2017 49ers Midseason Report: At Least No One Died
(originally written by D-Rock 10/29/17)
The 49ers have just completed their second quarter of the season, and have reached the halfway point of the year still chasing that elusive first win. Although there hasn't been much change in the WAY the team is playing, the dynamic has changed significantly in these four games. Let's see what led to those changes in Quarter Two...
SF @ Indianapolis
I did not get to watch this game. I was in a little town called Peachtree City on business, and as you can imagine they did not broadcast this game on their airwaves. I was relegated to following the game on NFL.com. NFL.com didn't provide video or audio of the game, but they did provide textual play-by-play aided by graphical representations. As I was following the game, I noticed the names of LB Brock Coyle and RB Matt Breida in the play-by-play texts. I assumed that NaVorro Bowman and Carlos Hyde were injured and had to leave the game. I found out later that Bowman's and Hyde's play time was being limited. This would prove to be a turning point of sorts because it led to Bowman's release.
While shocking, I wasn't bothered by this development because Bowman hadn't been the playmaker that I was accustomed to. I did not foresee his production improving, and because his heir-apparent Reuben Foster benefits from taking over the Mike Linebacker position sooner rather than later, the move is better for the team in the long run. Anyway, my final thought on this game is that it was another close one (49ers find themselves going into overtime for the second straight week) where they didn't have the oomph to close out the game.
SF @ Washington
The biggest dynamic change for this team thus far happened in this game. Many a 49er fan were clamoring for this change since halftime of the Carolina game. Had S.F. Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow been on the sideline of this Redskins game, he would have uttered his famous phrase to QB Brian Hoyer:... "I want that I want that I want that". To which Hoyer would would reply, "Huh?" Actually, Krukow would have said, "Grab some pine, meat!" Yes, Shanahan made the decision to bench Hoyer after two or three sputtering drives in the early going of this game. Shanahan saw enough good things in practice from Beathard recently, and trusted him to lead the team.
And lead the team he did, because he helped erase a 17-point deficit and kept the 49ers in the game for another nail-biter. C.J. Beathard played looser (as do most backups when inserted in the middle of the game) and did add a spark to the offense. The throws seemed to be more daring and were spread out to his different weapons. This marked the beginning of the Beathard era. How long that era lasts will be up to Beathard.
Dallas @ SF
I'm gonna make this one quick. The Cowboys defense demonstrated how NFLers are SUPPOSED to pursue the ball carrier. This was in stark contrast to the way the 49ers have been pursuing ball carriers this year <cutscene>an old mule gingerly pursuing a carrot tied to a rope on a stick <endcutscene>. The Cowboys Offensive Line were big bullies; the kind that I want my team to have. I will admit that I was jealous of the intensity that the Cowboys players were displaying. When you see that kind of play juxtaposed with the 49ers' kind of play, it depresses you because it illustrates how far off your team is from what you WANT them to be.
SF @ Philadelphia
Ugh. Back-to-back blowout games. I'm not going to overreact and start calling Beathard a bust, but I do think he has some things to clean up. He was sorely inaccurate in this game. I think he would benefit from running out of the pocket if he doesn't see an open receiver. Or at least mix it up a bit where he immediately scrambles for yardage if his first two receivers are covered. He doesn't necessarily have to take this approach EVERY time, but it's good to mix it up for the opposing defense so that they don't approach him as strictly a pocket passer.
I was impressed with the 49ers defense in this game. The tackling was much better and the penetration by the Defensive Line was noticeable. Eric Reid played a Linebacker-type role and I'm glad that Ray Ray Armstrong has seen very limited play time because he's an absolute joke of a Linebacker. If the 49ers weren't so thin at Linebacker, you better believe Coyle would be playing patty-cake with Hoyer on the sideline because he is almost a non-factor on defense.
It can be difficult to measure progress based on these past two games because the Cowboys and Eagles are steps above any team that the 49ers have played thus far. Perhaps the next two games will be good measuring-stick games.
Shanalynch are slowly but surely figuring out who on the team belongs in the NFL. What is keeping me interested in this otherwise dismal season IS the way Shanalynch are methodically molding this team into a formidable force.