The San Francisco 49ers are coming off yet another loss in week 4 to the Arizona Cardinals. The team once again played well enough to win, yet came away with another loss. This has to be getting to the players, who are coming so close to wins week in and week out, but just can't finish a game off.
This week the team is on the road once again, this time they will travel to Indianapolis to take on the Colts. The Colts starting QB Andrew Luck has yet to play this season. He practiced this week for the first time all season but definitely won’t get his first start of the season this week. I want to take a look at what could decide the outcome of this game for the 49ers. This is a team in rebuild that needs a win.
QB Brian Hoyer needs to play better
Brian Hoyer had a rough day in Arizona in week 4. This is the 3rd game of the season in which the offense failed to score a touchdown. Brian Hoyer was a big reason the offense sputtered in the red zone. He was inaccurate with the football, and missed open guys more than once. HC Kyle Shanahan said this week that he has no plans to bench Hoyer for rookie QB CJ Beathard. Beathard has been getting reps with the first team offense in practice though, which could point to him getting Beathard ready to be the starter. Shanahan did say that he would not hesitate to make a change if he felt it gave his team a better chance at winning. Seems as though for the foreseeable future the team will live and die with Brian Hoyer. So far this season when the 49ers need Hoyer to perform well, he has failed to deliver. This Colts defense gave up 46 points to the Seahawks in week 4, and their offense has struggled most of the season. If this offense is going to come alive, this is the week for it to happen.
Defensive line needs to keep doing what they have been doing
The defensive line was a huge reason that the 49ers took the Cardinals into overtime in week 4. Cardinals QB Carson Palmer was under constant pressure all game and was sacked 6 times and hit 16 times. DT Deforest Buckner has been borderline unblockable this season and is turning into one of the premier defensive tackles in the NFL. This unit is going to need to continue this success this Sunday. The Colts will be starting a young QB in Jacoby Brissett. Best way to disrupt a young QB is to be in his face all game and make him uncomfortable on every snap. The 49ers have the fire power on their defense to force Brissett into making poor decisions with the football.
CB Rashard Robinson needs to play better
Robinson had a tough day in Arizona last week. Carson Palmer picked on him all game and gave up multiple big plays. He also had a few Key penalties. Robinson had a lot of hype surrounding him coming into this season. He was supposed to be the teams lock down corner. He’s has been anything but so far this season. WR TY Hilton is one of the better WRs in the NFL, the colts will look to get him one on one with Robinson to try to take advantage of that match up. Robinson will need to limit the big plays against him so the defense can get off the field. Robinson will need to get physical with Hilton at the line of scrimmage to disrupt the timing of the deep routes.
Run the ball
I talk about this every week when I look ahead to games. Last week QB Brian Hoyer threw the ball 49 times (including overtime) that seems like a lot of throwing for a game that was this close. The team is going to need to get RB Carlos Hyde and RB Matt Breida more involved in the game plan. Use the run to set up the pass. Asking Brian Hoyer to throw the ball this many times is a mistake, limit the amount of throws he has and give the ball to the play makers in the backfield.
Don't leave yards on the field
In week 4 Brian Hoyer left a lot of plays on the field. In overtime the offense was in the red zone and Hoyer threw to Carlos Hyde for a first down. On second look of the play Hoyer was staring at his Tight End, who ran past the defender and was wide open. Hoyer decided not to throw it and went to his check down out of the backfield. If Hoyer would have just thrown the ball to his Tight End in that spot it’s a TD and the game is over. These kind of plays need to be executed by the veteran QB. Hoyer has been indecisive and afraid to pull the trigger in the red zone this season. That needs to change on Sundayfor the 49ers to come away with a road win.
The 49ers are clearly a rebuilding team in 2017. Close losses where the team is showing improvement is something that will probably help the team in the long run. This team isn't one or two players away from a Super Bowl contender. The higher the draft pick the better. It’s frustrating for fans that in week 4 of the season the talk has already turned to 2018 and beyond but that's where we are. The players don't want to hear it, they will be on the field giving it everything they have. This team will give it their all on Sunday against a bad team in Indy. This is a great chance to get a road win. They should beat this team.