The 49ers have the worst red zone offense in football


The 49ers have won 10 games this year despite a glaring problem that Jim Harbaugh hasn’t been able to solve. They are a miserable red zone offense.

After Sunday’s loss in Arizona, the 49ers officially have the worst red zone offense in the league. No team has scored touchdowns a lower percentage of times inside the 20-yard line.

San Francisco lost to an inferior team Sunday because they couldn’t capitalize near the goal line. They got inside the Cardinals’ six-yard line three times in the first half, and came away with three field goals.

They don’t have a red zone touchdown this month. They are 3-for-13 scoring touchdowns in the red zone since the start of November.

The offensive meltdown in Arizona didn’t only occur near the goal line. San Francisco had two first downs in the entire second half. Alex Smith averaged 4.9 yards-per-attempt.

Perhaps this was just an overdue slip-up from the 49ers. A post-division title letdown without Patrick Willis. We tend to think the offense is regressing a little after two losses in three weeks.

If they lose again next Monday night against the Steelers, San Francisco may just lose that playoff bye.

93 responses to “The 49ers have the worst red zone offense in football

  1. Hahaha this monday night game will be like taking candy from a baby! Get ready 49er fans. Steelers fans are coming into candlestick, and we taking over!!!

  2. You would think that with a running game with Gore, and targets like Crabtree and Davis, that this wouldn’t be a problem, and yet, it’s their biggest weakness.

    This isn’t new, either. This was a huge issue last year when Singletary was coaching.

  3. dont worry Niners fans, the media does this to my Packers as well. WHen youre that good, the only thing that makes the headlines is the mistakes and the negative.

    You have a stout team, just fix it or get it to managable. See you in the playoffs.

  4. Not surprised, the 9ers have played above their skill set all season, wins are wins ill give them that, I guess they are lucky to be in the weakest division in the league

  5. The 49’ers have a really good record, but they are a kinda good team. They benefit from a schedule based on the horrible record from last season. The teams they have beaten, are a murderer’s row of failure or mediocrity.

  6. I wouldn’t be surprised if the 49ers lose every game from here on out to end their fluky season. They’ll surely be one and done in the playoffs. Remember when people were saying they could challenge GB? With Alex Smith. LOL.

  7. As a Steelers fan I hope they go one more game without a red zone score. Any score for that matter!

  8. Alex Smith was actually one of the best red zone passers the previous two seasons so this is a head scratcher. Whether its playcalling or execution this needs to be fixed ASAP, Niners deserved to lose yesterday leaving that many points on the field. And why did Gore only get 10 carries???

  9. This needs to get fixed and pronto. Its very frustrating to watch this team march smartly down the field and come away with only FG’s. Hopefully they’re learning that FG’s kinda suck. This game should have been and would have been over with by halftime had the 9ers come away with TD’s with each of their red zone trips. We have receivers unable to find the ball, a QB getting sacked 6x’s and chucking garbage at the feet of receiver who probably wouldnt catch the ball anyways. Maybe he’s just trying to see if they catch better with their feet than they do with their hands.

  10. Do you mean on the West Coast my Redskins suck pretty bad to. I was at the game yesterday and they have a college scholarship charity this given a $1,000 for every touchdown they score and they were only unto $17,000.00 on week 14.

  11. 49ers need to take advantage of their WR core. Other team’s defense our figuring out the Niner offense weakness.

  12. Alex Smith regressing? NEVER! He was never good to begin with………A good defense can mask the worst QB’s………Even Tebow

  13. Here’s a wild idea. Maybe try throwing the ball to your All Pro tight end once in a while. Crazy, I know.

  14. Our offensive line has to step up their game. We have far too many high draft picks up front to be giving up this many sacks and not be able to punch it into the endzone on a consistent basis. We have a battering ram for a RB, and what should be a very good O-line. Why can’t we smash it in???
    We need some accountability up front. Alex Smith is historically great inside the 20; at least he doesn’t turn the ball over; we just need to nut up up front. If we could run the ball more solidly down there, the play action to the TE’s would open up and we would score. With 7 people in coverage in the red zone, no QB is going to find wide open guys.

  15. Blah blah Saints can’t win on the road.

    Looks like we have a 2 seed falling into our laps… I think we can avenge one game in Lambeau.

    17-1 Packers here they come!!!

  16. That’s what happens when you have a game manager QB. No matter what they say, they still don’t trust Smith. That is why no new contract, and we’ll see Peyton as their QB next year.

  17. If they had a hard time against the Cardinals, they are going to have a nightmare against the Steelers!

    The Cardinals have the Steelers old secondary coach, Ray Horton as their defensive coordinator, so what they saw against Arizona is like playing the JV of the Steelers.

    Most people were saying that the 49ers were going to make short work of the Steelers, now it isn’t looking like such an easy game anymore.

  18. This is why Packer fans like myself would rather see the 49ers instead of the Saints. The Saints can run the ball, are experienced in playoff games and they can actually score.

    The 49ers aren’t going far in the playoffs this year. On the right track though.

  19. The Red Zone used to be Alex’s strength, now it’s his kyrptonite.

    The formula yesterday was fine until it came to the redzone: Got the turnovers, didn’t give up any turnovers….just finally had to lose when settling for 3s, which will do the 49ers no good whatsoever against NO or GB.

    Right now, this is a team that MIGHT win a playoff game, but no more than that.

    They have 3 weeks to get it right.

  20. as a Buccaneers fan who has watched almost every snap, I find this statement/title highly suspect, if not impossible.

  21. Why does this article automatically assume that the Cardinals are the inferior team here? The Cardinals have Larry Fitzgerald, arguably the best and most physical receiver in all of football. Also, the Cardinals have been playing top-5 caliber defense for the past several games. They have been playing at least as good football as the 49ers, if not better, over the past month. When the Cardinals play this kind of defense, coupled with an offense that can sustain drives, look out.

  22. Alex Smith is not who we are led to believe he is. and the OL is not that good in pass protection. Although AS has slightly improved his turnover ratio and has shown signs of improvement, he is still IMO a mediocre QB. He still can’t read defenses, often times holds on to the ball a little to long, and as much as Coach H talks Alex up I believe they proceed cautiously with him. 7 years in the league and still playing and being handled like a Rookie. Real Rookies don’t get coddled the way Alex does.

  23. Here’s a wild idea. Maybe try throwing the ball to your All Pro tight end once in a while. Crazy, I know.
    Agree. They don’t utilize him enough. They constantly talk about the match problems VD poses to defenses, but when the game starts, they keep him in to block more often than not …….. and stop throwing the ball to Ted Ginn! He is a terrible WR. The long ball should be going to Kyle Williams.

  24. These 49ers would have probably been super bowl champs ten years ago, but nowadays your QB has to start winning you a game or two, especially come this time of year. The level of competition is too great for these niners. The offense needs to help out by putting pressure on teams to score. You won’t beat the saints, giants, or packers 15-12

  25. You would think with Vernon Davis this would be impossible. They need to split him out like the Saints do with Graham, but that’s asking a lot of Smith who isn’t quite brees

  26. First of all , the NFC West is no longer the worst division in the NFL. It is admittedly weak but Seattle and Arizona are both improving. The 49ers problems in the red zone are a reflection of the improvement needed on the offensive line. Harbaugh has done a great job with this team but there are some deficiencies that cannot be coached around.

  27. snarkzilla says:
    Dec 12, 2011 10:27 AM
    John Fox edging closer to coach of the year…

    I’d give it to Gary Kubiak in Houston. That team has had injuries to starters over and over again. Not just starters, but focal points of both the offense and defense. Schaub, Johnson, Foster, Mario Williams, D. Manning, all are either out for the year or have missed significant time to injuries and the Texans just keep rolling along to the Division title and possible first round bye. Crazy good job by the Houston coaching staff (and let’s face it, the award is really the coaching staff of the year, no head coach does it on his own).

    Fox has done a nice job as well, but they are barely making it by, having to make huge comebacks in almost every game. If there was an award for most exciting team I might give it to the Broncos.

  28. When did the Cardinals defense start playing? I’m used to them getting a chance to save the game late then messing up royally.

    Granted, we’ve been fortunate of late. I’m still not a Skelton fan, even though I smirked when Kolb got knocked out of a game.. again! How long will it take for the Cards to get a quality QB?

  29. Don’t understand all the fuss, the problem is easily fixed. All Jim has to do is return his borowed copy of Cam Cameron’s playbook to his brother John.

  30. Lucky for the Niners, the Steelers are riding into town in their electric wheelchairs, broken bones and strained knees and groins and hamstrings creaking, a suspension probably benching Harrison, and the Steelers’ own lack of red zone efficiency making them a good matchup for SF.

  31. Lions Fanatic… You say the Niners 10 wins are a result of being in the NFC West…

    Pretty sure they beat the Lions IN Detroit when you were 5-0.

    And they beat… The Giants
    AND the Bengals (on the road)
    AND the Eagles (on the road)
    AND the Browns (on the road)

  32. We need these last three. The Saints and coach Magnum Zoolander are about impossible to contain at home but imminently beatable on the road. I’d rather our Niners have a shot to beat-up on Green Bay a little than watch the Saints flounder in the cold weather. Yawn.

  33. I was a year early in my prediction of the 9er’s being a dominating defense, with Singletary as head coach one would have thought it a no brainer. The only dependable weapons they’ve had on offense are Gore and Davis. With Harbaugh as head coach Davis has become a rather pedestrian TE because they keep him in to block in the hopes that Smith will discover how to utilize his not completely untalented WR’s. This offense get’s pretty conservative in the red zone, like Chuck Knox conservative.

  34. Oh and as for the “NFC West” comments…

    The Niners were 9-2 after playing just one game in the division. In addition, that horrible NFC West OWNED the NFC East this year.

  35. I see two things wrong with the 49ers offense

    Greg roman is not as creative with the pass as he is with the run.

    Alex smith has been covering for his lack of play calling.
    Arizona bubble screen in the endzone when niners crammed line of scrimmage. Touchdown.
    Niners from the 4 yard line and a fade pass to edwards, run with gore. Saw that coming a mile away, then batted pass. Why no hb screens or flankers to bigger wr and not a tight end. We have Vernon Davis. Why is he not a target. Lack of personnel use properly.

    Problem is play calling outside of the redzone is great. In the redzone and roman would rather play it safe than go big or go home.

  36. Given the Niners are 3-1 against the NFC West this year, and 7-2 outside it, I don’t see how anyone can complain that they are a product of the “soft” NFC West.

    Then again, given Arizona and Seattle have both beaten two teams that currently are leading or tied for their divisions (Cards have beaten Dallas and SF, Seattle beat the Giants and Ravens) the “soft” NFC West is starting to turn things around. The Cards found a few young pieces for their defense this year, and Seattle is quietly becoming a big, physical team. The Rams….well, they’ll probably have a new coach and GM next year.

  37. Had a feeling something like this could happen…gore had ten carries probably giving him a little rest. Our secondary got dominated by Fitz which is why we lost.
    WHY are we throwing fade routes to T. Ginn and not Crabtree or Edwards? Perplexing…

  38. Saints. Ravens. Giants. 49ers. Eagles. Steelers. Cowboys. Bengals. All these teams have lost to mediocre or even terrible teams. And the bad boy afc north and NFC beast are both losers to the NFC west! NFC west quality wins and getting better.

  39. Dhnf : yea that’s what I said, I know who they beat, that’s why is said THEY HAVE PLAYED ABOVE YHEIR SKILL SET, they beat some really teams I know this, but they really aren’t that good. Aside from gore and the front seven on d, they suck, I’m happy for them Cuz they got some big wins, but they are starting to show how we knew they were. All of those teams you mentioned are really good, even the bengals to an extent. And they won them fair and square. But the 9ers werent the better team in most cases. That’s why I hope the D gets a rematch against them in the playoffs.

  40. mizzouram says:
    Dec 12, 2011 10:36 AM
    They are so over rated its nuts. They can play good D against the run, and that’s it.

    Ya coming from a rams fan! On another note Alex Smith is allergic to the endzone thats his problem

  41. Their defense can mask that offense for only so long. At the end of the day, they are still an offense lead by the Alex Smith. Once they fix that, this team could be dangerous in the playoffs for years to come, just not this year.

  42. LOL at these comments. A team loses to a decent football team on the road, one that has been playing top 10 football the last month and people start hating. SF still hasnt suffered 1 bad loss like many other teams which people rate higher than SF. in fact, only GB and SF havent lost to a crappy team this year.

    SF is very good and all you haters cant stand it. i also love opinions that cant be statistically backed up. typical hater comments. why dont all of you go back and do some actual statistical analysis with proper and credible statistics that factor variables into the equation.

    then talk. later haters!

  43. Not surprised, the 9ers have played above their skill set all season, wins are wins ill give them that, I guess they are lucky to be in the weakest division in the league
    NFC East Average record: 5.75 – 7.25
    NFC West Average record: 6 – 7

    Need I remind you that we beat your NFC wildcard bubble team The Lions…in Detroit

  44. Who cares about their RedZone Offense? The 49ers have 5 rings. How many has your team got?

    Which is the only comeback that any arrogant Niner fan can come up with whenever a fan of another team has a dig at the Niners. They even do it to Steeler fans and last I checked 6 is a bigger number than 5.

  45. Who cares about their RedZone Offense? The 49ers have 5 rings. How many has your team got?

    Six Rings.

    The Steelers are coming to Frisco, and 49er Stadium will have just as many Steeler fans as 49ers.

  46. As long as the niners have a backup quality QB starting for them,who can’t throw straight and always throws late or holds the ball too long and doesn’t throw at all and takes the sack,they will have problems with their offense. Jim Harbaugh knows Alex Smith is a big problem for the offense and he will upgrade that position (and any other position that needs upgrading,like a new RG and Center) as soon as he can. Hopefully Kaepernick is ready sometime early in 2012 !

  47. marcsasharc:

    I take it “worst red-zone offense in football”, and the link in the article to statistics that verifies this, aren’t enough?

    This team has had red zone issues against some good team (Ravens and Cards) but also against some bad teams (Rams). This has been a problem all season long. In the opener against Seattle, they had to settle for four field goals, which allowed Seattle to make it a two-point game with five minutes to go, before Ted Ginn’s return-game heroics bailed them out.

    It was a problem last year under Singletary, and it’s been a problem the entire season this year. You figure it out.

  48. trollhammer20 says:
    Dec 12, 2011 2:30 PM

    I take it “worst red-zone offense in football”, and the link in the article to statistics that verifies this, aren’t enough?

    This team has had red zone issues against some good team (Ravens and Cards) but also against some bad teams (Rams). This has been a problem all season long. In the opener against Seattle, they had to settle for four field goals, which allowed Seattle to make it a two-point game with five minutes to go, before Ted Ginn’s return-game heroics bailed them out.

    It was a problem last year under Singletary, and it’s been a problem the entire season this year. You figure it out.


    if i were talking about comments on the red zone offense then you’d be right. but clearly i wasnt, and clearly you suck at differentiating.

    run along, troll.

  49. Peyton Manning + 49ers defense = TRUE Super Bowl contender. And that may be the only way!

    Sorry, Alex (you can still be the backup)

  50. @boisestwhodat

    You mean the same Saints who lost to Tampa? And the Rams? The niners beat them by a combined score of 71-3. Figure it out…

  51. Most Overrated Team In NFL. In a different division, they’d be lucky to lock up the last wild card spot.

    To the douche talking smack last week about his Niners giving my Packers a run for their money come playoff time, I ask you, How are you going to beat the Packers when you can’t even beat the John Skelton led Cardinals?

  52. @n0hopeleft :

    The 9ers have CLINCHED their playoff spot. Lets see the Giants beat the Jets & then beat the Cowboys again to make the playoffs! Then you may run into the 9ers again and try to avenge the game you already lost to the 9ers this year.

  53. Lol look at all the niners haters pouring in. Niners will be ok. First time they lost to a losing team this year. Stuff happens. Noones dissing the saints for to tb and the rams. And noones dissing bmore for losing to jacksonville. Hate on haters. Youll see how resilient this team is come monday

  54. I really don’t see how the Saints can possibly win in Lambeau in January. They lost to them during perfect weather in September. They probably won’t play outside until they play the packers. It’s usually like 7degrees, sub-zero wind-chill, really windy, might be snow, icy turf. come on the saints don’t play well outdoors and they’re southern boys. The Packers are going to the Super Bowl.

  55. It would be nice to know the sample sizes compared to other teams. I’m guessing teams like Green Bay, New England, New Orleans or San Diego don’t have nearly as many trips to the redzone because of the styles of their offenses.

    This is no doubt a problem, but I suspect if you accounted for how many trips to the red zone each team made, we wouldn’t come up quite as woeful.


    “How are you going to beat the Packers when you can’t even beat the John Skelton led Cardinals?”

    I’m not saying the 49ers can beat the Packers (I think our odds are pretty low) but I just want you to recognize how stupid that argument is.

    The fact that 49ers lost to the Cardinals has nothing to do with how we would play the Packers. The same thing goes for the Giants and Saints, who both lost to weak teams this year. How you play one opponent has little to no bearing on how you would play a completely different opponent in a different week.

    The Packers may beat the 49ers in the playoffs, win the Super Bowl, and go undefeated, but you sir, will always be a moron.

  56. The Cardinals have one of the best receivers in the game. Totally inferior team I don’t think so.

    LF has records in the post season for yards by a receiver when he went to the Super Bowl. The safety of the 49ers should stop trying to catch the ball when it’s going to LF and just tackle him. The Cards D has been playing well the NFC West is not weak. The 49ers struggled the first time they played the Cards this time the Cards inched ahead and played good D.

    The Packers actually had a slow game against the Rams at home because the Rams played tough. The Packers didn’t reach their usual scoring average.

    Don’t underestimate playing good run D most teams are not good at it. No plays were blown by the 49ers unlike other teams, they were on the players but just got beat specifically by LF. No surprise they gave up big plays against this receiver.

    Ted Ginn is not a good WR. The teams the 49ers beat were beaten because they indeed were inferior like the Lions and Giants. The 49ers dictated the mood of those games except the Ravens.

  57. Sure percentage wise the niners are the worst in the redzone. But at least they are getting in the redzone. Unlile the rams who couldnt even cross the nimer 35 yrd line. I think the cards were only in the redzone once during the niners game. Ghost stat.

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