The last four weeks of 49ers football have been a sight to behold. The highs, although few and far between, have been high - and the lows have been staggeringly low. The team currently sits at 0-5, on the wings of two overtime losses and four straight losses by three or less points. Despite the general ineptitude displayed by the team (as a whole), we have seen flashes of Eli-Manning-in-the-fourth-quarter efforts; just enough to give us hope that Kyle Shanahan’s new project isn’t a total failure, but not enough to seal our first W. Recently, I’ve been waxing poetic about the 2018 offseason articles about regression to the mean - they always point to games decided by 7 or less, and boy howdy, have we got those in droves.
As always, let’s start with the bad. The offensive line continued their streak of being frustratingly unreliable. The pass protection was alright, although the Colts aren’t exactly world beaters in the pass rush department. However, the woes in run blocking continued, and led to a 3.0 yard per carry, 66 yard team effort that required Brian Hoyer to throw 46 times. Arik Armstead played poorly, failing to contain the run on numerous occasions, allowing Marlon Mack to put up video game numbers. The secondary was generally bad, exacerbated by injuries to effectively the entire CB corps. Rashard Robinson is quickly earning my ire, as a player who can be consistently exploited, but parties like it’s 1699 every time an opposing WR drops a gimme.
The good, as has become the norm for this season, can be seen as largely cherry-picked positives from a sea of frustration. As a whole, the defense built on their success in getting to the quarterback, registering 12 hits on the QB and 4 sacks, after a 16 and 6 effort, respectively, against the Cardinals in week 4. One of my favorite moments from the game was Jaquiski Tartt exploiting a rare miscue in pass-pro from Frank Gore, and finding his way to Jacoby Brissett in the backfield. Other than that, Matt Breida looked serviceable in relief of Carlos Hyde, Hoyer the Destroyer put together two impressive drives (specifically the first drive, in which he went 7 for 8), and George Kittle showed up in a big way on the final drive of regulation, capping an impressive 14 play campaign with his first NFL touchdown to tie the game at 23 with twenty seconds remaining.
Finally, the big news of the day belongs to former 49er great Frank Gore. On a 9-yard run early in the game, he passed Eric Dickerson on the all-time rushing yard leaderboard for sole possession of the number 7 spot. Despite a different number and a different uniform, it just feels right to me to root him on as he climbs through the annals of history.
On to the good stuff-
Kyle Shanahan’s rebuilding process | Kurtenbach, Mercury
49ers second team in NFL history to lose 4 straight games by 3 or less | Biderman, Ninerswire