The 49ers had a rough day on Sunday in Kansas City. Not only did the Chiefs offense score six touchdowns on their first six drives, the team lost their leader and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to a season ending knee injury, a tough blow for a team with playoff aspirations. According to Vegas, Jimmy Garoppolo is worth 6.5 points a game, making him one of the most valuable players in the NFL.
As painful as it may be, I want to look back at some of the good and bad from one of the toughest games for 49ers fans in a while.
The Chiefs offense is a juggernaut this NFL season. They are the top scoring offense in the NFL with just over 39 points scored a game. Patrick Mahomes is off to a historic start to this season and showed why he was such a high pick in the 2017 NFL draft. Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has shown throughout his coaching career that he is one of the better playcallers in the NFL, and he finally has a quarterback that fits what he wants to do perfectly.
In great offenses on most plays the quarterback just has to take what the defense is giving him. As 49er fans know, a good playcaller can get receivers open on a regular basis. Andy Reid is no different. Mahomes doesn't have to do anything special on this play to have a big gain. Travis Kelce is one of the better tight ends in the NFL, but why is he so wide open? Reid created the open space with the route combination at the bottom of the screen. The outside receiver runs a go route to hold the outside cornerback and the free safety. The defense is in a Cover-3 zone, with the two outside cornerbacks and the free safety responsible for deep thirds. Reid knew the free safety and the cornerback would carry the deep route. The running back slips out into the flat holding the linebacker and the slot cornerback, who both have underneath coverages. One of them should have carried the tight end into the middle of the field, but the route combination caused confusion in the defense. These kinds of lapses by the defense are one of the big problems so far this season. Up against an offense like the Chiefs it cost the team big time.
Somewhat of a theme so far this season is Kyle Juszczyk getting wide open for a big play. How did he get so open? Another fantastic play call from head coach Kyle Shanahan. Juszczyk is lined up as a tight end on the strong side of the formation. Play-action boot is a staple of the Shanahan offense and is directly related to the outside zone run play. The 49ers spent the majority of this drive hammering the defense with outside zone run plays with running back Matt Breida. The defense over pursues the outside zone play fake, and the middle linebacker -- who is peeking into the backfield -- doesn't notice Juszczyk running right across his face. He carries the route over top of him and lets Juszczyk by. The weakside linebacker carries the running back out of the backfield. Due to there not being a wide receiver on that side of the field, that leaves a ton of space for Juszczyk for a wide open touchdown. Great design and great execution by the offense.
C.J. Beathard’s first pass of the season went for a touchdown to tight end George Kittle on a fourth down play late in a 14 point game. Though the play got called back on a questionable offensive pass interference call, it was still a very impressive throw. Kyle Juszczyk is lined out wide and is running an in-cutting route, the receiver gets in his way while running the route and that is what got flagged. Juszczyk route holds the outside corner. Kittle, on an out-breaking route, is one-on-one with a defender. Beathard puts the ball in a perfect spot and Kittle makes a great catch for a touchdown that should have counted.
Losing Jimmy Garoppolo is a big deal for this team. He has yet to be with the team for a full year, but the roster was really built around him. We really aren't sure what this team is going to look like without number 10. If the one throw from Beathard is any indication, this offense may not be in as bad of shape as some are expecting. Next week against the L.A. Chargers will be very telling on where this team is with 13 games left in the season, five of which are prime-time games. The NFL world will be living the C.J. Beathard story out just as 49er fans will be.
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