<
>

Niners' offensive line simply offensive in loss to Rams

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Sunday was not a good day for the San Francisco 49ers' offensive line.

It allowed quarterback Colin Kaepernick to be sacked a career-high eight times by St. Louis Rams' defense, which entered the game with a league-worst six sacks all season.

It cleared enough space for only 80 yards of rushing, on 3.8 yards per carry.

And it committed four of the team's nine penalties, with two more declined.

The 49ers' offensive line was so, well, offensive in a 13-10 loss to the Rams at Levi's Stadium that it was obvious the coaching staff had no confidence in it to pound the ball into the end zone with the game on the line and a timeout still in the pocket.

Trailing by just three points with 46 seconds to play and the 49ers facing a first-and-goal from the Rams' 5-yard line, three straight passes were called (one wiped out by a Rams penalty). Then, on third-and-goal from the 1, rather than hand the ball off to bell-cow back Frank Gore, a quarterback sneak was called.

Kaepernick fumbled. James Laurinaitis recovered in the end zone with 2 seconds to play. Ballgame.

"I know I crossed the [goal] line," Kaepernick said.

It did not matter. Not when the 49ers (4-4) should not have been in this situation to begin with against one of the league's dregs in the Rams, who entered the game with a 2-5 record.

True, the line was breaking in a new center, rookie Marcus Martin, who was making his NFL debut in the wake of Daniel Kilgore breaking his left ankle two weeks earlier in Denver. But the rest of the line was the same unit that dominated defensive fronts the past two years: left tackle Joe Staley, left guard Mike Iupati, right guard Alex Boone and right tackle Anthony Davis.

And yet the Rams had their way with the Niners.

"They blitzed a s--- ton," Staley said, not clarifying if such a, ahem, measurement was equal to 2,000 pounds.

"We have all the talent in the world. We've been doing some dumb stuff and they took advantage of [it]."

By "dumb stuff" you mean what, exactly?

"Penalties," Staley said. "Dumb blocks. Dumb techniques and dumb schemes."

Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

Hey, those are Staley's words, no one else's.

Besides, the Niners were, again, breaking in a new center. So that has to account for something, no?

"This is the NFL," Martin said. "Every week it's going to be something different. You've just got to learn from your mistakes, watch the film and correct the mistakes."

Such as what, specifically?

"I've got to look at the film," he said. "I don't know off the top of my head. But there were mistakes made and we didn't play good enough to win. So that's one thing we've got to improve upon."

Except, it was in more than just one aspect the Niners' offensive line that withered against the Rams. And when the quarterback is being sacked eight times, and 14 times total in the past two games, that has to make it nearly impossible for Kaepernick to accomplish anything when he's under such duress.

Per ESPN Stats & Information data, Kaepernick was sacked at least once on seven separate drives, with the 49ers failing to score on any of the possessions. Two of Kaepernick's sacks were on third down; one led to a missed field goal and another led to the end of a drive due to a Kaepernick fumble.

Not exactly a good look, for either the quarterback or his O-line. Still ...

Kaepernick, who threw for 237 yards on 22-of-33 passing with a TD toss and rushed for 14 yards on five carries, shouldered the blame. Sort of.

"That's why I'm here, to make plays regardless of the situation," he said. "I have to be better back there.

"I'm here to make plays. I can make people miss. So, that's part of my job."

Trying to do it from your back, though, is not part of the job description.