Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports


How will the ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ 49ers close out 2021?

Marc Adams
Dec 27, 2021 at 11:55 AM--


Jekyll and Hyde. Those two names could reference Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Or the names could reference the 2021 San Francisco 49ers. There have been times the 49ers have looked like the best team in the NFL. And there have been times they've looked like a team worthy of one of the top picks in next year's draft.

In Stevenson's story, Dr. Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde represent someone who is unpredictable; good some of the time and evil other times. Of course, the 49ers aren't evil. But the team has been quite unpredictable this season, good one week, and bad the next. Or good one quarter, bad the next. The names, Jekyll and Hyde, are synonymous with unpredictability and duality, in nature. Meaning, you never know what you're going to get.

Such is the case with the 2021 version of the San Francisco 49ers. If Stevenson had a "strange case" with his Jekyll and Hyde, imagine how 49ers' fans feel. Our "strange case" would rival the greatest of mysteries. And now the 49ers are in a difficult situation, with two games remaining. There is a chance they can win both games, and still not make the postseason—all because of some Jekyll and Hyde moments.

Let's take a look at the roller-coaster ride the 49ers have taken us on this season.

Detroit

This game should've been a blowout. It took the Lions several weeks to get its first win. They're a bad team.

In the opening game of the season, the 49ers were great for the first three quarters, but almost blew it in the fourth quarter. After that performance, Steve Young questioned if the team lacked maturity. I was a little concerned, but not alarmed. Opening games can be strange. But this game would turn out to be a small glimpse of what the season would be like. (Jekyll for three quarters; Hyde for one)

Philadelphia

The 49ers had a sloppy first quarter, and looked like they would have a hard time stopping the Eagles' offense. But the defense rose to the occasion, and pulled the team to victory the rest of the way. (Jekyll for two quarters; Hyde for two)

Green Bay

This game is perhaps the best indication of some Jekyll and Hyde tendencies early in the season. The 49ers were bad early in this game, especially on defense. They couldn't stop Aaron Rodgers, and it looked like it might be a blowout.

But the team turned it around and actually took the lead at the end, on a beautiful drive led by Jimmy Garoppolo, only to lose it on a last-second field goal by the Packers. (Jekyll for two quarters; Hyde for two)

Seattle

The 49ers came out strong in the first quarter, but a poor second half cost the 49ers the game. Garoppolo was injured in the first half, and rookie Trey Lance had to finish the game. The defense was unable to continue holding down Russell Wilson, and the 49ers lost the game to their hated rival. (Jekyll for two quarters; Hyde for two)

Arizona

In Lance's first career start, the 49ers got off to a slow start in the first half. They played better in the second half to make it close. If you saw that the 49ers lost this game, in which Lance made his first NFL start, you would think it was probably because of mistakes the rookie quarterback made. But it was actually the rest of the team that let him down. Lance missed some plays, as you would expect. But he also consistently pulled his team out of situations the veterans had put them in. (Jekyll for one quarter; Hyde for three)

(As a side note, it's frustrating to hear national media say Lance was terrible in his first start. He wasn't actually that bad. Making his first start, on the road, against a good Cardinals defense, Lance had 192 yards passing, to go with 89 yards rushing. I'm happy to compare his first start to the other rookie quarterbacks' first starts this season.)

Indianapolis

This was an ugly game, on the field and with the weather. The 49ers were bad overall, and the Colts dominated this game. This was a Mr. Hyde game all around. Dr. Jekyll barely bothered showing up for this one. (Jekyll for one quarter; Hyde for three)

Chicago

The 49ers looked bad early. They were facing a rookie quarterback, Justin Fields, who had been struggling up to that point. And for a while, it looked like he would actually get the win over the 49ers. But San Francisco turned things around in the second half, and won the game. (Jekyll for two quarters; Hyde for two)

Arizona

This was maybe the lowest point of the season, as it was supposed to be a San Francisco win. Kyler Murray missed the game, as did Arizona's best running back and top two receivers. But this was ugly from the very beginning, as the 49ers could not tackle a Cardinals offensive player, seemingly all game. This was the game the 49ers made Colt McCoy look like Joe Montana. (Jekyll for one quarter; Hyde for three)

Los Angeles Rams

This game was a lot of fun, as the 49ers were dominant from start to finish. San Francisco ran the ball down the Rams' throat, in a throwback game to how this team was built and what it is supposed to look like. The misdirection and creative play-calling was back. The dominant defense was back. This game was all Jekyll and no Hyde. (Jekyll for four quarters; Hyde for none)

Jacksonville

This was a blowout from start to finish, against a terrible team they should have beaten this bad. (Jekyll for four quarters; Hyde for none)

Minnesota

This was a close game in the first half. The two teams actually went to halftime tied. But the 49ers pulled away in the second half. (Jekyll for one quarter; even for the others)

Seattle

Ugh! This was just an overall poor performance by the 49ers. They can't seem to beat the Seahawks, especially in Seattle. To make matters worse, this was the worst Seahawks team in more than a decade. And the 49ers still got swept by them. (Jekyll for one quarter; Hyde for two)

Cincinnati

The 49ers had a strong first half that looked like it would be a San Francisco blowout, but the team faded late to lose a 14-point lead. The 49ers had to win it in overtime. Classic Jekyll and Hyde. (Jekyll for two quarters; Hyde for two)

Atlanta

The 49ers beat up on the Falcons just like we thought they would. But Atlanta had not yet beat a team with a winning record this season. So they weren't exactly stiff competition. (Jekyll for three quarters; Hyde for one)

Tennessee

The Titans were banged up and missing some key players. The 49ers should have blown them out, and early on, it looked like that would be the case. But a terrible second half cost San Francisco the game. And this loss may end up costing the 49ers a shot at the playoffs. (Jekyll for two quarters; Hyde for two)

Garoppolo is a classic case of Jekyll and Hyde. Take this Titans game. Garoppolo started off hot, going 8 for 8. Then he threw an interception in the end zone, and followed that by badly missing a wide-open Kyle Jusczcyk for a would-be touchdown, and another bad throw that was picked off at the beginning of the third quarter.

But then he ended the game by taking the team 95 yards down the field to score the go-ahead touchdown. Dr. Jekyll, meet Mr. Hyde.


And Garoppolo wasn't the only player to appear a little bi-polar, at times. There have been other players who would look great at times, and terrible at others.

Then there have been the other ways the 49ers have shown Jekyll and Hyde tendencies, like the defense playing great in a game, while the offense was bad. Or the offense would have a strong game, while the defense was struggling. They rarely put it all together at the same time. And that's not even mentioning the special teams play this season.

The 49ers finish this season with a home game, hosting the Houston Texans, and a road game in Los Angeles against the Rams. Both of these games are winnable. But the 2021 49ers have shown us that both games are losable, as well. It should be a fun, and stressful two weeks, as we see if the 49ers can make it into the playoffs.

In Stevenson's, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the good Dr. Jekyll ended up taking his own life, in order to keep the bad Mr. Hyde from causing more harm in the world. That's a little drastic.

If only the good 49ers could find a way to save The Faithful from the bad 49ers.
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