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Colin Cole Allows a Hole Emmitt Smith Would Envy

This hole? Zombie-Curtis Enis could run through it.

How does a running back rush for 80 yards on the first play of the half? How does a team fail to adjust when that same running back broke a 75 yard run in the first half? Seattle didn't really adjust. It was again eight in the box. Kelly Jennings was manning the right end, making Seattle borderline nine in the box. The starters, minus Lofa Tatupu and Josh Wilson, were in. That means Craig Terrill, but Terrill did his job. He was first off the snap and he drove back right guard Chilo Rachal. Everyone else, oh boy...

Colin Cole bears the most blame, but he wasn't embarrassed the way Patrick Kerney was. Poor, poor Patrick Kerney. It's early but, Kerney might have stepped over that cliff this season. Plays in which he's looked flat bad are beginning to outnumber plays he's looked good.

Let's take this step by pitiful step.

1. San Francisco is set two wide receivers left, tight end right and offset "I" right. Seattle is 4-3 under, so that Aaron Curry is shaded just to the right of slot receiver Josh Morgan.

2. Morgan motions in to the right tackle, but then reverses and aligns at left tight end. This is where things start to crumble for Seattle. The Seahawks shift left to the motion and then attempt to reset on the right. They can't get back into position before the snap.

3. At the snap, Curry and Will Herring read run and rush the line to control their gaps. Every 49er but Josh Hill stays in to block. Ken Lucas stays with Hill.

4. Left guard David Baas engages and blocks out Cole. This is essential, because it is Cole's gap that San Francisco will target. Baas is able to single block Cole allowing center Eric Heitmann to pull into the second level. Heitmann briefly reach blocks Cole, but it doesn't slow his pull. Cole is effectively blocked out by one offensive lineman.

5. Cole is moved hard to the offensive right and Gore's cutback lane stretches from Terrill, right of center, to Curry struggling with (and being held by) Morgan outside of the left tackle. The hole is as large as three to four football players aligned shoulder pad to shoulder pad.

6. Herring is lost in the pile. For good measure and without a better assignment, Heitmann piles on, tracking him into the scrum and shoving to the ground. Staley pulls out and blocks David Hawthorne.

7. Kerney is unblocked. He is standing in the hole before Gore can receive the hand off. It's a tough hole to defend and Kerney has not support, but he most slow or redirect Gore if he can't get a hand on him.

8. He doesn't.


9. Gore is untouched into the third level. Jordan Babineaux takes a bad angle towards Gore, but, again, what can he do?

10. What he does is attempt to flush Gore towards Lucas, the only other defender with a chance to stop Gore.

11. Gore expertly threads between Babineaux and Lucas. He angles towards the sideline to position Lucas and then cuts in. That puts Hill between him and Lucas and clears the lane to the end zone.

Kerney is awful on this play, but the huge hole, the literally superfluous lead blockers and the speed and force Gore is able to take into the third level starts with Cole's inability to hold the center. Even Kerney's failure is partially attributed to the gigantic hole he had to fill. And that hole is Colin Cole's responsibility to prevent from forming. He is the nose tackle, the true nose, playing over center -- the zero gap, and it is his responsibility to contain the push, hold the point and prevent the offensive line from being ripped through like tissue paper.