Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports


Week 2 Prep: Two Quick Improvements and One Long-Term Problem

Bret Rumbeck
Sep 12, 2017 at 11:15 AM6



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!

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.
  • Bret Rumbeck
  • Written by:
    Bret Rumbeck has been writing about the 49ers since 2017 for 49ers Webzone and 49ers Hub. He is a Turlock, CA native, and has worked for two members of the US House of Representatives and one US Senator. When not breaking down game film, Bret spends his time seeking out various forms of heavy metal. Feel free to follow him or direct inquiries to @brumbeck.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


6 Comments

  • Aint Chon
    Shannahan is no Harbaugh..offensive line has been an issue for the last 3 years; Ballke, vampire squid and jed dork brown noser let the line go to shit because he thought line men were overpaid and drafting players with ACL tears thinking he was getting some kind of great value and impressing dorks. Of course when it did not work out he and dork watched the team go to shit. Ballke knew his last draft...well was his last. He needed Harbaugh to help him look good but the stupid schmuck fires him. Now he works for the NFL doing some stupid shit job that suites him better i guess.
    Sep 15, 2017 at 10:06 PM
    4
  • Paul
    I think the defense looked much better, and the offense looked about the same as the last few years. They gambled to early in a close game on 4th down twice, and put more pressure on the defense. A few bad plays in the secondary. The pass rush needs some work. The offensive line needs major work.
    Sep 14, 2017 at 1:15 PM
    9
    Response: Thanks for reading, Paul. I rewatched the film again last night and the defense looked better. Carolina closed the game out with 10 straight runs, driving all the way to the 49ers' 49-yard line. Frustrated to watch them let Carolina control the last quarter like that. I did like Shanahan going for it on 4th down. That was a new twist to the offensive strategy. But, totally agree... offense looked as flat as previous years.
  • mbniner
    I am disappointed in the lack of pressure on by the front 7. Fosters injury affected that but that's no excuse for the front 4. Carridine is better than Thomas at this point and should be playing more. Thomas needs to gain muscle and needs time to develop NFL skills. As far as the OL, Shanahan and Lynch did make an effort to upgrade by trading for Zuttah who had played very well fore the Ravens. The idea was to play him at center and make Kilgore a backup. Garner's injury and Zuttah's flameout killed that plan. As everyone that I have read has said, you can't do everything in one year and the unexpected (like injuries) slow things down. Patience.
    Sep 13, 2017 at 10:16 AM
    11
    Response: Thanks for reading. I agree with you on having patience this year. What sticks out to me as a huge, huge flaw in Sunday's game was the continued lack of urgency from the offense. This was obvious at the end of the first half. Good call on Zuttah, but I still believe the 49ers should have taken an interior lineman in the 3rd round. It's hard to rely on scraps in the free agent market.
  • Bill Bruneau
    Why did they release a promising young linebacker when they are so thin at that spot? Did exchanging for a safety mean they do not expect Ward back anytime soon?
    Sep 12, 2017 at 11:39 PM
    14
    Response: Thanks for reading. I assume you're talking about Ben Boulware?I liked watching Boulware in college, but assume they just brought him in for the week to get insight into Carolina's defense. Hamstring injuries don't heal quickly. Ward might be feeling good, but have to guess he won't play until he's in better shape.
  • SkyZer0
    I stopped at "the 49ers looked like the same team, running the same plays," because you have no idea what you're talking about. period.
    Sep 12, 2017 at 1:23 PM
    14
    Response: Thanks for reading. Again, I am using a bit of creative liberty to make a point. If one were to compare Sunday's game to a game under Tomsula or Kelly, one may notice striking similarities: They did not sustain long drives; they did not put points on the board or score in the third quarter; they displayed poor clock management; they hardly pressured the opposing quarterback; they have sub-par talent on the offensive line. I'm well aware the offense and defensive schemes are different. However, the deep play to Goodwin on 3rd and 3 was nothing more than a snag concept. While nothing revolutionary, Harbaugh used to run that with Smith and Kaepernick behind center. Same play? Probably not step for step... but same concept? Absolutely. However, I applaud Shanahan for designing routes that send his receivers past the first down marker. That's a major difference between this team and the previous coaches.
  • Michael Berry
    Kaepernick is available. He had very good stats last year with the same crappy offensive line.
    Sep 12, 2017 at 11:52 AM
    15

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