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Robert Saleh Fails 49ers in the Biggest Spot

Gilbert Brink
Dec 8, 2020 at 7:02 AM


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What a complete and utter disaster. 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh is one of the hottest candidates for a head coaching gig in 2021, but last night Saleh turned in a red-flag performance. The Buffalo Bills are a very good football team, much better than these 49ers. That being said, Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll eviscerated Saleh's defense on nearly every play he called.

The score was 34-24, yet the 49ers never had a chance. Bills QB Josh Allen was unstoppable, and the 49ers only hung around due to a few Buffalo hiccups. To understand how poorly Saleh coached, take a look at how the 49ers faired on 1st down alone. On 31 1st down plays (excluding FGs and kneel-downs), the 49ers surrendered 197 yards and 2 TDs. Those numbers alone would be a good stat-line for most QBs. The Bills gashed the 49ers regularly for large gains on 1st down, allowing 6.3 yard per play and enabling OC Brian Daboll to have 2 downs to often get 2-3 yards. Saleh coached a stubborn game. It didn't take long for anybody to notice that sending 4 rushers to pressure Allen was not going to get the job done. Saleh didn't get the memo. Allen weaved his way through the front 4 to continuously find receivers down the field. If there is one clear knock on Josh Allen, it's his propensity to at times play chaotic and make mistakes. It's hard to understand how Saleh didn't see that on film, and look to apply pressure in hopes of generating turnovers like the 49ers did last week vs. LA. This, by far, was the most frustrating part of this loss to digest.

The defensive failure wasn't solely on Robert Saleh. The 49ers secondary, one that has been impressive in 2020, turned in a poor performance from nearly every member of the unit. S Tarvarious Moore looked confused, CB Richard Sherman looked old, and CB Jason Verrett was abused by Bills WR Stefon Diggs early and often. The 49ers will have a lot of decisions to make in free-agency in 2021, specifically in the secondary, where the majority of that unit will be free to sign elsewhere. Choosing the CBs to keep from the 4 (slot CB K'Waun Williams, CB Richard Sherman, CB Jason Verrett, and CB Emmanuel Moseley) scheduled for free agency will be a tough decision that has major implications for the future of the 49ers defense. Against the Bills, none of these players made a strong case for a hefty investment.

Robert Saleh and the 49ers cannot hang their heads low for long. Facing a short week, and a surging opponent in the Washington Football Team, the 49ers face an absolute must-win game. Lucky for them, Washington QB Alex Smith will never be mistaken for Bills QB Josh Allen. Washington wins with a stout defense (4th in the NFL in yards allowed per game), so don't expect QB Nick Mullens to save the 49ers' season here. Saleh will have to return to form against a WFT offense that ranks 26th in the league. Be cautious of the numbers, though. Since former 49er Alex Smith took over at QB, the WFT has been much improved on offense and just defeated the previously undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers. It's now or never for the 49ers, and Robert Saleh will be standing at center stage.
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.


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