Smith dropped back to pass and was sacked by Fanene again, putting the 49ers in a fourth-and-22 situation. The 49ers punted and gave the Bengals good field position.
The third and fourth sacks came on the Niners' seventh drive of the game and was the only drive in which Smith was sacked and the 49ers still scored points. After two passes, Smith and the 49ers offense were in position to score a touchdown. They had the ball first-and-goal at the Bengals six-yard line. However, on the very next play Smith dropped back to pass and was sacked by Frostee Rucker for a four-yard loss, setting up second-and-goal from the 10-yard line. Smith threw a touchdown pass to Crabtree on the next play but the play was called back because of an illegal touching penalty on Crabtree. This put the Niners in a second-and-15 position but an unnecessary roughness penalty on Rey Maualuga gave the 49ers a first down on the 10-yard line. On first-and-goal, Kendall Hunter carried the ball for four yards and then Smith passed to Miller for one yard on second down. On third-and-goal, Smith dropped back to pass and was hit and brought down by defensive lineman Geno Atkins at the line of scrimmage.The Niners went on to score three points on a field goal to cap off the drive but without Rucker's and Atkins' sacks, it's likely they score a touchdown.
The fifth and last sack came on the 49ers' eighth drive of the game. After a Gore run for no gain the Niners were on their own 20-yard line at second-and-10. Smith dropped back to pass and was sacked by Chris Crocker and Dan Skuta for a loss of eight yards. Smith completed a short pass to Vernon Davis but then had to punt on fourth down from their own nine-yard line. Once again the Bengals had good field position.
So the Bengals sacked Smith five times on four different drives and on those drives, the Niners score three points. On the other three drives, the Bengals were given the ball back but couldn't do anything with it and eventually punted it back to the 49ers. If the defense is going to show up and put pressure on the quarterback and sack him five times in a game, the offense needs to learn how to score when they're given the opportunity to make the defense's work count for something. Until they start doing that, they'll continue to lose games.