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3 things we learned in the 49ers loss to the Chiefs (and 2 things I still think about)

Poor tackling, glimpses of what they could be, and awful officiating. Let’s look at what we learned from the 49ers disastrous game against the Chiefs.

What a somber, somber day. The 49ers were in what looked like an awful game that turned into a fun game at the half. Now, we may as well just get the black clothes out. The 38-27 loss hurts all the more due to the Jimmy Garoppolo injury. Three games in and the 49ers season may have taken a devastating hit. The Jerick McKinnon injury hurt, the Garoppolo injury could be downright crippling.

Regardless, for almost four quarters we had a fun football game until that injury. Here are three things we learned and two things I still think about.

Matt Breida is no joke

117 yards from scrimmage. 90 yards rushing, 27 yards passing. It’s safe to say Breida is going to have a nice role in the 49ers offense for years to come. There were some concerns he may cool off in the third game, but Breida continues to impress as a running back. Alfred Morris still had the lion’s share of carries (14 to Breida’s 10), but he also only got 67 yards on those carries. Morris does have a touchdown to his credit, but Breida is becoming the more explosive back. It’s a shame that we can’t see what would have been with McKinnon (and possibly Garoppolo) through the entire season.

The 49ers defense has severe tackling issues

The defense’s consistency in not being able to wrap up continued into Week 3 and it’s getting more frustrating by the whiff. The number of times a 3rd down conversion was made because the 49ers couldn’t get their hands on the ball carrier are far more than any defense would want. There were times you’d think the play would be over, only for the 49ers defender to crash on the ground with a fistful of air.

Robert Saleh said last week that things need to get better. The question is how much patience can fans have as they rectify the issue. Given that the tides have turned for the 49ers with their numerous injuries, they may have some time to

The 49ers have the tools to go up against the best in the NFL, if they can just execute

The 49ers went from being outplayed against the Chiefs in the first half, to nipping at the Chiefs’ heels and on the verge to get back into things in the second half. Both halves were plagued by penalties and lack of execution (the George Kittle drop to start the day was a great summary of the game), but the 49ers were outplaying the Chiefs (only one field goal makes up the Chiefs’ scoring summary for the third and fourth quarters).

The point is, the 49ers can hang in there—if they can play smart and disciplined. I said they could win this game if they played perfect football and what was on the field was far from it—but also a display that the 49ers are not a bad team like so many prior iterations fans have been subjected to. They are a young, albeit undisciplined team. They have the tools they need to go far in this league. Or at least they did.

And of course, two things I still think about:

What is up with the officiating?

Make no mistake, the 49ers were not “screwed” out of this game, but that doesn’t erase the awful officiating. A phantom defensive pass interference call in the first half and a even more egregious phantom offensive PI in the second. The 49ers had 147 yards of penalties called. Winning football games is hard with that number and it doesn’t help when bizarre spot fouls are called along with it.

I’ve said several times I’d prefer the NFL to do away with TV timeouts and instead implement review timeouts where officials are encouraged to review penalties, plays etc while the NFL gets those commercials aired. You could have a shorter commercial break of 2.5 minutes and have it happen frequently so the officiating crew can look over everything. This gets the commercials plugged, the officials can check their work, people are held accountable and everybody wins.

But no, instead we’ll just stop the game for eight minutes to see Toyota troll us three consecutive times while everyone stands around waiting for commercials to end. Wouldn’t it be more productive if that time was a timeout called because the officials want to review what they did?

So, what happens to the 49ers’ SNF games against the Rams and Seahawks?

If Garoppolo has the torn ACL we all fear he has, the 49ers offense takes a huge hit. C.J. Beathard will be the new signal caller and it’s fair to say he’s not as dynamic as Garoppolo. There might be more losses as a result.

The 49ers might be boring.

The NFL can start flexing games in Week 5, but only Sunday Night Football can be moved out of its slot. Thursday Night Football and Monday Night Football cannot be flexed, so the 49ers two MNF games against the Packers and Giants and the TNF game against the Raiders will remain in place. But what about the SNF contests against the Rams and Seahawks?

The budding rivalry between SF and LA has been temporarily short-circuited without Jimmy Garoppolo. Of course, last season Brian Hoyer engaged the Rams in a TNF shootout, so the NFL might be comfortable keeping the matchup in place.

The Seahawks game later in the year will be one to watch for flexing. If Richard Sherman’s injury is anything significant, that doubles the chance they move the 49ers out of prime time for the latter. The whole reason that game was being played up was because Sherman would be returning to Century Link Field. Kind of defeats the purpose if he’s on IR.

The one year we get all those prime time games and we may not get to see them all.

But that’s the least of our concerns. Let’s see how the injuries pan out.