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Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

13 Observations from the 49ers’ monsoon loss

Marc Adams
Oct 25, 2021 at 8:28 AM--

What an ugly night. And the weather was bad, too!

It was wet, it was windy, and the San Francisco 49ers reached a new low, losing 30-18 to a Colts team they really should have beaten. There were a monsoon of mistakes, on both sides of the ball, to accompany some questionable play-calling. The 49ers, who have an intimate relationship with self-inflicted wounds, were 1-11 on 3rd down, and committed four turnovers, to go along with seven penalties for 122 yards.

The weather didn't make it any easier, but I'm not sure it would have turned out any different on a sunny day. Here are my 13 observations from the 49ers monsoon:

  • Elijah Mitchell had a great game. He should have been used more. The rookie had almost 100 yards rushing in the first half. He had 57 on the first drive alone. But then Kyle Shanahan went away from feeding him so much. I'm not sure why. But it didn't work. (More on Shanahan below)
  • Turnovers make a difference. The 49ers once again lost the turnover battle (by -2). Losing turnover battles normally equates to losing games. It did last night. And when the 49ers did take the ball away, they didn't capitalize, scoring only three points on their two takeaways.
  • Are Josh Norman and Dre Kirkpatrick really that much better than the two rookies? Norman made a few good plays, but he also had his weekly pass interference penalty. Kirkpatrick came in late when Emmanuel Moseley was injured, but he was worse than all the others, giving up a long touchdown pass. It looked like he didn't even try to break it up. I can't imagine Deommodore Lenoir and Ambry Thomas are any worse than these old guys.
  • Speaking of rookies, why does this coaching staff hate playing them? Lenoir and Thomas were both healthy scratches. Aaron Banks dressed for the first time, but did not play a single snap. Trey Sermon didn't play on offense. Trey Lance is injured, but even if he wasn't, I'm not sure how much he would have played. It seems like the 49ers draft players to play down the road. But some of them need to be playing now.
  • Joey Slye can make long fields in the rain, but not extra points. That missed PAT loomed large the whole game. I'm not saying they lost because of the missed one-pointer, but if the game had been tied down the stretch, perhaps Shanahan would have been calling things differently. But I doubt it.
  • Four defensive pass interference penalties led to most of the Colts points. The 49ers lead the league with 14 DPI. This secondary is not good. Again, can the rookies be any worse? At least they'd be learning and developing.
  • The Colts secondary was really banged up coming into the game. It got worse for them during the game, yet the 49ers did not attempt to throw the ball downfield. Meanwhile, the Colts lived off of the "heave it and hope for a pass interference" call all night. That strategy worked. Jeff Deeney, of Pro Football Focus, seems to have agreed:

  • Kyle Shanahan said two things of note last week:

  1. "Garoppolo doesn't have problems throwing a wet ball." I think we can see that wasn't true. He turned the ball over three times.
  2. "The 49ers don't practice wet ball drills." Maybe they should.

  • The 49ers can't win at home anymore. How long has it been since they won a game at home? Early last season?
  • George Kittle, please come back...soon.
  • Shanahan was brilliant one drive and terrible the next. I just don't understand what's going on with him right now. The 49ers offense has been really good when using misdirection, play-action, rollouts…and terrible when not. I am confused as to why Shanahan continues to go away from what's working. He does this every week. He did it in the Super Bowl, as well. His offense is dynamic and creative one minute, and dull and ineffective the next. Darius Leonard, the Colts star linebacker, had an interesting comment after the game. He said, "They did a great job, especially on the first drive, of misdirection runs and putting us in bad positions to make plays. I was glad they kind of went away from that." Wow. That speaks volumes.
  • I'm growing concerned about Shanahan and John Lynch, and their ability to win the 49ers a sixth super bowl.
  • One thing is for certain, the 49ers lack great leadership within the locker room. I'm not sure they have been beaten by an opponent even once this season. Each loss has been self-inflicted. That's a sign of an immature team. Steve Young talks a lot about leadership in the locker room. The 49ers were in the Super Bowl in February 2020. Over the next two months, they traded DeForest Buckner and lost Joe Staley to retirement- their top two leaders. They haven't been the same since.

And I didn't even bring up the very strange challenge that wasted a timeout the team needed late in the game.

Next up is Chicago. My guess is Shanahan will have Garoppolo start the game, regardless of Lance's health status. But if the 49ers can't beat the Bears, I would think it has to be Lance the rest of the way.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.

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