The offense lacked rhythm. Alex Smith's quick pass to Ted Ginn Jr. on a slant pattern was one exception. Overall, though, it seems as though Smith could not find or did not have available to him quick outlets against pressure. He wound up risking sacks or running from the pocket without purpose. The Raiders' press coverage might have presented challenges on timing routes, but the 49ers' offense has looked this way in other games, too.
Smith came very close to connecting with Josh Morgan on a deep ball to open the 49ers' first possession. Cornerback Stanford Routt might have slowed Morgan as the ball was arriving, but it was tough to say for sure. That play and a reverse to Ginn showed some aggressiveness.
What is Smith's strength? What is the one thing he does really well? The Rams' Sam Bradford throws with exceptional accuracy when running on designed rollouts. The Seattle Seahawks' Matt Hasselbeck can push the offensive tempo quickly enough to keep a defense off-balance. For Smith, sometimes it's throwing the intermediate seam route to Vernon Davis. Watching this game against the Raiders, nothing stood out. Some of that might stem from the design of the offense. Again, there isn't much rhythm to the passing game.
Brian Westbrook gained 19 yards the only time he touched the ball. I wouldn't want to remove Frank Gore from the field, either, but if Westbrook has that much spring in his step, a few more touches would make sense.
Rookie left guard Mike Iupati stands straight up sometimes and it costs him leverage. It really is all about technique for him, as teammates and coaches have indicated previously.
Rookie right tackle Anthony Davis ran across the formation and smashed into the Raiders' Trevor Scott, crumpling the 255-pound defensive end. Gore gained 15 yards on the first-quarter running play. Rookie tight end Nate Byham also made a key block, occupying defensive end Lamarr Houston.
Rookie strong safety Taylor Mays appears close to making big plays. He did force a fumble with a big hit in the red zone. He nearly picked off a couple passes. The Raiders appeared to fool him on a reverse, but coach Mike Singletary said Mays wasn't the problem on that play. Singletary credited Mays for hustling to make the tackle. Speaking of hustle, I noticed receiver Michael Crabtree hustling downfield to block during Frank Gore's 64-yard run. Good play by Crabtree.
Defensive end Justin Smith isn't catching my attention the way he has in the past. I focused on him in this game. Smith disrupted a running play after getting a few plays off (Demetric Evans rotates with him). Raiders rookie left tackle Jared Veldheer shoved Smith out of the way on a subsequent play.
Inside linebacker Patrick Willis delivered the most forceful hit of the game, I thought. Raiders tackle Mario Henderson appeared unprepared for what awaited when he stepped into Willis' turf in the middle of the field. Henderson was carrying himself too upright as he led running back Michael Bush. Willis approached Henderson, crouched ever so slightly and launched his upper body into Henderson's chest just below the shoulder pads. The result? Willis basically tackled Bush with Henderson. Scary.
Overall, the 49ers defense played one of its better games. The offense was hit-and-miss.
Update: seanpatrickriley points out in the comments that Smith has been effective in the red zone. That is true. The 49ers scored only one touchdown in three red zone trips against Oakland, though. And quite a few quarterbacks have very good stats in the red zone -- Jason Campbell has a 99.4 rating in the red zone this season, for example -- but Smith has been especially effective there. He has seven touchdown passes and no interceptions in the red zone this season.