Article Title: Making Eddie Proud.
It was unmistakable as former San Francisco 49er owner Eddie DeBartolo walked alongside his family members inside Candlestick Park with the multitudes of cheering die-hard fans shouting “Eddie, Eddie!” The ceremony to honor him as the 49ers inaugural inductee into the San Francisco’s Hall of Fame was everything it was imagined to be. Former legendary San Francisco 49er All-Pro icon Jerry Rice spoke of Eddie on a stage set-up at midfield as a plaque was unveiled honoring Eddie as the 49er’s first inductee into the Eddie DeBartolo Sr. Hall of Fame. Everyone that was of meaning to Eddie was there at the ceremony including Hall of Famers Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott, Dwight Clark, Roger Craig, Eric Davis and Steve Young. Young presented a video tribute that was played on the stadium’s scoreboard.
The only person that was not there that should have been, could not be and that being his former head coach in the legendary Bill Walsh. Eddie embraced the crowd as his own calling them his family. His emotions running high, you could tell he wanted to be back somehow in the limelight of it all once again. His tenure as the owner of this great dynasty and five Super Bowls is unprecedented in the NFL and he carries a confidence that is always infectious.
Eddie later remarked to reporters that he would do everything in his power to assist his nephew in Jed York the new San Francisco 49ers President secure a deal to land a new stadium for the team. The 62-year-old DeBartolo would treasure nothing more satisfying then to envision and walk-into a new state of the art facility that embraces all the ideological concepts that the San Francisco 49ers were created for. This would be a dream he shares with his family that he now pursues as a legitimate happening.
All of this happening at halftime with the 49ers leading Jim Mora Junior’s Seattle Seahawks, our former defensive coordinator 13-10. Mora’s star quarterback in Matt Hasselback had driven his Seahawks from their 30-yard line to the 49ers four-yard line and attempted to run it in but was met by 49er linebacker Patrick Willis with a devastating hit that severely bruised his ribs and forced him out of the game. Seattle Seahawk back-up quarterback Seneca Wallace entered the game and found Julius Jones for the 1-yard touchdown to end the half 13-10 49ers.
Of course the most anticipated improvement everyone wanted to see was the execution of the San Francisco 49er offensive line. Mike Singletary after last week’s victory on the road in Arizona made several references that the line got their tails whipped in a tone that set the precedent for a new concentrated effort to spring Frank Gore on this given Sunday. Well someone was listening to what he said and it was delivered with Frank Gore scoring on touchdown runs of 79 and 80 yards in our 23-10 victory this past Sunday over the Seattle Seahawks in our very own Candlestick Park.
What is even more intriguing is on both these touchdown runs, Frank made the Seattle Seahawks defense pay while they were in eight-man fronts designed to stop him in the first place. Seattle Seahawk head coach Jim Mora Jr. acknowledged Frank Gore’s achievement while indicating that his defense was caught sleeping, knowing Frank Gore’s abilities personally as a former 49er defensive coordinator.
Just previously back in Arizona the San Francisco 49ers had only gained 21 yards rushing on 25 attempts, but still managed to come away with an impressive victory. This was the fewest yards rushing in a victory in franchise history. All week Mike Singletary and offensive line coach Chris Foerester challenged the line to deliver Frank Gore the season of his career, making reference to each lineman that should they execute; Frank would deliver the blow everyone has been waiting for.
The offensive line looked and executed a lot better from a week ago. They rolled up 379 total net yards of offense with 256 yards coming just on the ground. They also turned in a 33% efficiency rating on third downs and helped Frank obtain 12.9 yards per carry on 16 carries for 207 total yards. It did not however offer enough passing protection for quarterback Shaun Hill who took four sacks for a loss of 21 total yards and a fumble while being sacked that fortunately left tackle Joe Staley was able to land on.
Although Frank Gore is the offensive mainstay of the team, Shaun Hill must receive better protection to execute drives through the air in order to improve our third down efficiency rating and legitimize him as a threat outside the running game that defensive opponents take seriously. Hill completed 19-of-26 passes for 144 total yards and an 86.1% quarterback rating.
Changes took place on the offensive line that must be noted, in right tackle Adam Snyder being replaced with the seven-year veteran pro in Tony Pashos. However be advised that when Frank ran on both his touchdown excursions it was Adam Snyder that was on the field improving from last week. David Baas in at left guard and struggling back to form from an injury looked incredible with his run blocking and ability to help pull the line.
Fullback Moran Norris had a productive day in helping Frank Gore bust loose with precision lead blocking and catching the ball from Shaun Hill as an option three times for 17 total yards. Even the wide receivers played pivotal roles in securing running lanes for Frank as it was vividly displayed on the big screens following replays. Frank earlier in the season dedicated his off-season to resurrecting his career high 2006 season. After the first game in Arizona he became so concerned that it wasn’t to be, by calling his new offensive coordinator in Jimmy Raye.
Frank needed a nurturing conversation with his new coach to be convinced that it was still early in the season and that with the proper adjustments he would be as productive as he was in 2006. At the same time Jimmy pointed out to Frank that not every game would go the way he envisions it to be. You just have to take the hand that is dealt you sometimes and do the best you can with it. In regards to this instance his entire offensive line dialed up a profitable performance for which he is truly grateful to all of them.
Other great performances on the field were veteran All-Pro wide receiver Isaac Bruce who happened to be in the right place at the right time to keep drives alive with four receptions out of eight for 35 total yards. Towards the end of the third quarter ball hawking 49er safety Dashon Goldson nullified a Seattle Seahawk offensive drive at the 49er 12-yard line by making an interception that eventually led to a Joe Nedney field goal to make it 23-10 49ers. The San Francisco 49ers won time of possession with 34:31 to the Seahawks 25:29.
Penalties played big factors on each side of the ball with the 49ers having six for a loss of 54 total yards. The two that stood out the most were in the second half with 49er cornerback Nate Clements suffering a defensive pass interference call on a drive that fortunately ended with a Goldson interception. And the second was an offensive holding penalty on 49er center Eric Heitmann that did little damage on that drive with it resulting in a field goal.
The warmness of this opener at Candlestick was the Eddie DeBartolo induction and a crushing victory over a division nemesis that has been at the top of the division four out of the last five seasons. Now finally it is time for us to lay claim to the top of the division and to never look back on what has been but what is presently right in front of us. A gracious opportunity is now at hand for us, Mike Singletary has helped with instilling a winning philosophy inside each and every athlete currently on this roster.
There are indications we are definitely molding into a real fighting force that deserves immediate attention from all teams within the league. Mike made reference to Arizona being an “ugly win,” and this week as an “ugly win,” but he loves it. With each win, there have been glaring opportunities revealed that we have had to take back to the film room and the practice field to try and correct. This game against Seattle was no different in the fact that we must pass protect Shaun Hill and connect on the passing opportunities we have at hand. I can tell you one positive though as the game came to a close; Eddie could be seen smiling like his old self all over again.
Sources of Information: Mercury News.com, SF Gate.com, Inside Bay Area.com, NFL.com and my own personal analysis and opinion.