Well Faithful, the 49ers lost another close one last Sunday. However for the first time this season, I turned off my TV after the game with a slight sense of satisfaction and even some hope for the future. So naturally there was only one thing to do – overreact.

 

This is the overreaction piece following the 49ers best game of the year, and in it I will address what the team looked like in this game, what that could mean for the rest of the season, what that could mean for the draft, and I’ll even go as far as what that means for the future of this troubled franchise. It’s important to keep in mind this piece is labeled an overreaction for a reason. I am making these predictions and assumptions based on what I saw in one game and what I anticipate to happen as the team continues to grow.

 

Let’s start with the defense.


DB

The 49ers secondary had easily their best game of the young season. I remember many plays where WAS QB Kirk Cousins had nowhere to go with the ball because the coverage was superb. SF’s #1 corner, Rashard Robinson, had his best game as well. Robinson has been struggling immensely this season. The second year corner had a breakout rookie season, so naturally we all had high expectations entering his sophomore campaign. Robinson played good coverage in this game, no blown coverages and it seems like he may be on his way back to a true CB1.

Rookie Ahkello Witherspoon seemed to be coming into that #2 corner slot and had a decent game as well. However, his most noticeable play was one in which he blew coverage. He then gave up on the play and fellow rookie Solomon Thomas came all the way up from the defensive-line to make the tackle. Witherspoon has been knocked for lack of size and heart. He already seems to have put on weight, but that hasn’t changed his heart. After watching him give up on the play it gives me pause.

CB Dontae Johnson was beginning to take somewhat of a backseat to Witherspoon, but Johnson played a good game as well. He had the clutch pass breakup in the end zone. Other players like Asa Jackson and K’Wuan Williams have shown potential and serve as good depth. S Eric Reid had a massively disappointing first game back where he didn’t have a single tackle. S Jimmie Ward had an average game, minus a fumble recovery, but overall nothing truly special, still good in coverage. S Jaquaski Tartt had an injury which briefly caused him to exit the game, prior to that he was playing really well.

 

What does this mean for this season?

As this young secondary come into it’s own, it could be promising. Once the whole defense is healthy and in place, they can start running the defense first-year DC Saleh intended for this team. The 49ers pass defense should begin to get better as the season progresses.

What does this mean for the draft?

Unfortunately, there are a lot of questions with this secondary, especially after this year. Questions like: Who is on the trade block? Can they all stay healthy? These are all things GM John Lynch needs to decide before the draft, because a corner or safety could be a good find in the second or third round.

What does this mean for the future of the franchise?

I don’t believe any of the corners on this team are that lights-out, franchise corner. We don’t have an Xavier Rhodes, Patrick Peterson, or Marcus Peters. As far as the future of the franchise goes, these aren’t the guys that will your MVP. Eric Reid has shown the most potential to be a franchise face, but with health concerns every year, he may not be around forever.


LB

The linebacker spot has been tough on the 49ers roster for a while, and although SF has taken vast leaps from the Bellore-era last season, it is still struggling. Injury is and always has been the problem here. After a surprising release of NaVorro Bowman, it left SF a bit weak at MLB. Bowman wasn’t making the plays either, but with Malcom Smith on I.R. and Reuben Foster still nursing an injury, Brock Coyle was thrust out there alone. It goes without saying that Brock Coyle is not a starting caliber linebacker. Sure, he is a solid backup, but is only good for a few plays. That was proven as the dink and dunk passes tore him apart.

Ray-Ray Armstrong also struggled with injury in this game. I was high on Armstrong this year and he has been competent for the most part. His coverage in particular is impressive, but his biggest problem is missed tackles. Eli Harold has been hit or miss, but with nine tackles he was all over the place Sunday.

Rookie Reuben Foster did not make it back last week but we remain hopeful for his return. I get a lot of flak for my love of Foster. I know we only saw one quarter of play. However, that was more than enough for me to see the kind of difference maker he is. Reuben Foster has the special ability to make an entire team rally around him and play better. When Foster returns, this defense will become a competitive force once again

 

What does this mean for this season?

Keep Foster out until he is healthy for sure. The 49ers aren’t competing for anything major, and his health is obviously much more important. But when the beats is healthy and ready to be unleashed you will see a completely different 49ers defense for the rest of the season. Other than that, there really isn’t much to say about this core, and to be honest, there isn’t much likeliness for change here. I see the potential of Dekoda Watson taking Eli Harold’s spot once healthy, but that’s about it.

What does this mean for the draft?

WE NEED A PASS RUSHER! With a defensive-line stacked up with run stoppers, we need to get our Von Miller that can keep a quarterback scared for his life. I think this could be SF’s first-round draft pick, if the right guy is available. Even if this guy has to move to the line and play LEO, we need pressure like yesterday.

What does this mean for the future of the franchise?

Reuben Foster is a franchise player that can/will be the face of an organization. He will be the defensive leader and cornerstone of this defense for years to come, trust me.


DL

Now to the trenches – at first glance of the defensive-line, all I see is disappointment. Just because PFF says DeForest Buckner is one of the best at pressuring the quarterback, doesn’t mean it shows on the field. However after I looked at it, what is there to be disappointed in? This is a line full of run stoppers that held WAS RB Chris Thompson to 33 yards as the Redskins leading rusher of the game. This is no out for the defensive-line, as surely there is no excuse for not getting to the quarterback with three first-round picks on the line. Armstead went down early with a hand injury and was missing for the rest of the game. Prior to that, Arik seemed to be on the way to a good game.

What does this mean for this season?

This defensive-line could keep the run game to a minimum, against even the most competitive backs when they are all together. With challenges such as Zeke, Fournette, Jordan Howard, and Todd Gurley in the future they will definitely be tested. Armstead is out for a few weeks now and we will need someone to step up there.

What does this mean for the draft?

Basically what I just said for linebacker. WE NEED A PASS RUSHER! I know it’s getting to be a laughing matter for taking a defensive lineman every year, but a good pass rusher changes this whole defense and makes the system Saleh put in place work how it is really supposed to.

What does this mean for the future of the franchise?

Armstead, Buckner, and even Thomas have been good up front. I don’t want to see any of these guys go anywhere, they are young talented players that can be franchise players.

 

Now to the offense, time to really overreact.


OL

The offensive-line has vastly improved since week one, and to be frank with you, I hope I never have to see Zane Beadles play again. Joe Staley seems to be showing his age as he struggled against the Redskins. Laken Tomlinson seems to have been a solid fit along with an improving Daniel Kilgore. The real star of this line has been Trent Brown. After receiving compliments from the best pass rusher in the game of football, Trent Brown is proving to be the real deal. He has the potential to be the cornerstone of the offensive line once Joe Staley retires.

 

What does this mean for this season?

The 49ers offensive-line will see a flurry of elite defensive players as the season continues. Fletcher Cox, Aaron Donald, Leonard Floyd, and Calias Campbell are just a few to headline this list. They will have a challenge ahead of them for the rest of the season, but the line has looked pretty strong ever since week two. Does that mean they are up for the job? Maybe, as in the last meeting with Aaron Donald they were able to keep his impact to a minimum, but can they repeat that?

What does this mean for the draft?

Assuming the 49ers have an early draft pick, I have the unpopular opinion not to draft offensive-line with that first-round pick. If the opportunity came up to trade back into the first round for a guy we like then I am all for it. If Joshua Garnett is available to come back from injury and be the offensive guard he was supposed to be (I’m not so optimistic on that front), then we could get an elite offensive tackle.

What does this mean for the future of the franchise?

With our franchise offensive tackle on the back end of his career, the 49ers really need to make improvements. If you remember, the last 49ers team to make a Super Bowl run had an absolutely stellar offensive line. That is the key to an elite offense, give your skill guys room to make plays and watch magic happen.


 RB

For our running back position, I don’t even count this as an overreaction. Everything I say here, I believe already. Carlos Hyde is a franchise running back and he should be our franchise running back. I don’t believe rookie Matt Breida has the potential to be a franchise running back. Breida has one specific role – he fills holes and he will be great at it soon enough. Matt Breida = Tevin Coleman. It’s that simple, he is nothing more than a second-string running back that becomes a huge playmaker in Kyle Shanahan’s system. But the real RB 1 is Devonta Freeman, aka Carlos Hyde. Neither Hyde nor Breida seem to be getting the amount of play calls or the types of play calls that they need to perform their best.

What does this mean for this season?

I would like to think Kyle decides to start running the ball more and more importantly, giving the right calls at the right times. When he does, the run game flourishes and it makes everything else flow better too. There’s no stellar run-stopping defenses in SF’s future, so I would love to see the 49ers get the run game as an important piece of our offense.

What does this mean for the draft?

Who wouldn’t want a Saquon Barkley, or any game-changing individual for that matter? He seems like the most exciting player to aim for in this upcoming draft. However, I think the odds of that happening are slim. Kyle’s offense has always been powerful with late-round running backs. Now, of course I would love to see the potential of Barkley in Red and Gold, but unfortunately there may be bigger holes to fill that will make this team better in the long run. If the 49ers decide to let Carlos Hyde walk in free agency then yes, Saquon Barkley would be a great grab.

What does this mean for the future of the franchise?

The possibility that the future of this franchise is already a part of this team is high. With Carlos Hyde and Matt Breida, Kyle has a crew that he likes and can make things happen for years to come. Let’s not forget about red-shirt rusher Joe Williams. Williams was my favorite running back brought in after this draft because of his ceiling. With a quick burst and some solid trucking abilities, Williams has the potential to be a great back. He has a lot to overcome though, as he gets a lot of slack for not holding onto the ball and missing some holes. He better be working hard in training to fix those flaws. If he can pull it together, that is a deadly trio that can be the next great backfield.


TE

For the tight ends, we have seen two different sides all year. The first is clutch George Kittle that makes the catches on crucial third-downs. The other is the ghost of Vance McDonald that makes everyone drop their passes. Logan Paulsen and George Kittle have had some key drops this season. You can give a little slack to Kittle for being a rookie, but he needs to get that together quickly if he wants to keep his job in the NFL.

What does this mean for this season?

Starting tight end George Kittle is from the same college as new starting quarterback CJ Beathard. The two should already have an established connection which will make Kittle’s performance increase.

What does this mean for the draft?

I don’t expect this to be a spot the 49ers target in the draft. As long as Kittle shows growth throughout the season, it appears SF has a capable tight end.

What does this mean for the future of the franchise?

Like I said, with continued improvement Kittle could be the face of the franchise for years to come.


WR

As for the wide receivers, they for the most part have been an extreme disappointment. Goodwin was praised for his speed, but we soon found that he lacked the hands necessary to be a top level receiver. Aldrick Robinson is another with good route running and speed but not always the ability to come down with the ball. On a positive note Pierre Garçon has been everything we could have wanted and more. This guy has incredible hands and proves it every game. Another stud at the wide receiver position is rookie Trent Taylor ,and he has already earned a job as one of the starting three.

What does this mean for this season?

It means we’re in for a lot of challenges this season with only two players that can consistently catch the ball. If we want to win any games this season we will need the help of our receivers. I hope as the team grows in chemistry and the new quarterback makes his changes we can begin completing passes.

What does this mean for the draft?

We need a franchise wide receiver, bad. Pierre Garcon is an incredible player but he will only be around for so long. We will need our guy sooner or later. Whether that comes through a big free agent or the draft.

What does this mean for the future of the franchise?

I’ll pretty much repeat myself here without a franchise receiver this team can only go so far. You need the guy that you go to in the end zone to win the game. However the 49ers plan on getting that guy, is up to Kyle and John. However, they know that is a huge step in the future of this franchise.


QB

And finally the biggest one – we saw our first regular season stint of rookie quarterback, CJ Beathard. He had a pretty good game for a rookie’s first, but he also had plenty of mistakes as well.  For overreaction purposes, I want to say CJ Beathard is the future of the 49ers. He moves in the pocket much better than Hoyer and from instances I saw there were less completely off the mark passes. The attributes I see in Beathard are ones that fit very well with Kyle’s system. Kyle wants a QB that can stay in the pocket and make a pass but will run for it if they need to. We saw Beathard begin the learning process by waiting in the pocket a little too long and getting hit. This is where he showed my favorite attribute so far, the ability to learn from mistakes. After that he wasn’t letting anyone get to him again. So much so, he began to not take enough time. Through a week of practice with starting reps you can imagine he is closer to finding the perfect in between. But what we were tired of with Hoyer is watching the same mistakes over and over again. CJ Beathard has already proven to me that he won’t let the same mistakes haunt him continuously.

 

What does this mean for this season?

I believe with Beathard in, we stand a chance at winning games this season. He gives us the best opportunity to win as a team. That being said he needs the team’s help as well. If he wants to prove he is the guy he will have to play good this season

What does this mean for the draft?

If Beathard can prove to be a true franchise-quarterback in the remaining games of the season, there is really no need for the 49ers to use that early pick on a quarterback. Beathard can be the guy and we can use this draft to build around him. I love Rosen, he’s my favorite QB in this draft and I believe he is some team’s answer. But if Beathard can prove himself worthy, then we will already have our future. As the season progresses, opinions may change but as of now CJ Beathard is our Quarterback.

What does this mean for the future of the franchise?

CJ Beathard has the ability to be a franchise-quarterback. The biggest knock on Beathard has been a lack of arm strength. However, so far I have seen no glaring problems with it. With Beathard at the helm and an improved team around him, this team can develop into a real force to be reckoned with for years to come. Beathard could be our leader on the Quest for Six.