Ah yes, Nothing But Niners is yet again on the job bringing you fresh content with a little extra flavor. So go ahead and jump in the Silverado with me and let’s be on our way. This week, fresh off a win down in Tampa Bay, (say that again if you will) we make our way to the Midwest. If for some reason, you missed the game, I got you covered. Here is how it all went down last week in a road win vs the Bucs, and what a win it was. By chance if you’re a first time passenger, nice to meet you, I’m your host and driver, Silverado Kev. I’ll do my best to make your first (of many hopefully) ride memorable, enjoyable and worth talking about. If you’re a regular, you know the drill. Either way, I truly appreciate your company, attention, and trust in me. Let’s roll.
We continue our road trip this week, as we make our way to Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio to take on the 0-1 Cincinnati Bengals. For a quick recap of how just how Cincinnati fell to 0-1 losing, a close one 21-20 to Seattle, feel free to briefly look over this recap for a full breakdown of stats and who did what from that game. Now, let’s move onto what’s most important, our San Francisco 49ers and how they can improve their overall record and road record to 2-0 with a win Sunday and continue their winning streak. Last week was a great first taste of the gourmet meal head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have been cooking up in Santa Clara. As you know, I’m going to give it to you straight, so no need to worry about your sugar intake being too high, as I don’t sugarcoat anything.
The first meal was surprisingly good. A couple things to titivate here and there to enhance the taste/flavor, and quality of the meal, but overall I was pleased. Let’s now take a look at a few of the key ingredients and improvements needed to bless your pallet and taste buds with an even better dish.
This may surprise some, but hear me out before you tune me out. Aside from one standout, the secondary had an average showing last week. There were multiple missed tackles, and a few blown coverages. There was one play in particular that didn’t sit well with me at all. In the 3rd quarter, with 8:54 left, on their own 48-yard line, Jameis Winston had Evans butt naked (wide the hell open) down the left hash, as he split two defenders and ran through the zone on his way to what would’ve been an easy score. Luckily for us, Dee Ford and Nick Bosa (recorded his fist sack first NFL sack on the play) were both chasing Winton around like a game of two on one tag. This pressure forced him off his spot and denied him enough time to hit the unacceptably open Evans downfield. The aforementioned are tackling and coverage breakdown issues are very disturbing, but fixable. Thing is, if I noticed it, I’m sure the players and coaching staff did as well. So, let’s hope to get that cleaned up prior to this week 2 meeting with the Bengals.
This secondary will be facing an offense led by hot hand Andy Dalton, whom torched the Seattle Seahawks defense last week to a tune of 35/51, 418 yards, 2 touchdowns. With the absence of star wide receiver A.J. Green, (listed as out as he’s dealing with an ankle injury) speedy third-year wide receiver John Ross went straight nuts, finishing the day with 7 receptions,158 yards and two touchdowns. Also worth talking about, Tyler Boyd, C. J. Uzomah, and Tyler Eifert are threats with good size (Uzomah and Eifert are 6’6”) and can hurt you if given the opportunity. How about we not give Dalton the time to find these guys period, and if he does, keep it to minimal gains by putting hats on whoever catches a pass where they stand.
I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge two guys from week 1 that earned my title, “shy thief,” as both recorded interceptions for touchdowns. First up, the highly criticized and doubted (even by me), Ahkello Witherspoon — he showed up, and showed out! He let the dawg out, so to speak. Clearly he was tired of folks not putting any respect on his name. Well, he indeed hit my mute button, and as the stat sheet shows, he hit mute button of star wide receiver Mike Evans too. Evans was held to two catches for 28 yards on the day. (56.4 PFF grade) Well done Spoon. Next up, All Pro, veteran cornerback Richard Sherman, who in week 1 recorded his first interception as a 49er, and reservations for six (pick 6), as he returned the interception for a 31-yard touchdown. Ironically, he admitted he had an off day for the most part, as he was caught out of position on a few plays and was even flagged for a couple penalties. One of which was declined, as he gave up a touchdown on the play. Am I worried about Uncle Sherm? Not in the least. He even acknowledged he needs to be and will be better. Let’s do so, and shutdown Dalton, this offense, and prevent try and prevent Ross from being a fantasy God again.
Contrary to the running (false) narrative, I am not against quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Critical? Yes, as I am with all players on the team. Against? Of course not. In week 1 vs Tampa Bay, Jimmy had some plays that impressed me. On the day, Garoppolo finished 18/27, 166 yards, 1 (beautiful) touchdown to wide receiver Richie James Jr., and also had a very nice scamper for a first down in which he showed his surgically repaired knee is just fine. He also showed the awareness to feel/see the rush, step up in and out the pocket, avoid the rush, then take off for a would be first down and even slid to protect himself. Notice, I said would be, as that play too was negated by a holding penalty on Mike McGlinchey. I know he was trying to protect Jimmy, but man that hurt.
— Rob Lowder (@Rob_Lowder) September 8, 2019
Unfortunately though, he also had 1 (hard to watch) pick 6 to cornerback Vernon Hargraves. This was one of thee worst interceptions for a touchdown I’ve seen, but I know it happens and he’s still getting into his groove.
— 49ersHive (@49ersHive) September 14, 2019
Along with the rest of the offence, which seemed kind of stale and out of sync per se? In their defense, as previously mentioned, there were two touchdowns to tight end George Kittle that were called back (14 points off the board, settled for field goals, and momentum zapped) to due penalties, aka drive killers as we call them in the coaching world. Although both were entertaining plays, watching sheer disappointment and even disbelief shown by Kittle’s body language in reaction is a must see as well. I can’t make this up, he was visually (momentarily) disappointed his first touchdown of the season was called back. Kittle even joked about it in the presser following the game.
— Chris Biderman (@ChrisBiderman) September 9, 2019
I don’t know what measures are in place in an attempt to prevent these type of things from happening in games, but I know the coach I am would have my guys fearing to draw penalties in practice! Put it like this, they’d be in the best shape, I tell you that. As I always preach to my players, “It starts in practice, and we play how we practice!” So this week, can we please clean up these mental mistakes (penalties), and not gift the ball and points to the other team. Trust and believe, players like Cincinnati cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick is ready and willing to make a house call if given the opportunity. Yeah, so let’s not shoot ourselves in the foot with penalties or turn the ball over. This way, the offense (and Jimmy) can get and stay in a groove please? Thanks in advance.
The Offensive Line
For a unit that is normally very good in run-blocking, it looked more like a varsity offensive line manhandling the junior varsity offensive line for the most part in week 1. The offensive line rarely got any push. It was truly a daunting task to find any daylight, even in broad daylight for the 49ers running backs. Raheem Mostert (9 rushes 40 yards), Matt Breida (15 rushes 37 yards), and Tevin Coleman (6 rushes 23 yards) had a combined 100 yards rushing on the day. Though both Breida and Mostert ripped off a few chunk runs, it was a heavy dose of no gains all day. Definitely have to clean that up before Sunday.
Last week is behind us, but this week the 49ers face another tough battle in the trenches, with the likes of defensive tackle Geno Atkins and defensive end Carlos Dunlap on the Cincinnati defensive line. These two will need to be kept in check if this 49ers offense looks to have any success on the ground or through the air. Them of the day, block, entertain, sing to the man in front of you. Whatever you have to do to keep them out of the back field, do so. Let’s go hogs!
Somebody Not Named George Kittle
As big of a fan of Kittle (as I am), we, well Jimmy must to find a way to get the ball to other playmakers. Newsflash, we have those! I know, and get that Kittle is his guy (also Trent Taylor when healthy) and is a safety net/comfort zone for Jimmy, but he can’t only fall in love with Kittle. Don’t get me wrong, Kittle is a beast, a straight dawg and I want to see him eat too. Now this could be just me, but does seem like Jimmy is almost lost if he can’t find Kittle? I mean, he looks for Kittle when he’s not even in the game. Kittle can be on the sidelines and Jimmy is looking to get the ball to him.
We’re going to need Jimmy to be as generous spreading the ball around to our guys as he is to the other teams’ guys at times. I don’t know if he just doesn’t trust anyone else or what. But, please start to do so and give our other talented guys a chance. You see what happened when gave Richie James Jr. a chance. Let’s keep that going! Spread the ball around, keep the defense guessing. The Niners finally have weapons out there now, now please use them. Initially, I thought perhaps others weren’t getting open, not the case. Jimmy just has to take his time surveying the field, remain calm, find them, and get the ball to them. You got this Jimmy, let’s go!
This unit was 100 MPH out there last week weren’t they? Flying to the ball, filling gaps at the first (defensive line) and second (linebackers) levels, quarterback pressures, hurries, hits, forced fumbles (strip sack), and sacks. Not only did the pass-rush just about have Jameis Winston file a restraining order on the front-seven, Bosa got the left tackle for Tampa Bay fired. Smooth cost that poor guy his job. Moving right along. Just about everybody on the defensive line and the front-seven showed up on the stat sheet. As a DC myself, I almost can’t control excitement. Okay, okay, I’ll calm down.
Let’s jump to the week 2 match-up and what will be needed to stop this Cincinnati offense. What I’m looking for from this group in week 2, is to keep that same energy, keep getting better individually and together, stay violent, stay focused, stay healthy, and keep they foot on the gas! That “meet you at the quarterback” mentality must continue. Also keep in mind, the Cincinnati offensive line is dealing with its own injuries, as starting left tackle Cordy Glenn is out with a concussion.
The Bengals running back group has also been hit with injuries, as starting third year running back Joe Mixon has been dealing with an ankle injury. Mixon has big play ability and can burn you if given a crease, so he needs to be accounted for. Also look for shifty running back Giovani Bernard to get touches lightening the load on Mixon. Regardless of who is behind enemy lines, this front-seven needs to be in attack mode, and seek and destroy any ball carrier in the opposite color jersey. Oh, and welcome back Kwon Alexander! Pick up right where you left off. I’m looking forward to seeing you meet either of these running backs head on in the whole as you fill gaps the way you do.
Before You Go
Well, we’re about there so I’ll finish up so you can to continue your day, but take this with you on your way out. Clean up the penalties to avoid taking points off the board and stagnating drives, tighten up our coverage and tackling, do a better job up front on the offensive line to get the running game going, and put Jimmy in the best situation to light up the scoreboard and all should be well. Thanks again for riding. See you inside. Now you know what I need to hear before you go, so come with it. Say it with me, “ALL GAS, NO BRAKE!” LET’S GO NINERS!