X Factor-(n) a variable in a given situation that could have the most significant impact on the outcome
Sunday didn’t go the way the team or fanbase hoped it would, but that’s not saying that Sunday was all bad. The defense came to play and the offense, while having four turnovers and a slew of injuries, still put up a few highlight plays to keep the game close until the closing minutes. We’ll take a look at a couple “x-factors” that could help lead the team to their first victory of the season in their home opener versus the Detroit Lions.
Pettis was one drop/underthrown ball from having three catches and over 100 yards in his debut game in the NFL. The second-round pick flashed his catching and break away abilities on his first catch as a 49er, hauling in a 22-yard thrown from Jimmy Garoppolo for a touchdown in the third quarter. Pettis showed his route-running savvy on the play breaking off his pattern when he saw Garoppolo roll out of the pocket to escape pressure, giving Jimmy a target in the back of the end zone. Pettis also added a 39-yard catch and run later in the second half to get the 49ers of out the shadow of their own goalpost. With a quad injury limiting Marquise Goodwin against the Vikings and in practice this week heading into the Lions game, Pettis should expect to see more snaps on offense and even more throws coming his way. He showed flashes in Week 1 and has the playmaking abilities that paired with Pierre Garçon could lead to success through the air for the offense.
The entire right side of the offensive line
Mike Person (sprained foot) plus Joshua Garnett (dislocated toe) equals Mike McGlinchey at right guard. After suffering injuries to starting right guard Person and back-up guard Garnett, rookie right tackle McGlinchey slid inside to play guard for the first time in his life. Speaking to Mike Lombardi of the Athletic, McGlinchey explained how responsibilities are different from tackle to guard and that he had made a few noticeable mistakes, at tackle if a player crosses your face you stick with that defender, while at guard you give a crossing player a push then continue to look for another player coming at you. He admitted that this difference lead to him engage a defender on two different plays out of habit that opened lanes to Garoppolo where McGlinchey surrendered two quarterback hits, those were also two of the three plays that resulted in interceptions. Shanahan announced Thursday that undrafted free agent guard Najee Toran had been promoted from the practice squad and was preparing to start at right guard against the Lions. If Toran can hold down the guard position Sunday and not force the running game to primarily focus on the left side of the line that should be a boost to ground attack and allow Shanahan to open up the playbook more.
Sunday’s game should be winnable for the 49ers. If Pettis and offensive line can come together and continue to show progress, it’ll pay dividends not only against the Lions but throughout the season.
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