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Week 10: Lessons Learned This Game & This Season

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Well, here we are, once again. Some happy to lose while others are still reeling and enraged over another woulda-coulda-shoulda game the team choked away. Top 3 pick virtually ensured. Whoopedeedoo. While Marvin49 is taking a break -- and has been for a while now -- from writing about another agonizing defeat, let me step in to go over some of the things we've learned not only in this game, but this season. *takes a deep breath* ...

Lack of Receiving Weapons: Part I
Jimmy G, CJB, and Mullens -- You've seen it. I've seen it. We've all seen it. And that "it" is their hesitation in the pocket and holding onto the ball while frantically scanning the field for a place to throw the ball. This is not a coincidence. As much as we wanted to blame Jimmy for eating it early on, and then CJB for getting lit up for holding it too long, we've now seen all three Niner quarterbacks with time to throw hesitate and wait and wait and wait desperately hoping someone will come open. Jimmy took sacks. Beathard got pummeled and fumbled. Mullens eventually forced balls into tight coverage hoping a guy would make a play.

Lack of Receiving Weapons: Part II

Kittle is the only guy who can get open so it's no surprise he's the leading receiver. As much as I want to like Pettis, it is abundantly clear he is terrified of getting hit. Taylor and Garcon are so slow and rarely separate unless a coverage is blown. James is promising, but needs a lot more snaps. Bourne is wildly inconsistent and his poor body language and lack of effort late in the game yesterday really pissed me off. Goodwin can separate but teams are often bracketing him knowing no one else can win one on one. There are only so many plays Kyle can design to go Kittle's way. Additionally, WTF is with our players flipping balls into the air? Are they coached to position their hands at a ramped upward angle or something? We must absolutely load up on talent at this position in the off-season if we want any QB to thrive going forward.

Lack of Pass Rush Talent

Buckner and Watson combined for our only sack of the game yesterday. Those two are our highest sacks-per-game production guys so far this year. Everyone else disappears every other game. Seeing our other ends rush 10 yards upfield and get planted in the dirt, totally taken out of the play, was embarrassing. What kind of pass rush plan was that? Eli could've ran for 15 yards either direction without getting touched if he wanted to. Marsh had some pressures here and there, but for some reason we decided to double Barkley with him and Smith in coverage. Pathetic that we could do a zero blitz and still not even get close to touching Eli. Utter embarrassment again. DE is another position we must heavily load up on in the coming off-season.

Linebacker Play
Warner is a fine player, that much is certain. But we have questions all around after that. Smith is supposed to be a good coverage linebacker. He made me miss Foster being out there. Smith is nowhere near as strong as Foster and that much was obvious when he offered no pressure on blitzes and was dragged for several yards after contact on multiple occasions. Nzeocha shouldn't even see the field if it's not on STs.

Ahkello Witherspoon
Ahkello, you do realize that you don't have to just put your hands on a player to get pass interference right? If you are continually contacting a receiver with ANY part of your body for nearly his entire route AND don't turn your head, THAT IS PASS INTERFERENCE. I thought we were done with this crap. Spoon was undoubtedly the biggest contributor to this loss more than anyone else last night. Horrible zone coverage allowing an absurd amount of space on the first TD, then burned on back to back plays later for an eventual touchdown, then the game-sealing PI that led to the Giants go-ahead score. Most sadly, he's probably our best option right now, too. Honestly, I hope we work Moore in some to see if he can take over because Spoon isn't cutting it right now.

Nick Mullens
The kid can play. Yes he had one pick on a ball he probably shouldn't have thrown, but you could argue both picks were just bad luck bounces. No excuses for Goodwin on that drop-turned-INT, even if the ball could've been placed better. Mullens may have average velocity, but at least we've seen he can get it deep. Just needs to work on that accuracy/timing/chemistry with guys. That will come with more reps, which he's had virtually none of before last week. Hopefully getting Pierre back will help because he seemed to find him well in his previous game. He should continue to start to get him experience until he's clearly hurting the team like Beathard was in terms of turnovers. While Mullens may not have had the best night, he got the ball out and avoided sacks and fumbles. Plain and simple I still think he gives us the best chance to win going forward.

Jimmy Garoppolo
I think we've seen first hand by now what a difference having a franchise QB makes. We likely wouldn't even be in position to lose some of these games if Jimmy had been healthy still. Reasonable to assume a slight improvement in QB perforance would have resulted in several more victories at this point.

Rushing Attack
Morris averaged roughly 2 YPC last night. That ain't gonna cut it. We missed Mostert badly and Dayes wasn't even used. What was the point in promoting him then? My guess is we won't add another runner in the off-season and will go into the year with McKinnon, Breida, and Mostert, which I think may be the fastest group in the NFL.

Close Games
Minus the Rams game, the 49ers are losing by an average margin of roughly 5.8 points per game. One score per game. Including the Rams game, the margin is 8.8, and I have to believe that has to be amongst the smallest margins in the NFL. Plain and simple, the finishers we say we lack all point the above positions we've discussed -- Franchise QB, Franchise WR, Franchise Pass Rusher. The first and the third on that list are the most important to their side of the ball having sustained success, particularly in close games. We have the money, we have some surplus players we could potentially trade for more draft resources. Lynch and company MUST do whatever it takes to address the need for pass rush and receiving weapons.

Conclusion
This season has been an immeasurable disappointment in so many ways. Losing Jimmy and McKinnon was one thing, but the blown leads in heartbreaking losses for a multitude of games has been tortuous. At this point, we have little to look forward to other than player development and the upcoming off-season. Like I said a moment ago, we should be position to add the key cogs we need to make our offense and defense work far better. We have some players we can trade off for more draft picks. We have plenty of cap room. It's up to Lynch and Shanahan to bring in a bevy of guys to make absolutely certain we go into 2019 with the talent AND depth to succeed regardless of what circumstances might occur.
[ Edited by OnTheClock on Nov 13, 2018 at 7:32 AM ]
Yup
Nice post.

I've been saying it for a while that a Julio Jones or ODB type of reciever takes this offense to another level. If we can get big leads it will only help the pass rush. Sadly there arent any good #1's available. I'd be all for a trade down and for us to grab one with a top 10 pick.

Thankfully this draft is loaded with pass rushers because we need 2. I'm hoping we sign one and draft one high. There are quite a few pass rushers available in free agency.

CB, FS, LB and SS are also huge needs. It's a shame Tartt and Foster cant stay healthy because they are difference makers when they are on the field.
Even if you get a top edge rusher next year, I have zero confidence that Saleh will coach him properly.

Maybe in year 4, Shanahan will make some changes at DC
Great read my man!
What a great post OTC...might be your best yet and that's saying a lot!

PS: May want to add one for coaching and development (OC, DC and ST).
[ Edited by NCommand on Nov 13, 2018 at 7:59 AM ]
  • Buchy
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Hard to disagree with this.

I think this season has shown that a number of picks from the Lynch/Shanahan first draft have not been the starters we had hoped. I think Thomas may be on a down season due to his personal life issues from his sister's suicide, but Witherspoon seems to have also regressed, along with Colbert and Taylor.

I don't blame the organisation for this, the draft is a crap shoot and the FO will have learned some lessons which I hope to see applied in the next draft but it's obvious that the rebuild is in full swing, we're a franchise trying to draft starters across the board more or less, and that will take time.

I think Beathard and Mullens have been good picks/signings in that a backup QB is valuable, and if we can fix our defense and add some play-making WR on offense then we can win games with one of them (likely Mullens).

In the 2019 draft we're going to be in a position to land a real difference maker at the edge and possibly at WR, but I would be looking to clean house of players we don't anticipate being part of the long term plan, such as Armstead.

2020 is probably the most likely season to see us mount a play-off challenge or run.
I'm so sick of losing....
Originally posted by SteveYoung:
Nice post.

I've been saying it for a while that a Julio Jones or ODB type of reciever takes this offense to another level. If we can get big leads it will only help the pass rush. Sadly there arent any good #1's available. I'd be all for a trade down and for us to grab one with a top 10 pick.

Thankfully this draft is loaded with pass rushers because we need 2. I'm hoping we sign one and draft one high. There are quite a few pass rushers available in free agency.

CB, FS, LB and SS are also huge needs. It's a shame Tartt and Foster cant stay healthy because they are difference makers when they are on the field.

I'd be all for a trade down. Nothing more dangerous than a good team with loads of draft picks for the future.

I definitely believe the top five needs are DE, WR, CB, OLB, and I think TE2. At safety, Ward actually has played fairly well. If the team isn't able to upgrade, he might be serviceable short term there next year if they want to keep him.
Nice OTC. Can't really argue with the write up, I'm neither happy to lose or enraged, I take solace from the fact we are still playing hard and that the games are watchable.

I don't actually think we need a franchise WR, a supplemental one around Garçon's previous level would do, and that might even be Pierre himself if he gets healthy.

Aside from that I just want to see Kittle and Brieda continue to ball out, keep playing close games, and count down the return of Jimmy.

Coaching is a beautiful thing. It's hard to watch our defense because I don't think they are coached well at all.
I cringe whenever I see Nzeocha on the field. Wearing 53 and playing like a fool.
Originally posted by NCommand:
What a great post OTC...might be your best yet and that's saying a lot!

PS: May want to add one for coaching and development (OC, DC and ST).

I was looking for this paragraph. Might need a penalties section as well.
Originally posted by NCommand:
What a great post OTC...might be your best yet and that's saying a lot!

PS: May want to add one for coaching and development (OC, DC and ST).

Hey thanks, my friend! I can't help but express my passion for the team. I see such potential. We are so far yet so close at the same time.

Personally, I see a chance for serious upgrades going into next year. I'd like to see wide scale turnover at the end and DT positions.

We should keep in the back of our minds the thought of trading some players sometime this coming season. Not necessarily before the draft, but certainly after once they've gotten a look.

I would be open to trading any of the followIng players at some point:
Solomon Thomas
Ronald Blair
Cassius Marsh
Arik Armstead
CJ Beathard
Earl Mitchell
Joshua Garnett
Trent Taylor
Pierre Garcon
Kendrick Bourne
Dante Pettis

I know it's unlikely we trade more than a couple of these guys, but we could definitely use the picks.

I honestly wouldn't even mind taking a DT in this draft if they're a disruptive style player like Fletcher CoX or Donald. I want the entire front four to be an unstoppable force.
Good post
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