The San Francisco 49ers took one on the chin Sunday evening, dropping an ugly 42-17 loss to the Denver Broncos. Anytime you get beaten like that, there is a certain level of embarrassment. And yet, I'm not wildly concerned about this specific result. I'm not happy with it, and the loss of Daniel Kilgore really sucks, but in the bigger picture, this is not a loss to get worked up over.
Let's get the bad news out of the way first. The 49ers lost Daniel Kilgore to what is believed to be a fracture of what Jim Harbaugh said was the upper ankle. This will likely end Kilgore's season. It is possible x-rays will reveal something less, but I'm not holding my breath on that. Losing any player sucks, but Kilgore was playing some really solid ball since taking over the center position for Jonathan Goodwin.
The 49ers drafted USC center Marcus Martin as a potential center of the future, and so he will likely get a shot to slot right in, but even if he turns out solid this season, losing Kilgore is a blow to the team's depth. The next two weeks will be incredibly important to get the center position solidified heading into the second half of the season.
The 49ers also lost cornerback Chris Cook to a hamstring injury. We'll have to wait and see how extensive an injury it is, but this is a unit that has a chance to get significantly healthy over the bye week. If they can get Brock and Culliver back at or near 100 percent, and get Jimmie Ward close as well, they can get past the Cook injury.
Beyond the injuries, the only thing that bothered me about the game was seeing Colin Kaepernick on the field for most of the fourth quarter. The game was out of hand at that point, and he was playing behind a patch work offensive line. I get the idea of competing to the end, but why risk injury to your franchise quarterback?
Speaking of which, Kap got off to a strong start in the first half, before an early third quarter interception seemed to sink the offense. It was not an ideal performance, but considering they could not get much of a running game going, and they were in passing mode the entire second half, I'm just not that concerned.
The secondary got shredded, due to their own struggles, and the lack of a significant pass rush. The only concerning thing from the secondary's performance is that even Perrish Cox struggled against bigger, physical receivers. Demaryius Thomas is one of the best wide receivers he will face, and he was easily able to leverage Cox on one of the touchdowns. But even that is just not that concerning. The 49ers will eventually get back Aldon Smith, and that pass rush is going to improve. A healthier secondary isn't going to get taller or more physical all of a sudden, but a better secondary means they might not have to spend as much time in coverage. Cox could certainly regress, but the 49ers will hopefully have more depth around him if needed.
It stinks to lose, but I just can't get too worked up over this one. Injuries are going to happen, and the 49ers very well will probably have to deal with other injuries moving forward. Nonetheless, they could potentially welcome back LG Mike Iupati, ILBs NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis, CBs Jimmie Ward and Chris Culliver, DT Glenn Dorsey, and get Tramaine Brock closer to 100 percent (health-wise, and rust-wise).
Some will look at this as making excuses for last night, but I just view it as stating facts. The 49ers got their butts kicked, and the 49ers will welcome back significant pieces of their team. Those are the facts. Jim Harbaugh will generally not engage in hypotheticals, but I'm willing to in light of the specific circumstances surrounding last night's game.
The 49ers will spend the next two weeks getting a little healthier, and we will get closer to getting important pieces back. It was embarrassing to lose on national television, but it is far from the end of the world.