The San Francisco 49ers lost a tough one in Week 3, dropping Thursday Night Football to the Los Angeles Rams by a final score of 41-39. The team looked out of it a couple different times, but kept fighting back. They couldn’t close the deal late, but it was still a wildly entertaining game. Time to start seeing what we learned from it.
1. Brian Hoyer can fight back from adversity
At halftime, and even into the fourth quarter, I was not happy with how Brian Hoyer was playing. Nobody was. And yet, he didn’t give up. He helped lead the team back in a shootout, finishing the game with 332 yards. He had two touchdowns after the one atrocious interception, and also ran in a touchdown. Hoyer was inconsistent for much of the game, but I think we saw some notable steps forward in the fourth quarter. I don’t expect that consistently each week, but I think we all came into this with relatively low expectations for him. It was just nice to see some positive play from the 49ers quarterback.
2. The defense was gassed
People don’t want to hear excuses, but the 49ers defense getting gassed likely had something to do with the short week. The defense was already looking gassed late in the first half, even as the 49ers offense was spending more time on the field. I am really fascinated to see how this defense comes out the next couple of weeks.
3. The pass rush is inconsistent
A week after harassing Russell Wilson all day, the 49ers pass rush could muster next to nothing against Jared Goff. They got three hits on the quarterback, but Goff had a lot of time fairly regularly. The 49ers travel to face Arizona next week, and it will be critical to figure out a way to get more pressure on Carson Palmer.
4. Carlos Hyde is a beast
A hip injury cost him some time in the first half, but it was good to see Hyde get back out there and put together another physical performance. He finished the game with 84 yards on 25 carries, and while that is only 3.4 yards per carry, they were some critical yards. He got his first touchdown of the game, and was generally dragging this team kicking and screaming until Hoyer started getting in a rhythm.
5. Holy crap, Pierre Garçon is a machine out there
One of the 49ers most notable free agent additions finished the game with seven receptions for 142 yards. He had a great catch on the 59-yard long, but he also had the impressive toe-tapper catch. He was Brian Hoyer’s go-to guy as the 49ers attempted their comeback, getting targeted ten times in the passing game. He’s quite the able replacement for Anquan Boldin (well, a couple years removed).
6. The ten-day break could not come at a better time
The team lost Jaquiski Tartt, Brock Coyle, and Kyle Juszczyk to concussions, Tank Carradine to an ankle injury, and even lost Carlos Hyde briefly in the first half to a hip injury. Tartt is a big injury with Eric Reid out for at least a few weeks with a PCL injury. Lorenzo Jerome came on in place of Tartt, with Adrian Colbert serving as the backup. The concussion protocol requires players show no symptoms at rest, then after exertion, and then after a brief contact drill. The 49ers have some time, but it will be something to track.
7. Penalties remain a problem
I do think the 49ers got hosed on several plays, including George Kittle seemingly getting tackled in the end zone, and Trent Taylor getting called for OPI on that final drive. But ten penalties for 55 yards is something the 49ers can’t afford. The 49ers are not good enough to overcome too many self-inflicted wounds. I imagine some of this is due to the new offense, but there are plenty of mistakes that are just boneheaded mistakes,
8. Third down remains a problem
The Rams converted 8 of 12 third downs, while the 49ers converted 9 of 18. In all three games, the opposing offense has converted third downs at a significantly greater rate than the 49ers. It is part of the issue with this defense getting gassed, and is something they need to figure out soon.
9. This team has fight in them
After the stinker against the Carolina Panthers, the 49ers have put up considerable fight each of the past two games. Moral victories shouldn’t carry a ton of weight, but at this stage in the rebuilding process, it is good to see that kind of fight in the team. It will be a bigger test come December when they potentially are only playing for pride. But for this week, it was good to see this time fight back against adversity.