Columnist Mark Purdy's early analysis of the good and bad for the 49ers in their 27-7 loss to the Indianapolis Colts here Sunday. Check back later for his full column after locker room interviews.
MARKUP — Was there any real positive element to Sunday's game for the 49ers? Difficult to find one. Maybe it's that the coaching staff and players can't dwell on the ugly performance for very long because they have another game in St. Louis on Thursday night.
MARKDOWN — Anyone seen Colin Kaepernick? Or at least, has anyone seen the Colin Kaepernick who could drive a defense nuts with his ability to mix his legs with his arm in an unbeatable combination? His inability to be that guy--for the second week in a row--is the biggest concern coming out of Sunday's defeat. Until the 49ers' meaningless last possession, Kaepernick had completed just eight of 18 passes for 86 yards. And his feet didn't seem to be moving very fast, either, culminating in his lost fumble with four minutes remaining that set up the Colts' final touchdown. A groin injury to linebacker Patrick Willis, which ended his game prematurely, is also a worry.
MARKUP — About 45 minutes before kickoff, Hall of Fame 49er Jerry Rice was roaming the sidelines. He waved to some folks in the stands, then spontaneously sprinted the length of the football field while dressed in his sharp business suit, drawing cheers from the several thousand early-arriving fans. In doing so, he nearly outgained the 49er offense in the first half.
MARKDOWN -- It's always good to see No. 80 out there, even without his No. 80. But after his sprint, you have to wonder how sweaty that dress shirt was the rest of the day.
MARKUP — Aldon Smith, the DUI suspect, was obviously a focus of attention Sunday after his Friday arrest. There was a pregame report that 49er and NFL officials--plus, one assumes, his representation--have agreed that Smith needs to undergo some form of treatment for his substance-abuse issues. But first, he had a game to play. Was it a smart decision? Leaving out the morality arguments, all you could say is that on the field, Smith was not great and not terrible. He did make a very good play when, after being blocked at the line of scrimmage, he pivoted and chased down Colts receiver Reggie Wayne, who was 25 yards downfield after a reception.
MARKDOWN — Smith also had his down moments. On one third-quarter play, Smith was swallowed up by Colts offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo, which sprung running back Donald Brown for a 16-yard gain.
MARKDOWN — The 49ers were trailing at halftime, 10-7, but that had a lot to do with the back-to-back defensive penalties on the Colts' first two offensive plays of the game. Safety Donte Whitner was flagged for unnecessary roughness on a hit when he lowered his shoulder but struck Indy's Ahmad Bradshaw too high. Corner man Tarell Brown was then called for pass interference. The two penalties set up Indianapolis with a first down at the 39-yard line of the 49ers. Five plays later, the Colts scored to go ahead, 7-0. Brown committed another pass interference penalty in the fourth quarter that extended an Indianapolis drive.
MARKUP — Frank Gore as we know and admire him suddenly surfaced in the first quarter with three carries for 54 yards on a touchdown drive. But give credit to the 49er offensive line for a lot of that, blowing the Colts backward. Mike Iupati also made a classic pulling-guard crusher of a block on one of Gore's runs. Gore was seen limping later in the game, however, and was largely ineffective after that.
MARKDOWN — Why couldn't any 49er receivers get open? To a semi-knowledgeable eye, it appeared that the Colts were having good luck giving the wide receivers plenty of press coverage — and that with rare exceptions, Kaepernick was hesitant to try and squeeze the ball into tight spaces. Was he still a little skittery from throwing that goal line interception last week in Seattle? You'd hate to think so.
MARKUP — In some fashion, the 49ers probably deserve a slight bit of credit just for surviving one of the NFL's toughest early schedules. As has been noted, they had to face three consecutive teams that qualified for the 2012 playoffs, right off the bat. Only the Green Bay Packers had a similar task and they also went 1-2, after losing to the 49ers and Bengals while beating Washington.
MARKDOWN — Maybe there is a lot of emotion among the 49er fan base regarding the final season at Candlestick Park. But you wouldn't know it from the crowd energy Sunday. Things finally did get noisy in the fourth quarter. But the stark contrast between Sunday and a week earlier in Seattle was . . . well, stark.
MARKUP — Including potential playoff games, there are still a maximum of eight games left for the 49ers at Candlestick Park. So much tradition.
MARKDOWN — Including potential playoff games, there are still a maximum of eight games left for the 49ers at Candlestick Park. Still a dump.