Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers


The Sky Is Not Falling, 49ers Fans

Brian Renick
Sep 16, 2020 at 11:43 AM0


I have recently discovered one of my new favorite shows on Hulu during this COVID-19 quarantine. It's called Letterkenny, and it's a half-hour comedy out of Canada that brings jokes, wit, and one-liners at a pace that is almost overwhelming at times. There is a LOT of Canadian slang (yes that's a real thing, and most of it comes from hockey), and one of the phrases that main character Wayne, the town's champion fighter and tough guy, says often when confronted by nonsense from somebody is "You better settle down over there or I'm gonna come talk to ya."

49er fans, you better settle down over there or I'm gonna come talk ya!

The 49ers' performance against the Cardinals in Week 1 was less than stellar. The offense looked disjointed with its top two receivers, Deebo Samuel and (unproven) Brandon Aiyuk sidelined, and the defense did not perform to the standard it set for itself last season. However, you would think, by the reactions on social media, that the 49ers lost to the Cardinals and dropped their record to 0-10. The sky has been falling on Niners Twitter since the final whistle blew on Sunday, and the cries have become even louder since news broke that Richard Sherman is going on IR with a calf strain and Akhello Witherspoon is in the concussion protocol.

The 49ers offense has been pretty pedestrian during Week 1 every season during the Shanahan/Lynch era:

2017: 23-3 LOSS to the Carolina Panthers, 217 total yards, 2 of 11 on 3rd down
  • Brian Hoyer - 24/35, 193 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT

2018: 24-16 LOSS at the Minnesota Vikings, 327 total yards, 5 of 13 on 3rd down

2019: 31-17 WIN at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 256 total yards, 5 of 13 on 3rd down
  • Jimmy Garoppolo - 18/27, 166 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

2020: 24-20 LOSS to the Arizona Cardinals, 366 total yards, 2 of 11 on 3rd down
  • Jimmy Garoppolo - 19/33, 259 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT

Just looking at these games, you can see that Jimmy G & Co. actually improved upon their previous three Week 1 performances, but the 3rd down conversion rate is what really killed the offense, and ultimately the defense, on Sunday.

Let's go ahead and forget the 2017 season and just look at Week 2 performances for the 49er offenses with Jimmy Garoppolo at QB:

2018: 30-27 WIN against the Detroit Lions, 346 total yards, 3 of 11 on 3rd down
  • Jimmy Garoppolo - 18/26, 206 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT

2019: 41-17 WIN at the Cincinnati Bengals, 571 total yards, 5 of 9 on 3rd down
  • Jimmy Garoppolo - 17/25, 296 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT

As you can see, the offense rebounded quite well in Week 2 after poor performances in Week 1. One may argue that the 49ers played inferior opponents in those Week 2 games, and you'd be hard-pressed to find somebody to disagree with you on that point. Herein lies the silver lining: the 49ers' Week 2 opponent this year is the hapless New York Jets.

The Jets' defense is coming off a performance in which it gave up 404 total yards to the Buffalo Bills, along with 27 points, 312 yards through the air to QB Josh Allen, 31 first downs, and a 50% 3rd down conversion rate. Their defense is just not very good, and that's good news for the 49er offense. On top of that, the team signed free-agent wide receiver, Mohamed Sanu on Tuesday, and he is on track with COVID-19 protocols to be able to play on Sunday. Sanu played for Shanahan in Atlanta, so his familiarity with the offensive scheme should allow him to jump right in and contribute right away. Shanahan has also stated that the team expects WR Brandon Aiyuk to be available for the game, and at the time of this writing, tight end George Kittle is probable with the knee injury he sustained against the Cardinals. Adding Sanu and getting back Aiyuk should allow the pass offense to be more dynamic and consistent for play-caller Kyle Shanahan and QB Jimmy Garoppolo.

The defense didn't look great against the Cardinals in Week 1, especially in the second half, but that can be contributed to the fact that it was on the field for 78 plays, in unhealthy air conditions, and spent much of that time chasing down Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins. Wednesday morning the team announced that it will be without CB Richard Sherman for at least three weeks when it placed him on short-term Injured Reserve with a calf strain, and also announced that CB Akhello Witherspoon, the player who would be in line to step in for Sherman, was in the concussion protocol. The 49ers were already thin in the secondary, and not having two of their expected contributors is not ideal. However, just like with the offense, there is a silver lining: at Jets, at Giants, vs. Eagles, vs. Dolphins. If there was a time at any point this season when the loss of your top cornerback can be weathered, it's this next four-game stretch for the 49ers.

The defensive line is going to have to step up to take some pressure off the secondary, and the next three opponents have suspect offensive lines. The Jets, Giants, and Eagles gave up three, three, and eight sacks, respectively, in Week 1. Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, and the rest of the 49ers' ferocious pass rush should have a field day against these teams. The CB depth for the 49ers will be tested with Sherman out, but this team is built to shut down passing offenses from the front to the back. A QB can't throw a pass from his back, nor can he make long completions if he has a swarm of defenders around him. The pass defense should be just fine during the three weeks that Sherman is out.

The sky is not falling 49ers fans.

You better settle down over there or I'm gonna have to come talk to ya!
  • Brian Renick
  • Written by:
    A full-time educator, lifelong Niner fan, Co-Host of The Denim Dungeon podcast, and a devout believer in Kyle Shanahan’s YAC Attack.
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.


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