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49ers Long Drive to Nowhere, Part 1

I still love Aaron Curry because I still believe that Curry will eventually earn that love.
I still love Aaron Curry because I still believe that Curry will eventually earn that love.

Luck is overused in the world of sports analysis. What is sometimes called "luck" is better phrased as "difficult to qualify." Fumble recoveries are not luck, not entirely. Clearly there is a skill to being aware of a fumble, and there's basic athletic skill to securing a loose football. There's no telling which way a fumble will fall, and in that sense, the outcome and subsequent recovery of a fumble is unpredictable, and the skills that make one player more likely to recover one fumble and less likely to recover another, hard to qualify (much less quantify) but that doesn't mean it's luck.

This is luck: Jon Ryan boots. Ted Ginn is back to receive. He waves for the fair catch and then moves towards the sideline, allowing the ball to bounce. Sometime before the ball does, a Seahawk sets up ready to down a fortuitous bounce. Ginn has screwed up. He needs to catch the ball and guard against his team being pinned within the five. Instead, and no one, no one can possibly predict this, the ball lands so that it bounces backwards and away from the goal.

Ginn lucks out.

...

If Lofa Tatupu stays healthy, I see no reason this can not be a top five run defense. This drive is a good example of why Seattle has the horses to make this defense so stifling against the run.

1-10-SF 10 (8:11) 21-F.Gore right tackle to SF 13 for 3 yards (90-C.Cole, 57-D.Hawthorne).

This is a Colin Cole highlight. I repeat, this is a Colin Cole highlight.

San Francisco stretches right and that matches Cole one on one against Mike Iupati. Cole squares and when Frank Gore threatens to dash out right, Cole disengages and tackles.

Having a big guy that can hold against a powerful guard is step towards a dominant run defense. At the same time, what if Cole misses? He didn't assuredly wrap Gore. He tangled and dropped him.

If he misses Gore, David Hawthorne is around to wrap. Opposite the offensive left, Red Bryant withstands a double team and drops a pulling Joe Staley. That frees Hawthorne to shadow the action and be there to stop Gore before he can hit the second level.

One thing this defense should have no trouble with is consuming blockers.

2-7-SF 13 (7:28) 11-A.Smith pass short right to 85-V.Davis to SF 21 for 8 yards (36-L.Milloy).

Aaron Curry is so, so very close to perfectly timing the snap, but in his haste, he catches himself from committing a penalty and ruins his first step. One day.

Seahawks blitz five. No one comes free. After the play, Tatupu can be seen coaching up Bryant, for whatever that's worth.

Marcus Trufant covers Vernon Davis on the left but busts attempting a tackle. Lawyer Milloy screams from the underworld and wraps and ends it.

1-10-SF 21 (6:47) 11-A.Smith pass short left to 84-J.Morgan to SF 29 for 8 yards (29-E.Thomas).

Corner blitz by Trufant. Promising, but Alex Smith moves his read from right to left and identifies the weakness. Earl Thomas closes and stops Morgan before he can run after the catch*.

2-2-SF 29 (6:08) 21-F.Gore right tackle to SF 30 for 1 yard (59-A.Curry).

Curry gets the tackle; Tatupu defeats the play.

Bryant and Brandon Mebane combine to form a pile of blockers. Tatupu shoots the "C" gap and strikes Iupati pulling from left to around right end, or, rather, right end is the destination. Tatupu stirkes Iupati somewhere behind the right tackle. It's awesome. Against a lesser rusher, this play is dead. Gore must navigate a slot that vees up between the stopped Iupati and the right tackle, but he does, jump-cutting through the two and threatening to burst into the second level.

Curry misreads the direction of the run and is caught seesawing over center looking for a way into the play. He eventually shoots the gap produced by a fallen Mebane and wraps Gore from behind. If Curry had instead, I don't know, made shadow puppets along the left sideline, Bryant was still there to shade out and tackle Gore.