49ers have lost 7 games in a row to start the 2017 season. Fans had high hopes going into this season with new HC Kyle Shanahan at the helm. Shanahan had one of the best offenses in NFL history with the Falcons in 2016. Come to find out the 49ers don’t have a Julio Jones or a Matt Ryan. The 49ers have a talent issue. The team got worked by a much more talented Cowboys team. Cowboys have a franchise QB, a difference maker at RB, an elite offensive line, and an elite pass rusher. 49ers have none of those, GM John Lynch has his work cut out for him.
It doesn’t get any easier for the 49ers in week 8, the team will travel across the country to Philadelphia to take on the 6-1 Eagles. Eagles QB Carson Wentz is coming off of a 4 TD game and leads the NFL in touchdown passes. Eagles are flying high coming off of a tough win against rival Washington on Mondaynight football. Can the winless 49ers go into Philadelphia and get a win?
Give QB CJ Beathard time in the pocket
Rookie 3rd round pick CJ Beathard made his first NFL start last week against the Cowboys. His offensive line did him no favors. Beathard was sacked 5 times and hit 8 times. He was under fire all game and barely had any time to make throws. Beathard still had 235 yards in this game, but held onto the ball a bit too long at times. If this 49ers offense is going to move the ball against this talented Eagles defense, Beathard is going to need to have time.
RB Carlos Hyde needs to touch the ball more
HC Kyle Shanahan clearly likes to throw the ball. This is the offense that he wants to run. The 49ers best offensive player is RB Carlos Hyde. He had 14 carries in week 6, though the team was behind a lot, this isn’t enough carries for Hyde. Forcing rookie QB CJ Beathard to throw the ball 38 times isn’t going to be a winning formula. Stick to the run, even if the team is behind a couple of scores. Force the defense to respect the run, let Carlos Hyde break tackles for 1st downs, and let Beathard beat the defense with play action.
Generate a pass rush
The Cowboys offensive line manhandled the 49ers defensive front in week 6. DT Deforest Buckner is clearly the 49ers best player on defense. The Cowboys double teamed him on just about every snap and force other players to make plays. No one stepped up for the 49ers in week 6. This week the Eagles will look to do the same. Their left tackle Jason Peters tore his ACL and MCL and is out for the season. The Eagles have a very good offensive line but the loss of Peters will be tough to replace. 49ers are going to need to win the battle in the trenches and pressure Carson Wentz early and often. Wentz has shown that when given a clean pocket, he will tear up a secondary.
Don’t give up the big play
49ers have a serious need at corner. That’s an issue that won’t get addressed until the offseason. For now, the team has to deal with what they have. The corners for the 49ers have been beaten consistently when the defensive line has not generated pressure. This young unit is going to need to step up and keep these Eagle wide receivers in front of them to not give up the big play.
Stop TE Zach Ertz
Ertz is clearly Carson Wentz’s favorite pass target. He has yet to be slowed down by a defense through the 1st seven weeks of the season. The 49ers will need to focus on keeping him contained. SS Jaquiski Tartt and SS Eric Ried (who took snaps at weak side linebacker in week 7) will have the main responsibility of containing Ertz. Both are athletic enough and strong enough to hang with Ertz, but will need a big day to keep him in check.
Don’t shoot yourself in the foot
The 49ers are going to need to keep this game close with the run game and sound defense. The Eagles are clearly a more talented team, but they are on a short week and playing a team they should beat. The 49ers played teams close all season with exception to last week’s game. The big issue the 49ers have had have been self-inflicted. They are one of the most penalized teams in the NFL and have been plagued by drops and boneheaded plays by the corners. The 49ers will need to play a flawless game if they want to go into Philly and get a win.
This season is clearly one we will all want to forget. There are still things that we will want to watch for. Young player development will be a big thing to keep an eye on. Is rookie QB CJ Beathard the answer at QB? Will DE Solomon Thomas step up to be an all pro caliber player? Is TE George Kittle the tight end one next season? The next 9 games will answer a lot of these questions. Let’s see this team and this coaching staff fight till the bitter end of a tough season. The good doesn’t feel so good without the bad, and we are getting a lot of the latter.