Well, Niners fans, your football team is in trouble, and life is about to get much more for difficult for the San Francisco 49ers.
“You’re either getting better or you’re getting worse and if we don’t get better, it’s going to be a long season,” said head coach Kyle Shanahan.
One season removed from playing in the Super Bowl, the 49ers are now 2-3, after being beaten, and badly, by the Miami Dolphins, 43-17.
The 49ers are 0-3 at home, which does not bode well for next week’s Sunday night visit from the Los Angeles Rams.
“There’s still a lot of season left, but there has to be a sense of urgency with everyone,” said quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Injuries are part of the problem, but it’s more than that and, if the 49ers don’t figure it out stat, it will be on to 2021.
“We’ve got to look at the film and see where we sucked, which was a lot of places,” tight end George Kittle said after the game.
Brian Allen, who was promoted from the practice squad Saturday, started at cornerback opposite Jason Verrett. Ahkello Witherspoon was active, but there was concern about his hamstring, so he was only to be used in case of emergency. In the final minutes of the second quarter, it became an emergency.
Allen allowed a total of six catches for 139 yards and a touchdown, while also committing two penalties. That was the emergency situation for which Witherspoon replaced him. It was a bad day for Allen.
The 49ers were without cornerbacks Richard Sherman (calf), Emmanuel Moseley (concussion) and nickel corner K’Waun Williams (knee) and it showed.
Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins’ offense picked apart the 49ers’ defense all day and Fitzpatrick finished his day 22-of-28 for 350 yards, three touchdowns and a rating of 154.5.
The 49ers Offense That Wasn’t
It was supposed to be a great day on offense. Garoppolo was back. Running back Raheem Mostert was back (he still had 90 yards on 11 carries so that was a positive). Add in Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk and it was supposed to be magic, and not the Fitzmagic kind. Instead, the 49ers offense was downright offensive.
“We’re missing a lot of guys on defense, and I thought this was an opportunity for our offense to take a step forward,” Kittle said. “…It’s on us as an offense to put points on the board and help our defense. And we just didn’t put them in any type of situation to succeed today.”
Garoppolo was benched for the second half in an effort to protect him from the ankle injury that kept him out the last two games. His first half stats were 7-of-17 for 77 yards, 0 touchdowns, two very unfortunate interceptions and a rating of 15.7.
“My confidence is fine,” Garoppolo said. “That doesn’t change anything. Everyone’s in a tough situation in the NFL. It’s no different for us. It’s just kind of is what it is and you’ve got to deal with it. You’ve got to come into work and just make the best of the situation that you’re given. That’s all you could really do. You can’t worry about things you can’t control and it starts with me. I’ve just got to play better.”
Even Joe Staley took to Twitter to ask, “What the hell is this??!”
What the hell is this??!
— Joe Staley (@jstaley74) October 11, 2020
Garoppolo was also sacked three times, as the offensive line continued to struggle.
“…I knew going into it, any time you have a high ankle sprain, that it can seem 100-percent better and you get out there and you do a couple things and it comes right back,” Shanahan said. “That’s something that is going to linger. By no means did it keep him from playing today, but I think it hurt him from being at his best and the way the rest of the offense was, the way the whole team was going today, I didn’t think it was good to keep him out there in the second half with that score and everything and that he wasn’t at his best. That’s why I made that decision.”
C.J. Beathard came in for Garoppolo and was 9-of-18 for 94 yards, a touchdown and a rating of 84. He was sacked twice.
49ers’ quarterbacks were sacked five times, for those of you scoring at home. Left tackle Trent Williams and right tackle Mike McGlinchey both allowed sacks. Williams also had a holding penalty and some sort of miscommunication with left guard Laken Tomlinson that resulted in a sack. Sigh.
“…I definitely expect those guys to do better,” Shanahan said. “I know we can help them with staying in some better situations, which doesn’t make it easy, but just as an offense as a whole, not just the O-Line, from the receivers to the quarterback to tight ends to running backs to every single coach. I’m just very disappointed today.”
So Now What?
“There’s no magical thing that you can say when you play like that,” Shanahan said. “I just try to hold us all accountable. Know it starts with me. I know we went into a tough situation defensively, with just some of the guys that we were missing. So, I knew that’d be a challenge going into the game. But regardless, when you go in with that situation, you play the way we did on offense, you turn the ball over three times, you get stopped on two fourth downs, so it’s basically five turnovers to me and you don’t play clean football, I don’t care who you play, whether you’re healthy or hurt, it really doesn’t matter. When you do a play like that, that’s usually going to be the result and there’s only one way to fix that. There’s nothing to talk about. That’s called getting better. I think there’s a lot of aspects of our game that obviously we can get better at and I’ve got to make sure I put our guys through that and find a way to do it.”
The 49ers are at a breaking point, and it’s going to take every member of the team to get them past it.
“Obviously, everybody’s upset, just the fact we got embarrassed at home the way we did,” said linebacker Fred Warner. “…I talk about it every week. There’s got to be a sense of urgency…We can talk about it all we want, but you’ve got to take a look in the mirror and see what you can do to improve. All I can control is what I can control on this team…”
The #49ers may want to wake up before their season becomes a total nightmare.
— Tracy Sandler (@49ersfangirl) October 11, 2020
Warner said later that “something has got to change.”
The 49ers next five games are against the aforementioned Rams, the New England Patriots, the Seattle Seahawks, the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints. It’s going to be a tough stretch, and if they want to be competitive, the 49ers have to get to the bottom of what’s broken and fix it.
“…There’s still so much fight in this team,” fullback Kyle Juszczyk said. “There’s still so much energy. There’s still so much tenacity on the sideline and so much belief…”
Good. Because they’re going to need all of it. On to LA.