During the middle of the week, we’ve been asking for your most unpopular opinions on Twitter. It’s no surprise that we get some doozies. It’s interesting how the paradigm shifts after a loss. This week, we saw plenty of responses showing concerns for the offense, Joe Staley, and calling for both Kyle Shanahan and Robert Saleh’s head. I narrowed the questions down to five. We’ve argued for and against each week. Today we’re going to mix it up and do both.
The 49ers will win the Super Bowl if Dee Ford is healthy and will not if he’s not. Ford means more to the team’s long-term success than Armstead.-Alex Sherman
Alex is onto something here with Ford, but I do not believe Ford means more to the 49er’s long-term success than Arik Armstead, who should have been a starter on this year’s Pro Bowl team. There’s no denying the 49ers are a different team with Ford on the field. Sometimes, the threat of something is greater than the impact. Ford frees up everyone else. He didn’t play often, so it seems like Ford didn’t have an impact. There wasn’t a game Ford played in this year when he didn’t get after the quarterback. The fact that he has seven 6.5 sacks on the season is impressive in itself. San Francisco’s odds of winning it all greatly improve with Ford on the field.
If Ford is the speed guy off the edge that frees up the rest of the starters on the defensive line, Armstead is the glue guy. If Ford isn’t around in the foreseeable future, his production can be replaced with a player like, say, Vic Beasley. Ford is a superior player, but you get what I’m trying to say. You aren’t going to find a guy that can do as much as Armstead can. He’s not the superstar free agent to be Von Miller is, but man Armstead can do it all and do it all at a high level. He blows “site decorum” up. Armstead means more to the team.
Bosa is running out of gas-Coach Yac
Some of the 49ers beat writers have covered this topic this week. Nick Bosa himself has spoken on the topic of him playing so many snaps down the stretch. The rookie pass rusher said In college, I rotated a lot. And it frustrated me to be out for important plays of the game. And now I get to be an important part of the defense at all times. So it’s a lot of fun.” Head coach Kyle Shanahan acknowledged the defensive line’s high snap counts, but knows that with injuries there isn’t much the team can do about it:
”I think guys do wear down a little bit with that. It’s something you fully expect this time of year, as the year goes, but it does add up. We do have some more guys coming back, but this is what happens when these injuries happen. The more you’re out there, the more you wear down. But it’s time to go; there’s not a lot of time left anyways.”
Since Week 9, Bosa has played 82%, 84%, 67%, 85%, 94%, and 94% of the snaps. So, if San Francisco isn’t blowing an opponent out, Bosa isn’t coming off the field. His production has taken a hit, but Bosa’s effort hasn’t. I think it’s less about Bosa running out of gas and more about opposing offenses sliding their protections his way. Bosa has seen more chip blocks from tight ends and running backs the past month than he had all season. He has still found ways to get into the opponent’s backfield.
The 49ers should place a second-round tender on Matt Breida and not match any deal he is offered. -Travis Hawkins
Good old Todd McShay believes the 49ers will take a running back in the first round. I bet John Lynch would take a quarterback before that happens. Looking ahead to the offseason, Matt Breida will be a restricted free agent. That means Breida is tied down with San Francisco unless the team allows Breida to become a free agent. The 49ers can place a first, second, or original-round tender on Breida. This means Breida can negotiate with other teams, but the negotiating team would have to give a second-round tender to Breida if that’s the designation the Niners placed on him. San Francisco can also place a “right of first refusal,” which means Breida can negotiate with other teams, but unlike placing a tender, the 49ers will not receive any compensation if they do not match the other teams offer.
As for Travis’s question, I agree. Breida is an explosive running back that is a walking big play waiting to happen. You are betting against history if you believe Breida will hold up for a 16-game season if the plan is to give him a heavy workload. As talented as “Cheetah” is, his availability matters. I don’t think any team would give up a second-round pick for Breida, but all it takes is one team. The 49ers would be wise to place a second-round tender on Breida as it’s a win-win for the team.
Robert Saleh is not a good coordinator. He needs to blitz more.-EdGe
We were spoiled with greatness in the first two months of the season. With injuries, the 49er’s defense has come back down to earth. The turnovers, sacks, and dominance we saw were not sustainable in the first half of the season. Here is a look at the 49ers DVOA on defense every week this season:
#49ers’ DVOA per week, here’s their DEF. (Goal is to stay as negative as possible.)— Akash Anavarathan (@akashanav) December 17, 2019
1. #49ers’ injuries are clearly killing them, 2 weeks in a row they’ve put up bad DVOAs.
2. Their worst games are vs. ARI (Weeks 9/11) — I’d throw out 9 (short week)
3. SEA/GB/BAL pic.twitter.com/FZ1LHsdAul
Anything below 0% is considered above average. Since the Packers game, San Francisco is trending in the wrong direction. No team has played Baltimore, as well as the 49ers, have this season, which is a credit to Saleh. But there is no excuse for allowing 48 points to the Saints or not being able to stop Atlanta late in the fourth quarter.
Finding the middle ground of “is Saleh good because he fields a defense full of good players,” or is it his scheme and play-calling is difficult. As injuries have mounted, Saleh has reverted to more vanilla schemes. The trust for more complicated coverages hasn’t been there. Saleh was never big on blitzing. San Francisco has blitzed the fourth-fewest amount of times this season. When the pressure isn’t getting there with four, the last two quarterbacks specifically have made plays and picked apart the 49ers zone defense.
I do think Saleh is a good coordinator. The defense has been prepared for the majority of the season. We haven’t seen the same mental mistakes that happened a year ago. Everything is better from tackling to turnovers, and Saleh is a big reason for that. While some in-game adjustments leave a lot to be desired—taking away Julio Jones, for example—Saleh’s gameplan’s have been fantastic all year.
That we do not have to make it to the Super Bowl for this to be a successful season. This team is special. It is so on its way to greatness, and I refuse to see not making the Super Bowl as a failure. Short of the goal? Sure, but no failure. -Leslie
Leslie is on the money. The tone around 49ers’ land after a loss is something else. I wonder if the lack of success the past handful of seasons has made fans think that this may be the only shot at a Super Bowl in the short-term future. With that train of thought comes, “the sky is falling, and the dream isn’t going to come true” attitude. Think about where this team was a year ago. 2019 has shown glimpses of what Lynch has wanted this team to look like the day he took over. A speedy, dominant in the trenches on defense with a high-flying offense.
We often get lost in the rollercoaster of emotions that is the NFL season and forget to enjoy the moment. This has no doubt been the most exciting football season that I’ve been apart of that I can remember. This team keeps you on the edge of your seat. If you go to the fridge during the game, you’re likely going to miss something important. As a fan, you shouldn’t want it any other way. It’s never fun when your team loses, especially in disappointing fashion. The 49ers are a legit Super Bowl contender that can beat any team in the NFL. After four years in a row of picking in the top-10 of the NFL Draft, take some time to realize how special this team is. Jimmy Garoppolo is in his first season off a season-ending injury. His two best wide receivers were not on the roster this time last season. This season was supposed to be full of growing pains as Garoppolo takes his lumps, and the 49ers compete in each game but hover around .500.
San Francisco has done anything but that.
No team has more big plays on offense, and even as the depth chart has taken a hit to injuries on defense, the team’s weighted defense—adjusted, so that earlier games in the season become gradually less important—is still third in the NFL. San Francisco has achieved a level of greatness in 2019 that very few teams have all decade. The ring at the end of the year would be the icing on what will be the season that laid the groundwork for years to come.