Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The 49ers are an effective running team even when their per-carry average lags. That was one lasting impression after watching their offense control the ball for nearly 40 minutes during a 24-14 victory over the Jets in Week 14.
The 49ers' first possession began with center Eric Heitmann putting Jets nose tackle Kris Jenkins on his back. I can't recall seeing that happen in the three or four Jets games I've watched this season. Frank Gore gained only 2 yards on the play, but the 49ers proved early that they would match the Jets in terms of being physical.
I'll list a few observations after making available for download this expanded look at the 49ers' production across personnel groups, situations and formations:
The 49ers' ability to recover their own fumbles allowed them to stick with a game plan that featured more plays with three tight ends (seven) than with four wide receivers (five). Injuries at receiver might have played a role in some of that, but we're also seeing a less flamboyant approach since Mike Singletary became head coach.
The 49ers might be trusting Vernon Davis more as a route-runner. Shaun Hill threw the ball before Davis came out of his break on a 20-yard pass play in the second quarter. I thought this play represented a step forward for Davis.
The 49ers ran the ball eight times in their first 12 plays on first down. They ran the ball 17 times on 30 first-down plays overall (I did not analyze kneel-down plays late in the game). For the season, the 49ers have passed 54 percent of the time on first down.
The 49ers had 10 plays of at least 13 yards. All were passes. All but one were on second or third down, a departure from early-season form.
Tight end Sean Ryan is getting extensive playing time as a fullback. I still count him as a tight end for personnel-charting purposes, and the 49ers did throw to him.
The holding call against left tackle Joe Staley (negating a touchdown pass to Delanie Walker) seemed unfortunate for Staley. Defensive end Kenyon Coleman grabbed Staley by the collar and yanked him off-balance before Staley tried to recover by grabbing Coleman.
Receiver Dominique Zeigler is improving with experience. He looked quick, particularly on a 31-yard catch-and run.
Missing on Jonas Jennings in free agency is really hurting the 49ers. Adam Snyder gives great effort, but he's a converted guard. Adding a front-line right tackle would help this offense a great deal.
Heitmann decked Jenkins in the third quarter after Jenkins tried a club move. A well-timed assist from left guard David Baas helped Heitmann finish Jenkins.
Receiver Isaac Bruce appears rejuvenated. Getting improved play from the quarterback position always helps.
Hill definitely fits the "gamer" label. The pass he threw to Walker for the negated 38-yard touchdown was delivered perfectly.
I've also had a chance to look at the Cardinals' offense against the Rams. More on that as the afternoon progresses.