49ers: Too Many Mistakes Vs. Panthers
(originally written 9/14/17)
Obviously, the 49ers did not open the 2017 season in grand style.
We all want to believe Kyle Shanahan can turn this collection of dudes into a contender, or at the very least, something worth watching. And maybe he still can. It isn't fair to judge a team solely on its first game—if that were the case, the 2015 Niners would now be among the greatest teams of all-time.
But if it wasn't clear before, it's crystal clear now—SF still needs work. A lot of it. They played hard on Sunday, no question about it. Reuben Foster looked pretty damn talented in his 10 snaps before his leg almost went snap. Carlos Hyde did his part
However, as many wrote about during the off-season and preseason, this is still an inferior offensive football team—and nobody's going to sit in the merciless Levi's Stadium sun to take in inferior football.
Only the Texans (22) and Colts (37) had larger margins of defeat in NFL Week 1. Everyone except the Bengals (0) and Giants (3) outscored "San Francisco". Only the Texans and Jets managed fewer yards than the Niners' 217. The team racked up 10 penalties, at least two of which were head-scratchingly dumb.
I give the coaching staff some credit for attacking twice on 4th down when the game was still close; I've long advocated more gambling, less kicking on 4th-and-short. However, it backfired on the 49ers both times, including once deep in the red zone.
In case you didn't notice, the Panthers' first TWENTY points were aided by short fields; on those four scoring possessions they started no further away than their own 44—gift field positions all stemming from San Francisco turnovers (fumble, INT, downs twice). The visitors were extremely beatable, and San Francisco didn't even make it interesting.
It's not getting easier in Week 2, fans. Despite an equally-disappointing offensive showing in Week 1, Seattle's still a formidable opponent—and they've got Earl Thomas back to menace opposing receivers.
If San Francisco wants to snap their seven-game road losing streak to the Seahawks—during which they've lost by an average of 15 points—their only shot is to protect the damn football and protect the damn quarterback (Brian Hoyer was sacked four times). When receivers are open, the Niners must connect—no drops, no overthrows, no underthrows.
49ERS IN STREET CLOTHES: LB Foster (ankle, 4-6 weeks). DB Jimmie Ward and TE George Kittle (both hammies) are both listed as questionable. DL Aaron Lynch was a DNP-CD vs. Carolina, and not because of his preseason ankle injury.
SEAHAWKS IN STREET CLOTHES: Just backup DB DeAndre Elliott, out for '17 with a broken ankle suffered in the preseason.
DB Richard Sherman (hammy) and LB K.J. Wright (ankle) are questionable; Sherman has missed zero games in his seven-year career and Wright hasn't sat since 2013. Ex-49er LB Michael Wilhoite was inactive in Week 1 and his status isn't presently known.