The San Francisco 49ers offensive line was a bit of a train wreck in Week 2. They did make some plays on occasion, but for the most part, it was an awful day for the group. Colin Kaepernick was sacked five times, and the ground game got nothing going, even before Carlos Hyde left the game.
The 49ers were intent on getting the ground game going early and often. They fed Hyde repeatedly, and he did find some initial success. But that closed down fairly quickly, as Steelers defenders were flying through gaps in the blocking with ease. The running backs finished the game with 60 yards on 23 carries. Considering the 49ers were down deep the entire second half, one would think they would get some garbage yards, but the Steelers had no trouble shutting down the run, even late.
In case you were wondering, the Steelers were prepared to shut down Hyde. After the game, Hyde said he had spoken with former Ohio State teammate Ryan Shazier, and Shazier made it very clear he was the focus:
"Ryan actually told me, ‘Yeah, we're going to lock in on you,'" Hyde said. "They did that. But you got to get used to that, though."
The 49ers needed to counter that with their pass game, but when the offensive line is playing as abysmally as it was on Sunday, it is not a simple task. Colin Kaepernick looked quite good when he got some time in the pocket. The problem is there were several instances where the line got blown up by the Steelers stunts and blitzes, and Kap had no more than a second upon snapping the ball. Kap can play out of his mind, and poor offensive line play is going to get in the way every time.
The question becomes, what next? The right side of the line had some success in Week 1, but was still the lesser of the two sides. Erik Pears was particularly abysmal, with three penalties on the day. I do not expect any changes to the group after two weeks, but the scrutiny will only grow heading into Week 3 against the Arizona Cardinals. I need to go back and see how the Cardinals did in pass rush this week. They got a pair of sacks, along with five hits on Jay Cutler and Jimmy Clausen (after Cutler left with an injury).
At this point, I'm left hoping for better performances, but skeptical about this unit. I don't know if they are as bad as this week or as good as last week, but we'll find out more context to it next week. Joe Staley and Alex Boone should be able to rebound better, but that right side of the line is not pretty. And right now, there do not seem to be a lot of options if the team decides to go in another direction. I wouldn't mind potentially seeing Trenton Brown get a shot sooner or later, but he and Ian Silberman still looked rough around the edges in the preseason. Brandon Thomas clearly did not show them enough, and Nick Easton is exclusively a center for now. And so, we wait.