Well, well, well. What do you know? Four games in and the San Francisco 49ers have won all four. Yes, undefeated! Let that sink in! I almost don’t know how to feel faithful. A few things continuously play in my head. For one, of course the fact the 49ers are undefeated. Secondly, in four games they’ve already matched their win total from last year! Chew on that for a minute. Last season, San Francisco won just four games, this season; they’ve won their first four games. And please, by no means am I satisfied, complacent, or feel as if they’ve arrived. But I’ll tell you what — this feels much better than previous seasons and it definitely feels good to win again, especially as a San Francisco native. As I’m sure you’ve heard by now or were already aware: The 49ers haven’t been 4-0 since 1990. Fun fact: I was all of 12 years old at the time. That was a long time ago I know, and it’s been a long time coming. Let’s just keep getting better faithful.
Moving right along, let’s take this ride in the Silverado and discuss the 4-0 record, briefly review the 31-3 Monday night thrashing of the Browns, and the upcoming game vs the Rams we make our way down south to takeover Los Angeles Coliseum. Here’s a look at the highlights from Monday night.
Okay so as a good host, I want to either welcome you to, or welcome you back to the Silverado. Buckle up, its safety first around these parts. Not to mention, I’m sure neither one of us wants to hear the truck beeping at us for 10 minutes until you click in. Now, let’s hit this 101-S and be on our way.
As is stands, our 49ers sit atop the division and the conference at 4-0 and have played their best football in recent years. Plenty to be excited and prideful about, but also still plenty room for improvement, critics to silence, and respect to gain. All you hear is how is the terrible records of the teams they’ve beaten, or what key players were out, instead of how well the 49ers played. However, when you listen to them talk about the Patriots, they’re just about ready to hand them the Lombardi Trophy now! I’m pretty sure the teams they beat on over the past weeks didn’t have winning records (aside from Buffalo) either. I want the naysayers to keep that same energy and doubt though, because we’re coming! For now, let’s talk about and focus on what ingredients Head Coach Kyle Shanahan and General Manager John Lynch need to continue to improve, to cook up another win, especially after losing two of their ingredients, in fullback Kyle Juszczyk and offensive lineman Mike McGlinchey (via sfexaminer.com).
The Run Game (Despite Two Key Losses)
Thus far, the 49ers dominated their opponents with a lethal rushing attack, gashing defenses to a tune of 200 rushing yards a game, which is 1st in the NFL. (via nfl.com). Monday night, Matt Breida helped contribute to that and continued to impress as he finished the night with 114 yards on 11 carries. His longest on the night, was his 83-yard scamper, was the first play from scrimmage. That’s how you start a game! Breida truly embodied his “cheetah” nickname on the run. In the words of Mr. “Primetime” Deion Sanders himself, at this year’s combine, “That boy can run, run”. I mean, he hit that hole like he was running late to get home on time. Go back to your childhood for a moment. You remember when your mother told you to be home before dark, or else? Well yeah, he was in that type of hurry hitting the hole. Like he had about a blink of daylight left, and the streetlights were starting to flicker on! Tevin Coleman, in his first game back, also contributed in the run game finishing the day with 97 yards on 16 carries and 1 TD. Welcome back Teco! Raheem Mostert also showed up on the stat sheet with 34 yards on 7 carries, which is about 5 yards a carry.
With the Rams up next, missing two key pieces to their run game, and having to deal with names like the man himself Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers in on that Rams defensive line, the 49ers will have an uphill battle for them to continue this dominance in the run game. Well, get to climbing these hills fellas, because it can be done. Now look, don’t go putting words in my mouth telling folks Kev said the Rams are easy work, because that’s not what I said at all. Donald is the best at his position and can truly cause all kinds of problems, having an impact defending both the run and pass. Brockers is also someone to watch as he can make plays as well. Not to mention, Los Angeles has lost their last two games and are hungry and feeling embarrassed.
I’m actually looking forward to seeing how Kyle Shanahan schemes and how the offense executes said schemes with the losses of Juszcyk and McGlinchey. I’d like to think we see much more inside zone, traps, and counters leaning on the stellar play of the interior offensive line. This will also lead to and set up the outside-zone runs, stretch plays. and play-action, in hopes the defense still sells out on the (interior) run. I’m pretty sure coach has been like a mad scientist; hard at work trying to make adjustments to compensate for the aforementioned loses. Will we see more 11-personnel (1 RB, 1 TE), 12-personnel (1 RB 2 TE), 13-personnel (1 RB 3 TE), or even 22-personnel (2 RB 2 TE) with both Breida and Coleman (or any combination of two) in the backfield? Whatever he has up his sleeve, I’m all for it and here for it. A little food for thought, though both starting tackles are out, the interior of this offensive line, starting with center Weston Richburg has blocked very well too.
Richburg is healthy again and has been a key factor in the 49ers running game going to another level so far this season.
Adds another dimension with what he can do handling the shade himself, pull, get out in space, and track down defenders at all 3 levels. pic.twitter.com/Yeu5EjXU1v
— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) October 9, 2019
Honestly, I don’t care how they do it, but keep moving them chains!
Continue to Play (Stingy) Defense
This 49ers defense has only given up an average of 14.2 points a game (4th in the NFL) thus far and has been stellar defending the run (81.8 yards per game (2nd in the NFL) and defending the pass as well (175.8 yards per game (2nd in the NFL). In addition, they’ve yet to surrender a rushing touchdown or a 100-yard rusher this season. I for one would love to see this continue come Sunday vs the Rams, especially with star running back Todd Gurley doubtful dealing with a thigh injury (via ESPN.com).
In the event Gurley can’t go, the defense will have to be just as stingy defending Malcom Brown and rookie running back Darrell Henderson Jr. I’ll be the first to tell you, Gurley or not, both these guys get paid to run the ball and would love the opportunity to and are ready for the opportunity to put up video game numbers against this 49ers defense. Do you understand the motivation these two may have, knowing they get a chance to shine and against a defense has yet to give up a rushing touchdown or 100-yard rusher? To make matters worse, the team is on the verge of a three-game losing streak if they lose. That’s a whole lot of motivation faithful. So ah, yeah let’s not let that happen come Sunday. Take their motivation and hearts, and make them one dimensional! Please and thank you.
The pass-rush must also show up as hit has this season. It’s actually gotten better and better each week. So how about continuing that trend and, take another step forward. With their run game taking a blow with Gurley being doubtful, this would mean Jared Goff would have to shoulder the load. This means more passing attempts and more opportunities for this pass rush to feast. I’ll again remind you, this team is desperate and has play-makers who are desperate that can hurt you if Goff has time to find them. Gerald Everett and Cooper Kupp both went for over 100 yards vs the Seahawks — but that’s because he was given the time to do so.
Even though the Rams offensive line gave up pressures to Seattle, the defense didn’t generate nearly enough and recorded no sacks. The result, Goff had a good day and finished the day 29/49 395 yards, 1 TD, 1 int. I think you can see where I’m going with this. They say pressure busts pipes. Well, in this case let’s apply enough to busts all five of their pipes. That said, it’s time to play that game of “meet you at the quarterback” again. I fully expect the pass rush, led by Nick Bosa, Dee Ford (due for a coming out party), and the rest of these DAWGS up front and in the front 7 to feast facing this suspect Rams offensive line. They say numbers never lie right? Well, here’s a few for you, and they’re in the 49ers favor.
We told you last week that Nick Bosa led all edge defenders in pass rushing productivity at 14.0.
Sacks will come, but pressure is a better gauge of a pass-rusher's performance.
It's raining sacks tonight. #49ers
— PFF SF 49ers (@PFF_49ers) October 8, 2019
*CLEARS THROAT* Let’s go fellas, GO GET HIM!
More Jimmy G
The offense had its moments Monday, but mainly due to the running game. Don’t get me wrong, Jimmy was okay (20/29, 181 yards & 2 TDs), not great, but not bad either. And hey, he didn’t throw and interception, so that’s definitely a plus. He had a number of throws that were impressive, below is one of the less talked about.
— John Chapman (@JL_Chapman) October 11, 2019
As impressive as that pass was, moving forward as teams begin key in on the running game, loading the box (eight players at the line of scrimmage), he’ll need to continue to be better and evolve as a passer. And again, please don’t misconstrue this as any type of hate for Jimmy G. He’s definitely come a long way and in limited starts. However if this offense wants to truly be lethal, reach their true potential, and play in the post-season, he’ll have to get and play better each week.
Also consider this — the Rams may be determined to stop this number one-ranked run game. That said, can’t wait to see how Jimmy and Shanahan respond. With the run game doing so well, Jimmy is due for a big game. Say, 300+ yards passing, 3 or more TDs. With the Rams 3-4 defensive scheme, they would have to commit two of their four linebackers (or a linebacker and a safety) to have even numbers with the five offensive lineman. In order to send more than we can block with the five, they’d have to compromise the integrity of they’re coverage. This would play to our favor in terms of who’s open.
With threats like George Kittle, Ross Dwelley, Breida, Coleman, or Mostert, and receivers like Deebo Samuel and Kendrick Bourne that can break tackles after the catch and Goodwin and Pettis that can get behind the defensive backs, I’m excited to watch it play out. As I said, sending 5 (3 lineman and 2 LB’s) at least two guys are open. This should be interesting. Question is, does Shanahan show more 11, 12, or 13-personnel to tip the match-up scale and keep them in more pass ready sets on defense to counter the expected plan to shut down the run? This may turn out to be a great game. As I said, Jimmy is due for a breakout game. Not necessarily this week, but at some point in the season he’ll have to prove he can beat a team himself. If they’re plan is to stuff the run, Sunday would be an ideal time for a Jimmy G takeover. That’s not opinion, that’s fact. I got faith in you Jimmy, keep doing your thing. Let’s go!
If this team wants to begin to gain league wide respect, it starts with this first division game. It’s time to go in here, kick the door in, invade enemy territory, and demand respect. Once again, not an easy task, but very attainable. This 49ers team has the recipe for a championship. A great run game, great a great defense, a great team wide attitude/mentality, and they’ve gotten better every week. Despite dealing with some recent injuries, I feel this team still has what it takes to beat this vulnerable Rams team, extend their losing streak, and improve to 5-0. This is a very winnable game They just need to put it all together again Limit the mental mistakes, limit turnovers, run the ball, capitalize on turnovers, get after the quarterback, and they should come out victorious. These things don’t happen, it may be a long day and end with a loss. Take care of business Either way, it’s GO NINERS! Ah yes, I almost forgot. *CLEARS THROAT*
“ALL GAS, NO BRAKE!”