Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


49ers’ Week 1 Concerns, Hope, and Key to Victory vs. Buccaneers

Bret Rumbeck
Sep 6, 2019 at 9:00 AM


The stretch between pro football seasons is a slog. It's bloated with speculation and baseless theories on who might win a Week 4 match-up, despite no team with a final 53-man roster.

We've made it nine months without the Sunday afternoon sounds of crunching plastic and cleats kicking up black rubber on a hot artificial surface.

More importantly, we have enough substance and fact to make educated guesses as to how the San Francisco 49ers' 2019 season might fare.

Faith in the Starting Offensive Line; Fear of the Reserves


I don't know if there is a fanbase that has absolute praise for its team's final 53-man roster.

The 49ers' roster isn't perfect, and while the 49er executives did make some notable additions to the defense, the lack of depth on the offensive line is the team's weak point.

Last season, the starting five men – Joe Staley, Laken Tomlinson, Weston Richburg, Mike Person and rookie Mike McGlincheyallowed only 18 sacks, but also gave up 162 quarterback pressures, 91 hurries, and 34 hits.

Additionally, these five men paved the way for 49er running backs to rack up 1,769 rush yards on 364 attempts. For the anti-math crowd, that's an average of 4.6 yards per rush. These efforts resulted in a 71.1. run-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus, ranking the 49ers' 4th overall.

More importantly, these five offensive linemen played together for approximately 1,058 snaps. And to count a little higher, Staley and Tomlinson have played side-by-side for around 2,000 snaps through two seasons.

These small football nuances give me faith in the starting line. Experts cannot measure how well these five men know one another and can audible the pass protection or change a run block with nothing more than a nod.

Unfortunately, the 49er brass went through another offseason without adding any depth to the offensive line's reserve unit. Tackle Shon Coleman's season-ending leg injury put a massive black hole in the depth chart.

Once again, general manager John Lynch had to scramble to find someone to compete for the back-up role.

Hoarding low talent, low dollar offensive linemen is a reoccurring problem with the 49ers. I have a hard time believing anyone at 4949 Centennial Boulevard thought veteran Willie Beavers was a critical offseason addition.

Once final cuts arrive, Lynch and the coaching staff end up choosing among men who have no business being on a professional football roster.

I have little faith that tackles Justin Skule and Daniel Brunskill can step into a long-term starting role for the 49ers. These men are not suitable for a back-up role. Practice squad linemen do not win championships.

As usual, the 49ers enter the 2019 season one significant injury away from a porous offensive line.

Robert Saleh: Plans for Success, Not for Demise


We don't need an in-depth dive into why the 49ers' defense had its share of struggles last year. Injuries, inexperience, and a lack of edge pass rush resulted in the team finishing with the 5th worst overall defense in the NFL.

However, the 49ers' defense didn't look too bad in some statistical categories. Somehow, the 49ers' pass defense finished 11th overall despite giving up 35 passing touchdowns. The run defense also did well, finishing in the top half of the NFL.

Too often it feels as though defensive coordinator Robert Saleh keeps his foot hovering over the brake pedal like a nervous driving school instructor. Sometimes, we do see him call an aggressive series, but it's few and far between.

And, yes, he has a strange tendency to drop his defensive linemen into coverage.

Don't buy into the social media commentary; Saleh's defensive scheme is sound. The theories behind what he wants to do work in today's NFL; he's lacked the necessary pieces to fully execute the blueprint down to every nail and flathead screw.

If there's anyone I want to succeed this year, it's Saleh. I want to see what he can do with a fully functioning defense, and call a shut-down game against a top tier offense.

The 49ers' Defense is the Key to a Week 1 Victory


There's plenty of preseason tape the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can watch to prepare for the 49ers' offense.

However, there's nothing of substance the Buccaneers can use to prepare for the 49ers' defense.

Keep in mind that the starting defense did not play a down together in the preseason. Edge defenders Dee Ford and Nick Bosa are unknown factors. Teams have not seen what these two men can do or the ripple effect an intense pass rush can have for the defense.

Any notion that Bosa will only play the left edge position, as noted in the official depth chart, is absurd. Put Ford on the closed side, Bosa on the open side, and let's see how much fun the 49ers' defense can have Sunday afternoon.

Additionally, I did not see the 49ers align in the 'new' wide-9 that often during August. Saleh did fall back on a wide weak side look, but that's an alignment Saleh's used for the last two seasons.

If Saleh wants to prove himself to his doubters, then Sunday afternoon is a prime opportunity to showcase his ability. Saleh's defense can seal a Week 1 victory right away by picking off Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston early in the game. A few sacks sprinkled through the first half and even possibly another takeaway could be all the spark the 49ers need to trounce the Buccaneers.

I'm still unsure what the 49ers' offense is capable of, especially if it needs to mount a 14-point comeback late in the game. That's not a slight to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo or head coach Kyle Shanahan, but a realistic view of the facts we have before us.

As of writing this, Shanahan has still not named a starting center for Sunday. Veteran Weston Richburg has been limited in practice this week, and it's unclear if he's going to be ready to play live football. Ben Garland played center with the first-team offense during the preseason and played well, but there's no correlation between good preseason play and great regular season play.

The lead-up to Week 1 games are a great time to be a football fan. Even with roster doubts or secondary fears, we're walking around filled to the brim with hope and optimism, counting the seconds until kick-off.

All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference unless noted.
  • 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 opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


0 Comments

  • No Comments

Facebook Comments



More San Francisco 49ers News



3 keys to victory for the 49ers against the Seahawks in Week 2

By Rohan Chakravarthi
Sep 17

The San Francisco 49ers face off against their division rival Seattle Seahawks in Week 2, following a disappointing loss to the Chicago Bears last weekend at Soldier Field. Meanwhile, the Seahawks defeated the Denver Broncos by a point, spoiling Russell Wilson's highly anticipated return to Lumen Field after being traded this offseason for a number of future draft selections. Here are the keys to winning for the 49ers against the Seahawks in Week 2: 1. Penalties, Penalties, Penalties... It had to be mentioned. The 49ers committed 12



Week 2: 49ers' Keys to Victory vs. Seahawks

By Wayne Breezie
Sep 18

The San Francisco 49ers are home at Levi's Stadium to take on the division-leading Seattle Seahawks at 1:05 PM PST. The 49ers lost to the Bears in Week 1, and they're looking to bounce back against the Seattle Seahawks. So here are my five keys to victory: ESTABLISH The Run The Seahawks are ranked 15th in stopping the run. They gave up 103 rushing yards to the Denver Broncos. The 49ers are ranked eighth in rushing the ball. They rushed for 176 yards against the Chicago defense. While Elijah Mitchell is injured, the 49ers have many running backs to get the job. Expect the



Week 3 Keys to Victory: 49ers vs. Broncos

By Wayne Breezie
Sep 24

The 49ers are in the Mile High City, ready to face the Denver Broncos. Last week, the 49ers defeated Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks, improving their record to 1-1. However, one key piece missing from Seattle was former QB Russell Wilson. Wilson is 17-4 (including the playoffs) against San Francisco. His last loss to the 49ers was on December 29, 2019. Wilson has the Broncos sitting at 1-1, but he doesn't look like the same quarterback from the past. If the 49ers want to improve to 2-1, here are a few KEYS to VICTORY. The 49ers MUST CONTAIN Russell



Key stats from the 49ers' 27-7 Week 2 win over the Seahawks

By Site Staff
Sep 18

The San Francisco 49ers bounced back from their Week 1 loss, beating the Seattle Seahawks at Levi's Stadium by a score of 27-7, and improving to 2-0 on the season. Below are several statistics and notes from Sunday's game, which were provided by the 49ers Communications staff. With The Win… The 49ers improve to 10-13 at home against the Seahawks. San Francisco claims its first win over Seattle since 12/29/19. Dating back to 2021, the Niners have won their fourth-consecutive game following a loss. 49ers Defense The 49ers defense held the Seahawks to 216 total net yds. of offense. Seattle's


Featured

More by Bret Rumbeck

More Articles

Share 49ersWebzone