Like many of you, I threw a fit at the end of that Thursday Night Football showing with the 49ers getting a clumsy call by a ref. It really wouldn’t have bothered me if it wasn’t for the fact you hear about how the refs AREN’T going to throw a flag for something like that at that point in the game (see Super Bowl 47), yet one of the most ticky-tack plays ever, the refs step in and hand the Los Angeles Rams the game on a silver platter.
I’ll go more into how that probably is the better outcome in the scheme of things later this weekend, but for now, I guess I’m looking at another silver lining. Something I didn’t see much of last season. Those of you familiar with this site and my thoughts on the 49ers know I was displeased with the coaching squads of both Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly, not for the fact the 49ers were losing—I knew that was coming with all the turnover following Jim Harbaugh’s departure—but how they were losing. Blowouts, horrible schemes, four quarters of consistent questionable playcalling; the 49ers were absolutely awful and it merited both coaches given the boot after one season. The team looked that bad.
The 49ers aren’t losing like that now. They got blown out by Carolina, but that’s Week 1, the 49ers blew out the Los Angeles Rams in Week One last year, how’d that season turn out? The 49ers have stayed in these games until the 4th quarter when some bizarre situation happens that derails the whole experience and I’m OK with that. The defense was gashed last night, a throwback to last season, but part of that is on the good play by Jarred Goff and an exhausted defense returning from Seattle (though I’d like a pass rush for Christmas). And it’s only Week 3, that’s one game. The defense was in the top 10 going into that. Progress.
And the offense? As hit-or-miss as it is, it’s a helluva lot better than that hurry-up, redundant shotgun formation scheme we saw last year. They had 39 points last night. One of the lower-tier rosters in football hung 39 points on one that’s talented. That’s impressive no matter what day it is. They were in it till the end, they have the hunger and the drive.
And Los Angeles, I know you want to party it up after Thursday night. That win had to feel awesome, but don’t ignore the elephant in the room: you struggled against the San Francisco 49ers. They are in rebuilding and you have a talented roster. You didn’t put the game away, you were biting nails until the officials handed you the ball despite the fact the 49ers were shooting themselves in the foot with turnovers your way all night. Jared Goff looked great...against the 49ers defense. The fact you had the 49ers and Brian Hoyer hanging 39 on you should be concerning. The 49ers gained way more last night than the Rams did. The way they lost is the way you want to see them lose. They got outplayed, made a few dumb mistakes, but had a sound scheme and strategy. They showed Shanahan’s system can work. You’re seeing them run around in unison and the coaching staff is putting them in positions to succeed. It works.
That game, along with Seattle told us an awful lot about what the San Francisco 49ers are—you can see the team they want to be and the team they can become if they keep working at it. Last year, it was a question of how much worse the team could get each game. Three games in and we’re seeing nothing but improvement. Hopefully that continues the full 16.
Now we just need to be patient. Here’s some links.
Kyle Shanahan on offensive pass interference: I saw a very good route (Pro Football Talk)
Offensive pass interference may be a sudden point of emphasis (Pro Football Talk)