Well faithful, if you’re anything like me though you’re over last week’s blunder vs. Atlanta part of you still finds yourself scratching your head. Almost as if to say, “What happened?” Not to worry though, it’s normal, but onto the next important game, the next game.
Welcome to (or back to) the Silverado for our weekly ride, which after a game like last week, feels more like a therapy session. The only difference is neither of us is laying on a couch, yet we’re in the Silverado going back and forth about last week. Well, you know the drill. Put your seat belt, get comfortable, and we’ll get moving.
If it’s okay with you, I really rather not spend too much time talking about last week as it’s time to focus on the Los Angeles Rams, not to mention it makes me a little sick to my stomach being completely honest. That said, let’s get into what it’ll take from Head Coach Kyle Shanahan, General Manager John Lynch, and the 49ers to bounce back and cook up a victory.
Jimmy G (More Good Jimmy less bad Jimmy)
Well, here we are again discussing the Good Jimmy vs. Bad Jimmy dichotomy. After a performance vs. the Saints in which Good Jimmy looked to be evolving into Great Jimmy, last week vs. Atlanta, it was definitely Bad Jimmy dominant. Jimmy finished the day 22/34 200, 1 touchdown (TD). That’s just about 65% on the day, not bad, right? Especially not having thrown an interception.
It wasn’t that he was careless, turning the ball over (Bad Jimmy trait), because he didn’t. He seemed hesitant, unsure, and just lost (another Bad Jimmy trait) almost. What stood out most, was he seemed very George Kittle dependent. Now I won’t lie to you and say I know exactly what it was that caused this type of performance, but I do have my own theory, as I expressed in the tweets below.
Look. I get Kittle needs 129 for the record & Coleman played for ATL. But stop forcing them the ball. We've got plenty weapons.Trying to force Kittle the ball and force Coleman go off because he's an ex Falcon will end up costing us this game. JUST MOVE THE BALL, SCORE, AND WIN!— Kev Mitchell (@Silverado_Kev) December 15, 2019
Okay, record broken. CAN WE PLAY FOOTBALL INSTEAD OF JIMMY AND KITTLE PLAYING CATCH NOW? LET'S GO DEFENSE. pic.twitter.com/fvfj05VqPd— Kev Mitchell (@Silverado_Kev) December 15, 2019
As silly as it may sound, it just looked like he was determined to get Kittle his record in that game, and just about in the first quarter the way he was laser-focused on him. I actually tweeted the following during the game. I could be alone here, and if so, that’s fine. But it just seemed from the start we were completely flat, and we determined to get (force) the ball to Kittle.
See, that look on your face is all too familiar, and I know where this is going. So before you go off the deep end, hear me out. I have no issue with getting the ball to Kittle as he’s indeed our best offensive weapon. What I do have a problem with is us forcing him the ball, especially when there are other options open. This tweet came after the game of course but I was still set on my theory.
This is why we lost. You can't tell me there was nobody else open each time we forced the ball to Kittle. He didn't need the record TODAY! Kittle had more targets than everyone else combined. If I'm wrong, I'll admit that. But..... ♂️ We deserved to lose. Bright side, WE CLINCHED. pic.twitter.com/GV6aodjuMC— Kev Mitchell (@Silverado_Kev) December 16, 2019
I still don’t know for sure, but it was just my hunch. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one that felt this way. My guy John Chapman also noticed the same thing. ROLL TAPE.
Jimmy was forcing balls into Kittle instead of the open man. This resulted in shorter or incomplete passes.— John Chapman (@JL_Chapman) December 19, 2019
Video editing by @BosaDROY #49ers #49erscentral #49erFaithful #faithful #Niners #NinerEmpire #ninergang pic.twitter.com/kl9n4fBlYj
I will say, the offensive line didn’t help much as Jimmy had pressure most of the day, which made him uncomfortable, so he looked to get the ball out fast as possible to where he had the most trust. But there were other plays, in which Jimmy just either didn’t see the open options or just didn’t bother to look. Both the aforementioned, are, you guessed it BAD JIMMY TRAITS. Let’s go, Jimmy, bounce back.
Passing game (Spread the ball around)
Okay, to avoid beating a dead horse, I’ll jump on and back off this topic, but it’s a segue into this section. At the half, Jimmy was 13/22, of his 22 attempts, 13 were to Kittle. Okay, I’m done with that. I don’t care who it is, Emmanuel Sanders, Deebo Samuel, Kendrick Bourne, Kyle Juszczyk, or one of the running backs. Just get everyone involved.
I don’t care how, but make them respect each player on the field as a threat. I know this has a lot to do with the blocking of the offensive line as they need to provide time for Jimmy, but by all means every chance you get show the defense each guy out there can have an impact. If they’re focusing on Kittle, okay find another playmaker. I’m not a genius, but I’m willing to bet they’re going to have the mindset of, “If Kittle sneezes, you be close enough to say bless you and hand him a tissue.”
Okay, play that game. That just means Jimmy has to find one of the following.
The 49ers have a variety of capable weapons on offense; Jimmy just needs the time and field vision to find them. It’s crunch time, Jimmy, show the world you too are a playmaker! Will good Jimmy, please stand up? And stay standing! The time is now!
Run game (The rebirth of the three-headed monster)
It’s no secret this 49ers team is run game dominant, and teams look to shut the run game down to make them one dimensional. Though they can also pass the ball as well, the offense thrives off the success of the run game. That said, though Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida have both taken back seats to Raheem Mostert, so to speak, it’s time to get all three going again.
Though he hasn’t really showed up much recently, Coleman can also make defenses pay. He just needs the blocking to do so. This run here truly warmed my heart as I felt perhaps Coleman had lost it.
Again, given the space Breida too can burn a defense. Let’s go offensive line, get some push and open holes, and let that three-headed monster behind you be great!
Figured I’d save Raheem “The Dream” Mostert for last. I said if earlier in the season and am still waiting to see it happen. It being all three of these horses to rush for over 100 yards in a game, or close to it. Call me a homer if you like, but I feel as though it is definitely possible. Them hogs upfront just need to do their jobs.
Get push and manhandle the man across from them. Can you imagine how well the play-action would work with all three of these backs eating up yards every carry? Why not now? LET’S GO HOGS, DOMINATE!
Look, the Rams have the 24th ranked rush defense (allowing 93.9 yards per game) in the NFL, the 49ers need to exploit that. I know as of late Mostert has been the guy, and I’m all for him continuing to come up big, but how great would it be to see all three kick it into gear just in time for the playoffs and have teams committing at the sight of play action? RUN BABY RUN!
Defensive line (Take some pressure off Bosa)
You know it’s funny, there are a number of analysts and fans asking the same question: What happened to the 49ers defense?
INJURIES! Does it really take a rocket scientist to understand that this team has lost the majority of its defensive line depth? I know this is football and injuries happen, but c’mon now. This defense has lost starters Kwon Alexander and DJ Jones for the season, and backups Ronald Blair and Damontre Moore for the season as well. Dee Ford and Jaquiski Tartt have also missed time this season dealing with an injury, but somehow, someway, this team finds a way to play defense and win.
Just look at the below tweets to see how these injuries have changed the productivity of this defense.
Point differential for the #49ers:— Akash Anavarathan (@akashanav) December 16, 2019
Weeks 1 - 8 (7 games): +130
Weeks 9 - 15 (7 games): +30
San Francisco was blowing out teams early and while that wasn't sustainable, they are certainly winning/losing tight games over the past two months.
The 49ers' defense since Week 9 (at ARI)— Akash Anavarathan (@akashanav) December 16, 2019
- 25.9 PPG
- 180 Passing YPG
- 133.6 Rushing YPG
- 14 Passing TDs
- 6 Rushing TDs
- 1 INT (Greenlaw)
It's difficult maintaining that historic level, but injuries to Ford, Jones, Alexander, Tartt, Sherman, Williams, Blair are showing up.
For the record, I’m not one for excuses, but facts are facts. This defense has been decimated by injuries. At this point, it’s up to rookie Nick Bosa to generate pressure off the edge. Bosa has had an amazing rookie season. Still, with his increased number of snaps played along with teams sliding protection to his side and the increased snaps of DeForrest Buckner and Arik Armstead, the pass rush has become just about nonexistent.
To add more context to this, the 49ers defense has also been forced to play guys out of position. Neither Armstead or Thomas are dominant edge defenders. Both do their best work inside. Before the injuries, the front four had the luxury of 1 on 1’s and was able to win and capitalize on them. Factoring in the slew of injuries, Bosa is just about alone on the edge.
Again, no excuses. Somehow, the rest of this 49ers defensive line will have to find ways to have an impact. With Kentavius Street being inserted into the lineup and the expected return of Ford, in time, this once-dominant pass rush will again be able to cause havoc.
For now, they’ll need to dig deep to play their best football as individuals. LET’S GO DEFENSE; THIS IS YOUR OPPORTUNITY TO SHOW UP, SHOW OUT, AND HOLD DOWN THIS DEFENSE UNTIL FORD IS HEALTHY. I know we the faithful believe in you, but it’s up to you as individuals to believe in yourselves. LET’S GO DEFENSE!
We have arrived
Well, we’re back at Levi’s, and as always it’s been a pleasure, I hope you feel the same. Go ahead and get to your seats and get ready to be loud as possible to support our 49ers. No way around it, this is a must-win of two must-wins necessary to secure a first-round bye and provide ample time for the reinforcements on defense to heal up and get back on the field.
For now, let’s keep (Good) Jimmy clean, allowing him to get the ball to his playmakers, and play dominant defense as we have the majority of the season. LET’S GO NINERS; THE TIME IS NOW. LET’S FINISH THIS SPECIAL SEASON, WITH THIS SPECIAL TEAM, ON THE WAY TO THE SUPER BOWL, WINNING ONE GAME AT A TIME. ALL GAS, NO BRAKE!