Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports



The season was not supposed to start this way. I had prewritten an editorial on Saturday, assuming the San Francisco 49ers were going to fight for 60 minutes but ultimately lose to the Carolina Panthers on a last-second field goal.

What a game! These mighty men are chock full of true grit, By Jove! There are fantastic possibilities of victory ahead!

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Alas, that article went into the cyber trash can on my laptop, and I had to start again.

For the last nine months, we've waited to see the new era of football in Santa Clara. This time, the organization was serious about rebuilding, and Sunday was supposed to be the public exorcism of the Ghosts of Coaches Past.

Instead, the 49ers looked like the same team, running the same plays, and making the same mistakes as we saw in previous seasons.

Head coach and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan must make immediate adjustments before the northbound flight to the Emerald City. Here are two direct changes and one unfixable issue as we enter Week 2.

Get This Squad on the Move!


Late in the second quarter, the 49ers began a drive at their 25-yard line with 3:23 left on the clock and down by ten points. Even a casual football fan knew the 49ers needed to run a three-minute offense, score six points and walk into the comforts of an air conditioned locker room with the pendulum swinging back in their direction.

What we saw were the same ol' pokey 49ers.

The offense operated with zero sense of urgency, much as it has done under previous regimes. When the 49ers turned the ball over on downs, they'd run six whole plays, drove 30 yards down the field, and took over two minutes off the clock.

The Panthers had no problem operating with speed and efficiency. They ran seven plays in 42 seconds and tacked on three points as the clocked flipped to zeros.

I'm at a loss as to how or why Shanahan did not direct quarterback Brian Hoyer to run a no huddle offense. In fact, the team ran three plays before the two-minute warning. That would be three plays in 83 seconds if you wanted to see the math.

Clock management is not a growing pain from a rebuilding team; it was Shanahan's first test, and he showed up to class naked and without a number 2 pencil. A three-minute offense is not a new concept to football, yet it continues to look foreign to the 49ers no matter who is in charge.

This week, Shanahan cannot cede control of the game to Seattle's defense. The 49ers' offense must control the ticks of the clock and tempo of the match.

Heavy on the Brakes; A Soft Caress of the Gas


Going into Sunday, I was excited to watch the 49ers' new defense operate, specifically the defensive line and linebackers. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh's philosophy of 'extreme physicality' has been refreshing, and we were able to see glimpses of his aggressive scheme during the preseason.

Overall, the 49ers defense allowed 116 yards rushing on 38 attempts; Carolina's longest run of the day was only 11 yards. Quarterback Cam Newton threw for 171 yards on 14 completed passes and was picked off by free safety Jaquiski Tartt.

Despite Tartt's acrobatic interception, he missed three tackles in the secondary and committed an extraordinarily dumb personal foul penalty against tight end Greg Olson. Tartt aside, the Panthers' receivers found soft spots in the secondary all afternoon, which could be due to the lack of pressure the 49ers applied to Newton.

Pro Football Focus noted the 49ers' defense had a total of eight quarterback pressures Sunday. It's unclear if linebacker Reuben Foster's injury forced Saleh to alter his game plan and call fewer blitzes.

The 'all gas, no brakes' philosophy that excited fans this offseason looked more like a beat up 1978 Datsun 210 driving through the Mojave Desert sand on four bald tires.

The Seattle Seahawks have done an incredible public relations job to hide their porous offensive line, which gave up three sacks against Green Bay. This week, Saleh needs to lay off the brake and keep a heavy, lead foot on the gas pedal. Also, in case Saleh reads this: Wilson loves rolling to his right.

What You Reap is What You Sow: The Lack of an Offensive Line


The team's offensive line is the shunned elder brother who's homeless and whose siblings won't allow inside for a hot meal or shower.

"We can provide nothing! You must improve on your own!" the brothers and sister shout as they push the disheveled figure off the front porch.

Veteran guard Zane Beadles had a rotten performance on Sunday, allowing a quarterback sack, hit, and four hurries. Pro Football Focus gave him a grade of 23.1, the lowest of all guards during Week 1. Center Daniel Kilgore and right guard Brandon Fusco did not grade out much better, with Pro Football Focus grading Kilgore at 50.8 and Fusco at 50.5.

As much as Shanahan wants to push the ball downfield, it's going to be a futile effort with the subway turnstiles at the guard position.

Unfortunately, the 49ers do not have quality reserve players to replace Beadles. In typical 49er fashion, they refused to draft a lineman, didn't bother paying for a high-quality veteran during the offseason, and were forced to trade a fifth-round draft pick to the Detroit Lions for Laken Tomlinson, a below average veteran guard.

There is no amount of magic or pixie dust that will improve the offensive line in a week, and the lack of investment in an interior line position will continue to impact the team this season.

It's only one game of a long, four month season. One game of poor play is not a reflection of an unknown season. However, Shanahan cannot allow the 49ers to fall into old patterns of mediocrity and mistakes. He faces a tough, despised opponent this Sunday and needs to find new strategies to help the team rebound from a stinging loss.