After starting off the season 3-1, the Niners have hit the wall, and have lost 3 consecutive ballgames, including 2 straight losses after their week 6 bye. And although it's still relatively early in the season, the 49ers really need to win Sunday's game if they're going to get serious about challenging the Cardinals in the NFC West.
The main reason for the Niners downfall in recent weeks has to do with the do with inconsistency on offense, even their defense, which looked so good in the first couple of weeks, hasn't been playing like they can be either. Take away that second half in Houston in which Alex Smith threw for 3 TD passes in relief of Shaun Hill, and the Niners have just 24 points over their last 3 games. Frank Gore, who missed basically 3 full games with a bum ankle, hasn't looked like himself since he returned. He had one big 64 yard touchdown run early in the game last Sunday vs. the Colts, but was held in check after that, to the tune of 27 yards on 12 carries. The week prior, in Houston, Gore rushed for just 31 yards on 13 carries. Not exactly the output your looking for from your lead offensive threat. I don't pin this all on Gore though. The 49ers offensive line has been borderline atrocious in recent weeks, and it's tough to imagine any back having success running behind them lately.
In the midst of the three losses though, there has been some positives though come out of the Niners offense. Even though they haven't gotten on the same page yet with Alex Smith under the helm, there been some signs of potential from this Niners passing game. In Gores' absence from the spotlight, Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree have emerged to give the Niners a few viable receiving threats for the first time in years. Fans were worried about Crabtree taking some time to acclimate himself into the Niners game plan and playbook, but he's hit the ground running, and has led the team in receptions over the last 2 weeks. And of course, there's Alex Smith, who's taken back the reigns of the Niners offense, and although he's officially 0-1 as a starter, his 404 yards passing a 4 TD tosses in 6 quarters of play has been very impressive. I think this could be the week Smith really breaks out and solidifies his role as the teams starting QB vs. porous Titans pass defense, but only if the offensive line allows it.