49ers Stock Watch Following Loss to Washington Football Team
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The San Francisco 49ers were felled by the team with no name. The Washington Football Team marched into the desert a handed the 49ers their second consecutive “home” loss, 23-15. As was expected, this game was hard-hitting, ugly and had significantly better defensive play than offensive fire power. Let’s get this over with.
Stock Down: Mullens Gives Game Away
Look, it is hard to pin a loss on one player. Football, more so than almost any other sport, is a team game and teams win and lose as a group. On Sunday afternoon, however, quarterback Nick Mullens gave the WFT nearly as many points (14) and he was able to lead the 49ers offense to (15). Before half, Mullens was hit from behind, fumbled the ball and could do nothing but watch as rookie defensive end Chase Young ran his way into the end zone. Then late in the third, Mullens threw the ball to no one in particular and was bulldozed as cornerback Kamren Curl scored Washington’s second defensive touchdown. In such a close game, those two turnovers from Mullens were absolutely killer.
Stock Up: Defense Dominates Another Mediocre QB(s)
The 49ers had no reason to even begin to blame their defense for this loss. They managed to hold the WFT to just 95 passing yards and 98 rushing yards for the entire game. Those are absurdly good numbers and any team would expect to walk away from a defensive performance like that with an easy win. Linebackers Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw were all over the field and would not allow the WFT to get rolling. It is clear that when the opposing team is not trotting out an elite talent at the QB position, Robert Saleh’s defense is going to dominate from beginning to end. QBs Alex Smith and Dwayne Haskins could never find a rhythm against the 49ers and were only able to muster a pair of field goals on drives that did not originate with a turnover.
Stock Up: Brandon Aiyuk is a Star in the Making
The story of rookie wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk being drafted after so many other rookie WRs has been told in this Stock Watch before. That makes it all the sweeter when he posts a stat line like he did on Sunday afternoon. Aiyuk finished with 10 catches for 119 yards and was clearly the 49ers best offensive player on the day. Hell, he was the best offensive player on the field for either team. It is scary to think what Aiyuk could become once he has more consistent play from the quarterback position. On more than one occasion, Aiyuk could be seen streaking across the field wide open only for Mullens to either over or underthrown him by a country mile. 49ers Faithful have to be excited about the future of this rookie who is approaching all of Jerry Rice’s rookie numbers quickly.
Stock Down: Injuries are the Monkey Wrench (Again)
On the first play of the game, WR Deebo Samuel took a reverse hand off for a solid 9-yard gain. But then he was seen limping across the field with a hamstring injury from which he would not return to the game and may not return for the remainder of this season. After not being able to get involved early against Buffalo last week, it was clear that the 49ers had a chunk of the offense designed to get the ball in his hands as much as possible. Following Samuel’s exit, the 49ers lacked the ability to truly stretch the defense horizontally and could never slow down the phenomenal WFT defensive line. This whole situation just felt par for the course for 2020.
Stock Down: The OL is Abused
The WFT must have been paying attention to what made San Francisco so successful last year because they are certainly trying to emulate that. They are trotting out five separate former first round picks on their defensive line and the talent is very clearly paying off. DLs Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Ryan Kerrigan, Montez Sweat and the aforementioned Chase Young all played up to their blue-chip draft pedigree on Sunday. They consistently made it difficult for Mullens to get comfortable in the pocket and limited the 49ers running game as best they could. The 49ers offensive line help up the best they could but surrendered four sacks and running backs Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson to just 3.8 yards per carry.
Stock Down: Offensive Miscues Cost Team
Head coach Kyle Shanahan looks exhausted on the sideline. Between errant throws, third down penalties and dropped passes, 2020 looks to have aged Shanahan by a full decade. Sunday’s game was full of costly mistakes at the exact wrong times. Dropped passes were an issue early as Mullens was not precise with his passes but was still throwing catchable balls. Once on third-and-eight, WR Kendrick Bourne was flagged for a false start and right tackle Mike McGlinchey was dinged for a hold after Mullens and Bourne hooked up for a crucial third down conversion at the two minute warning. The holding penalty cost the 49ers a trip to the red zone down only one score. But really, that play was the epitome of the 49ers season so far. One step forward, two leaps back.
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