Within hours of the final cuts having to be made, 49ers starting running back Jerick McKinnon tore his ACL, forcing him to miss the entire season. Losing McKinnon is a huge blow to the Niners offense. He was not only going to relied upon to run the ball, but also to be a huge part of the passing game — catching a good amount of passes out of the backfield. With this huge blow happening so close to the season, I thought now would be a good time to go over some concerns I had as the 2018-2019 NFL season kicks off.
- Losing Jimmy G-Cool
We’ve all seen it before — a promising team with plenty of potential loses their starting quarterback, and the backup comes in and well, plays just like a backup. Anyone who watched C.J. Beathard in the preseason probably told themselves the same thing I told myself on many occasions this preseason.
“Please Lord don’t let Jimmy G-Cool get hurt”.
Don’t get me wrong, I respect the hell out of C.J. Beathard from always getting up from the constant poundings he took last year. However, just because I respect the man does not mean I want to see him taking snaps under center for the Niners this year. If at any point (besides a blowout) we see C.J., it might be time to throw in the towel.
The Vikings defense was looking to feast during their week one matchup with the Niners, and man, there’s no way I could picture C.J. under center trying to evade elite pass-rushers and throw against a top-tier secondary.
- Sherman’s Achilles
Richard Sherman looked good in the very little we got to see him in the preseason, but that right there is the concern — we have seen very little of him. Against Indy, he played 32 snaps — 16 of which were passing snaps, and out of those 16 passing snaps, he was targeted only once (which resulted in a pass-breakup).In week one against the Vikings, however, Sherman was tied for the most snaps on defense with 71. Also, he only allowed one catch the entire day. It remains to be seen which Sherman we can expect to see each Sunday.
While we all know the Niners didn’t necessarily sign Richard Sherman to the All-Pro, shutdown corner we’re used to seeing him as. They signed him mostly for his veteran leadership. No one should expect to see the Sherman of the old — you know the one that hunted the nightmares of every 49ers Faithful, who was, and still should be public enemy #1 (sorry just because he has bonded with his teammates and said sorry doesn’t mean I’m simply going forget about him eating turkey on the SF 50-yard line on Thanksgiving).
The point is — no matter what anyone says, no one comes back from the type of injury he had the same as before, especially at his age. That’s not to say I don’t think he can be 75% of what he used to be, and let’s be real even 45% of what Sherman used to be is better than 100% of Dontae Johnson. The Niners have bet a lot on Sherman coming back strong this year, so if they’re wrong we could be in for a long season.
- Lack Of A Pass-Rush
The Niners lack of an elite pass-rusher has been well documented all off-season. Instead of drafting, signing, or trading for a big-name edge rusher this off-season (although John Lynch did confirm that the Niners did contact the Traiders about Khalil Mack), the team opted to hire Chris Kiffin as the team’s Pass-Rush Specialist to coach and enhance the players they already had. They Also traded for Los Angeles Chargers defensive-lineman Jeremiah Attaochu, but as we all know he didn’t end up making the final 53-man roster. The Niners will look to rush as a unit — meaning not depending on an individual elite pass-rusher, but instead on every player rushing together to help the unit as a whole get sacks. The Niners pass-rush must have more production this year, as 30 sacks will simply not cut it. Without a consistent pass-rush, in my opinion, the secondary will get shredded and it will lead to a year we all don’t even want to think about.
Kirk Cousins and the Vikings offense had just about all day to throw at certain times on Sunday. Even though DeForest Buckner racked up 2.5 sacks, the pressure was in no way consistent enough to knock Cousins off his game — hence, the final score. The Niners desperately need to find someone who is able to generate pressure off the edge consistently.
- The Youth On The Team
The Niners are a very, very young team. While that leads to a lot of hopes that they’re building something special that will be around for years, it also means they have a lot of players who have little-to-no experience. Having a young football team has many benefits to it, but the fact remains San Francisco simply doesn’t have enough players on the team that have “been there” and “done that” before to say the least.
On Sunday, WR Marquise Goodwin left the game early with a thigh-contusion, thrusting rookie Dante Pettis into significant playing time. While he certainly flashed some of his abilities that earned him a third-round draft spot, the fact that he was a rookie did show on the field. Also, second-year receiver Kendrick Bourne ran the wrong route, which resulted in Garoppolo’s pass being intercepted for a touchdown. I chalk it up to both of these players simply being inexperienced.
Does that mean the team is doomed? Well, in short, no. I feel like the Niners have just enough veterans on the team that things should go as planned, but if those veterans get hurt, the Niners could have a leadership problem on their hands, and inexperienced players playing significant snaps.
I have faith in these 49ers no matter what happens, and I do believe that they’ll have a great season, but these are just a few things I feel could derail the season.
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