Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

State of the 49ers: 1st Quarter

Stewart M. Cockrell
Oct 5, 2015 at 2:08 PM

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Well this season got ugly pretty quick didn't it? After watching the 49ers hand Minnesota a convincing loss, the team is now coming off three straight losses and sits at an abysmal 1-3 record. Most fans probably knew going into the season that the first quarter of the season was going to be a bit rough for our beloved 49ers. Three out of the four teams have legitimate chances to make the playoffs and even the Vikings are playing like a fringe playoff contender and it appears we got them on a bad night. As it stands right now, it is going to take some major work for the 49ers to get even close to the .500 mark to end the season.

The Good:

Aaron Lynch: After collecting his second and third sack of the season against Green Bay over the weekend, Lynch has been playing like the player we thought he could be. Projecting him out to a 10-12 sack effort in 2015 is a win for this team. While he hasn't been consistent, he has been the team's best pass rusher. Kudos to Coach Tomsula for what appeared to be him counseling Lynch after his second sack about being in the moment. Being down 14 late in the fourth quarter is not a time to show off your dance moves.

Navarro Bowman: While I hesitate to put two defensive members on here, I have to give kudos to Bowman. He has returned to form prior to his injury and he seems to be playing as good as ever. It is always great to see a good man and great player return to form. He is in for a long season, but it appears that he is not having many ill effects from his injury. Kudos to the team for holding him out all of last season so he could heal. All too often players rush back from injuries and are never the same.

Carlos Hyde: I love me some Hyde and it showed in week one that he has the goods to be our featured back. I'll give the team pass on they way they used him weeks two and three because you just can't run the ball like you want when you are down by 30. I hated that he only had 20 yards against Green Bay. The 49ers are trailing 7-3 going into the second half and leaning on Hyde for a quarter could have changed the game in our favor. How did Harbaugh beat Green Bay so many times? He kept Rogers on the sideline. If Kaepernick needs a strong running game to be an effective passer, and the team better get back to doing what it does and quick.

The Bad:

Special Teams: Good thing we traded away Andy Lee right? Understandable that he was traded due to salary cap issues, but Lee is still averaging 52.7 yards a punt in Cleveland, while Pinion is only averaging 44.3 yards per kick. With an offense as bad as ours, field position is one of our greatest assets and it just isn't happening. It has been mostly a mixed bag in the kick and punt return game because kickers are so good now that we have only had 7 kick returns this season even though it feels like we have given up a million touchdowns so far. Hayne has been a mild bright spot setting up the 49ers only points in Arizona, but he just isn't getting the touches because the defense isn't forcing fourth downs. Hayne has only 6 returns through 4 games and the team as a whole only has 60 punt return yards with most of that coming from Hayne's one return in Arizona. This team needs shorter fields on Offense. We currently rank 29th in the league in kicking which isn't going to cut it with how bad our offense is playing right now and my preseason worries that our team would struggle getting off the field on third down are coming true.

Colin Kaepernick: He easily deserves to be in the "Ugly" category, but after four games I am going to give him a bit of a pass right now because of what he is facing in games. I thought the 49ers called an absolutely perfect game for Kaepernick in Week 1, but ever since it has been back to the same stuff as last year. In Week 1, Kaepernick was constantly on the move and rolling out and hitting his targets. This might have been effective since Hyde was having a career night at the time. Bottom line is, Kaepernick is not good enough to be a pocket passer right now. He is in danger of actually getting hurt bad or having confidence shot so much that it could ruin his career. While he isn't the greatest QB in the league, let's not get too carried away on the Blaine Gabbert talk because I'm not sure if we want to go that route yet. CK7 needs to play better, but he isn't really getting a ton of help and this could be his last season in San Francisco, especially if this team goes 3-13 and there is a first round stud there for us to take.

The Ugly:

Coaching: There is something to be said about our defense under Fangio and Harbaugh. We lined up and said, "Ok. Beat us" and it worked. Personnel changes aside, I hate what Mangini is doing right now with the zone blitz concepts. I know that he has to create pressure from somewhere, but bringing both safeties into the box and then asking them to sprint downfield to cover is just pointless and it really showed in the Pittsburgh game and to some extent against Arizona. I think he called a decent game against Green Bay and Minnesota and put the team in place to win, but I don't think he is showing things to our opponent that hasn't been shown over the past 15 years. I can't say much about Tomsula because I just don't know what to think about him. Apparently he is a great guy and the players like him, but so was Singletary and we all know how that turned out. This season could be one that puts Coach Tomsula in a one and done role, especially if he looses the locker room and a hot candidate emerges. The Offensive play calling has been horrible as well. Can we get a quick slant please coupled with a three step drop?

Offensive Line: To say this is ugly might be a complement, because it has been putrid. This unit has given up 14 sacks through four games and outside of the game against Minnesota; they have not done much in the run game either. It is hard to believe that this is the best five guys we have on the team, but sadly I think it is. Even crazier to beleive is this team is actually ranked 5th in the NFL right now in rushing and I think that is mostly on the strength of Hyde's week 1 and Kaepernick running for his life the past few weeks. The right side of this line is horrid and even the left isn't playing the best either. There needs to be a shakeup quick before we end up with a QB on injured reserve. The timing of Anthony Davis's retirement really hurt this unit as it didn't allow for Baalke to draft for this need. Instead of replacing one starter, he ended up replacing three with Kilgore still out with his leg injury. If this unit can't give CK7 more time to throw, I think Anquan Boldin is going to have a seizure on the sidelines. He already looks like he is going to go nuclear at any given moment through the first four weeks.

Front Office: As fellow contributor Al Sacco analyzed last week in his exclusive, Baalke has generally been given high marks for his drafts over the past few years. And I think that most of us tend to forget that outside of 2011, he has been mostly a miss when it comes to finding talent. Three years removed from the 2012 draft and no members remain on the team. His habit of "redshirting" players has yet to really pay off like we have all hoped. It could be that this is just a painful growing year for us that will pay fruits down the way, but I just don't know. I know GM's don't hit on all the picks, but it makes one wonder if leaning on our veterans in 2011-2014 was a bad idea because we didn't allow young players to develop.

Quick Thoughts:

Aaron Rogers: His play over the past two weeks really makes me hate Mike Nolan for choosing Smith over Rogers in the draft. Smith has turned into a nice player over the past five seasons, but he isn't even close to Rogers. It really makes you wonder what Nolan and Company saw in 2004 to make that bad of a choice. No doubt in my mind that Harbaugh would have won us at least one Super Bowl with Rogers under center. Hindsight is 20/20, but this one continues to sting even ten years later.

Scheduling: The NFL didn't do the 49ers any favors over the 1st quarter. Late Monday night game and then fly to Pittsburgh for a early game against a team with ten days rest? Speaking of ten day rest, the Steelers will be coming off eleven days rest next Monday (10/12) when they play San Diego. That's 21 days rest and they haven't even had their bye (Week 11) yet. I know you have to play the games on your schedule, but now the team flies to New York for an away game? I know TNF pulls ratings, but I think moving it to Friday night would still be a draw and provide a better product both for games the following week and for the midweek game. This might be a topic for further research as the season progresses.

Contracts: While I rail on Baalke for not setting this team up to win in regards to the offensive line, I will give kudos to the brilliance of the design of Kaepernick's contract. More and more it looks like a really smart move that the team might be able to get out of in the off season. It is going to take some stellar play over the next 12 games for CK7 to enter next season as the unquestioned starter in my opinion.
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.


  • Yorks Are Dorks
    Dump Dorks Thanks,
    Oct 6, 2015 at 10:15 PM
  • Mike
    Those that say support the 49ers "thick or thin", I'd have to say "not again". 49er fans experienced 7 years of incompetent York management before the Harbaugh era. Do we really want to go through that again? NFL football is a show, a production put on for people to watch and pay money. The illusion is that somehow as a fan you matter to the team. All that matters is your money. If you want to watch 49er games and get frustrated loss after loss be my guest. As for myself, I will root for Jed York to be exposed as the stupid self centered a**hole that he really is as the 49ers lose. Because that is the reality, they are going to lose and lose big this season. Anyone that knows football knows that you don't fire a successful head coach and replace him with a line coach. It's been done in the past and 95% o the time the team has a disastrous season. It's always nice to root for a team so pick Indy (Frank Gore), Green Bay (Aaron Rogers) or Oakland (a local team). Expecting the 49ers to win this year is just going to lead you to an ulcer this year.
    Oct 6, 2015 at 4:56 PM
  • Nick
    Baalke had the opportunity to get or attempt to get free agents on the O line to replace Iupati and Davis with quality free agents (Mathis) not Devey and Pears. His stubborness is the problem plain and simple! JH was also stubborn and thats why he was let go only problem is JH knows football.
    Oct 6, 2015 at 1:22 PM
  • mbniner
    I can't understand the constant "get rid of Jed, Baalke Kaep, and the whole coaching staff" garbage that I read on nearly every site. First of all, it ain't gonna happen so get over it. In the short term, the focus should be building the best team we can with the coaches and players we have. I do believe that Pears and Devey are in way over their heads, due to below average athleticism (they're both slow as molasses) and the younger players should be given a chance. Could they be any worse? I don't think so, and it may provide a lift to team morale since everyone knows our current RT and RG aren't doing the job. Tomsula, I think, is one to let his coaches coach and just monitor the situation. But now is the time to step in and provide firm direction even if it means stepping on some toes. I don't know of any magic formula, with Davis' surprise retirement and Aldon's stupid behavior showing up on the field, but the first thing is to get control of the locker room and the coaching staff and get a real plan on offense. The defense looked much better when Mangini simplified the scheme and let the players play. He should be told to keep it that way.
    Oct 5, 2015 at 8:59 PM
  • Lucky Phil
    Following Up: York face reality, The long term prospects of this team aren't good. Even though you will make record profits this year, long term earnings will drop significantly after this year. There is no better time than the end of this season to sell the team. In Summary, You have a GM in Baalke whose long term philosophy on how to build a team is a failure. Just look at your roster, your future leaders of this team are Kap, Reid, Lynch, Armstead and Dial. Thats based on the five draft classes under Baalke. The two best players from that group, JH pounded the table for. Baalke's blueprint is a monument of failure. I'm doing you the favor of spelling it out for you. Hopefully someone on the team will drop you a note under the desk. Is that where we can find you? Sell The Team York, your an idiot and you will run this franchise into the ground. I would also like to add, there is no guarantee the NFL will continue to grow in the future. With growing concern of concussions and future lawsuits, as well as player contracts that will become Guaranteed in the future. There are potential risks in future revenue to consider. Hopefully you make the best decision for family & franchise.
    Oct 5, 2015 at 6:12 PM
  • Lucky Phil
    My opinion, observation and suggestions. #1 My opinion: This is the begining of the end. #2 My observation: This is a team owned by an lying sack of shit. #3 My Suggestion: Avoid this sack of shit and this hot pile of mess untill we get our team back. What we do? What we do? What would Lucky do? #1 Sell the team York! You will never get more for this franchise than you will today. This team is on the brink of the longest consective losing seasons since 2003-2010. Jed you are the man responsible. Yes, we all understand you have made the decisions you have made to maximze earnings; however, this is a short sighted win. Your fan base is not going to accept a step back to the dark ages with Tomsula and a team payroll 30 million below the cap. Baalke has done a great job of pairing down payroll, what you don't understand is once this team drops to the basement you will not get gift contracts from players like Kap, Torrie Smith or anyone else in the future. The crap you sign in the future you will be paying top dollar for. No One Will Want To Play Here. Baalke's mantra we build from within (Draft) is B.S. We don't sign half our star players after their rookie contracts.
    Oct 5, 2015 at 5:38 PM
  • jedediahyork
    You can't call rollouts every passing play. Kaepernick deserves to be benched, straight up.
    Oct 5, 2015 at 5:36 PM
  • lee grayling
    Bowman is not back to form. He has lost his explosiveness and ability to make lateral cuts. It's killing him in pass coverage and getting off of blocks. He seems fine when he's crashing straight ahead. On what do you base your comments that he's returned to prior form?
    Oct 5, 2015 at 5:32 PM
    Response: After reading this comment, I went back and took in the games again and you are right. I was paying more attention to his run game, rather than his pass coverage skills. He has for sure lost a step there and it was proven against he Giants. Thanks for pointing it out to me and calling my error.
  • Paul
    The only punter drafted and they took him in the 5th round. They could have taken him in the 7th round or as a free agent. He isn't Ray Guy. He wasn't top 4 in the All ACC team last year. I get Lee may have been to expensive, but they only got a 7th round pick. I can't wait to here about the good players in a few years drafter after the 5th round punter. Harbaugh seems to be doing ok at Michigan with back to back shut outs.
    Oct 5, 2015 at 4:48 PM

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