We can all agree that last night’s San Francisco/Denver game did not go as planned for the 49ers. The offense way underperformed. The defense was completely out-Manned (pun intended), allowing Peyton Manning to get the touchdown record and then some. The 42-17 loss was a complete mess for a 49ers team that had been playing well and winning games since their 1-2 start. And C Daniel Kilgore suffered what is probably a season-ending ankle injury – arguably the most distressing part of the night. But, was the lopsided score and game really a surprise and should Niner fans be concerned for the second half of the season?
The answers are no and not necessarily. This team has been completely depleted at defense the entire season, and they have still managed to play extremely well and win games. But when you go up against Peyton and the Broncos, the weaknesses show and are hard to overcome. You gotta bring your A game to Mile High Stadium and that’s a tough order when a number of your A players are out due to injuries and a suspension.
It would be easy to blame Colin Kaepernick for the offensive woes of the game, but despite a terrible interception, it’s not all on him. It has been well documented that how goes the run game goes the 49ers. Last night’s worn-out offensive line made the running game non-existent, while dropped passes let Kaepernick down. San Jose Mercury News’s Cam Inman wrote, “What hurt the 49ers early were four passes getting dropped, including one by Anquan Boldin that would have resulted in a touchdown and 14-7 deficit.” Instead the 49ers ended up with a field goal, making the game 14-3. Kap threw for 263 yards so we know he can pass, and his mental game is getting better every week (despite last night’s team disaster).
So, all that being said, I’ve got a silver linings playbook. With a bye next week, the 49ers have work to do and some time to do it. The offensive line is also going to have to get it together. Joe Staley, Anthony Davis and the rest of the offensive line can take this time to figure out and correct their weaknesses – because Kaepernick cannot get sacked six times in a game and lead this team to the playoffs.
And most importantly, it gives the Niners some time to get healthy. Down the stretch, Navorro Bowman should be back from his horrific knee injury and Aldon Smith will be back from his suspension. They may be down but they are far from out. I for one plan to meet Peyton and the Broncos on neutral ground in Phoenix on Feb. 1 and show them just how tough the San Francisco 49ers are.