Image Credit: Andrew Giesemann
The inevitable happened: the 49ers lost a game.
Monday night’s 27-24 defeat at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks was a hard pill to swallow, knowing that they let victory slip through their fingers in a multitude of ways. What problems need to be fixed to get the team back in the win column this Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals?
Joe Staley, Mike McGlinchey, and Kyle Juszczyk all returned to the field Monday. The prevailing thought was that this would help alleviate the ills of the running game and ensure that Jimmy Garoppolo stayed upright against a Seattle defense that hadn’t shown the ability to get to the passer. None of those things happened. Garoppolo was hurried most of the night and sacked a season high five times.
The running game had an equal amount of difficulty against Seattle’s defense. Like Arizona the week before, Seattle stacked the box and sold out to stop the run, after Tevin Coleman’s 22-yard carry in the first quarter, the offense managed just 65 yards through the remainder of the game plus the overtime for a 3.2 yard average, the second week in a row where the offense has been held below 3.5 yards per attempt.
After suffering a dislocated and broken finger, Staley had surgery Wednesday and is expected to miss some time, opening the door for Justin Skule or Daniel Brunskill to step in. Either way, Staley and McGlinchey looked rusty against a defensive front that shouldn’t have given them many issues. With Arizona likely to load the box in an attempt to recreate their success on Halloween, the burden to win will fall on the passing game, which leads us to…..
The Passing Game
There are two camps when it comes to the passing game: Garoppolo is overrated and can’t win a game with his arm, or the receivers can’t create separation and drop too many passes.
On Monday both of those things were true. Marquise Goodwin, Deebo Samuel, and Kendrick Bourne all had bad drops, with one of Bourne’s falling into Quandre Diggs’ hands for an interception. Big time drops were also made by Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright on balls that Garoppolo threw right to them. With George Kittle out while nursing a knee and ankle injury and Emmanuel Sanders leaving the game after hurting his ribs, the passing offense had difficulty moving the ball on one of the worst-ranked pass defenses in football. Earlier this week Kyle Shanahan had choice words for Dante Pettis but praised Bourne, saying he had some of the best hands in the league. With Sanders missing practice on Wednesday and Kittle possibly ruled out, the time is now for this young receiving corps to show that they’re capable of taking the next step and becoming reliable targets for Garoppolo.
Arizona isn’t an easy match-up, they gave the 49ers all they could handle in their Thursday night game. The reassuring thing is while the offense seems to have taken a step back, the defense is playing as well as they have all season. Sunday gives Shanahan a chance to get his unit back on course and highlight his ability to scheme players to success. Without it we could see the 49ers drop their second straight game. Luckily for Shanahan, Garoppolo, and the rest of the offense, the issues that held them back against Seattle can be fixed a week’s time.
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