The San Francisco 49ers were thumped by the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday Night Football, losing 20-3 in a game in which the offense got nothing going. The team had nine punts and eight first downs. They had eleven drives on the day, and eight of them were for single digit or negative yards. I would have excluded the two-play drive to close out the first half, but they actually tried to do something. Colin Kaepernick was sacked, and then they ran a handoff to Reggie Bush.
All in all, it was a horrific outing. Here are a couple tweets to add a little more context to how awful the 49ers were on Thursday:
Fewest 1st downs in a game this year 1.) Bears 7 vs SEA... 2.) 49ers 8 v. GB, 49ers 8 vs SEA... 3.) 49ers 10 vs ARI... Yikes, Kaepernick— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) October 23, 2015
WAIT: Russ got picked twice and sacked FIVE times? And the Niners lost 20-3? Guys, we need @NinersNation to talk us through this, MAN.— Tim Ryan (@TheSportsHernia) October 23, 2015
On Friday, Steve Berman had a great article over at BASG, in which he pointed to the cautious nature of the 49ers. His headline summed it up best: the 49ers are not just bad, they're overly cautious. I highly recommend giving the whole article a read.
The play-calling was awful, and once again we saw what happens when the 49ers fall behind early. They go into a shell and things get ugly. Their one good drive was the field goal drive that reportedly involved screwed-up radio communications between the coaches and Colin Kaepernick.
The punt late in the game was one example of the problems, but the 49ers roster and playing-time decisions only clarified the lack of any real aggressiveness. The team deactivated Jarryd Hayne, and gave Bruce Ellington two offensive snaps. There is only so much we can gain from Monday morning quarterbacking, but that still drives me crazy.
As BASG pointed out, and plenty already know, Jarryd Hayne is one of the truly dynamic athletes on this roster. Some of his preseason work came against a lot of backups, but he has a natural athleticism that you can't teach. Maybe there will be bumps in the road along the way, but considering how this season is going, Hayne should be getting as many reps as possible. I get there is a numbers game with activating players, but how Reggie Bush was returning punts boggles my mind.
As for Ellington? We've seen what he can do if you get the ball in his hands. I know the 49ers cannot run wide receiver screens constantly, but there are ways to get the ball in his hands. There are going to be concerns about if he can stay healthy, but when he is healthy, why not use him?
We only know so much about the decision-making going on, but things like this reflect further on a team that just does not seem all there this season. The talent questions remain, but when you don't fully use some of that talent in a logical manner, it just seems to add to the serious questions up and down the organization. And it's frustrating as all get out.