The San Francisco 49ers were thumped by the Buffalo Bills in Week 6, losing 45-16 thanks to an atrocious second half of football. There were positives to the games, but mostly negatives. Here are a look at some winners and losers coming out of Week 6.
Colin Kaepernick: The 49ers QB did not have a great performance by any stretch of the imagination. But for his first significant regular season action in 11 months, it wasn’t too bad. He over-threw and under-threw his receivers on several notable plays, but he I would argue some of that could be rust more than anything else. That could be proven wrong in the coming weeks, but it at least gives me at least a little something to look forward to. And his running, particularly after breakdowns in the passing play, was a clear improvement over Blaine Gabbert.
Torrey Smith: Hey, look who’s still out there! Through five weeks, it felt like Smith was in the witness protection program. In Week 6, he had more targets than the previous three games combined. I don’t know how consistently Kaepernick will find him, but it seems like he could become more involved in the passing game.
Quinton Patton: One of Kaepernick’s best friends on the team, maybe Patton will also become more involved. He equaled Smith with seven targets.
Keith Reaser: The 49ers third cornerback got a boost in playing time after Rashard Robinson suffered a concussion. He looked fairly solid in his time on the outside, and likely will start this week if Robinson doesn’t clear the concussion protocol.
Run defense: We could point to specific players, with plenty of missed tackles, but the whole unit was awful. For every run where McCoy was held to just a couple yards, or even a loss, the 49ers would seemingly give up multiple double digit runs. When you give up a 22-yard run on a 3rd and 20, something is going horribly wrong.
Jim O’Neil: I liked the pressure he dialed up in the pass rush. The 49ers struggled closing the deal, but I thought the pressure was helpful in the first half. However, the continued struggles of the defense do not bode well for O’Neil. The run game issues go beyond just O’Neil, but someone is going to be the sacrificial lamb before the end of this season. There is no reason to think the run defense will improve, and if it keeps costing the 49ers games (and it cost them this game), O’Neil is probably going to end up getting fired.
Trent Baalke: The other side of the coin with the struggles is the lack of depth. The team looked like it had a pair of strong inside linebackers in NaVorro Bowman and Ray-Ray Armstrong. It lost both of them and the depth is looking pretty awful at ILB. That’s not all Baalke’s fault, but the team is not getting the kind of development it needs from its draft picks. Kyle Madson looked at the 49ers approximate value from 2010-2015 draft picks compared to some perennial contenders. The 49ers are nickel and diming things when they need to do some serious overhaul.
49ers offensive coaching staff: The team made no adjustments after halftime. Chip Kelly talked about it after the game, saying the run game was not turning in the performance the team expected. We’ve reached a pattern where the lack of halftime adjustments week in and week out are glaring.