The San Francisco 49ers were efficient on offense against the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday. Both teams had nine drives, but the 49ers had nine more first downs and ran 18 more plays than Kansas City. There was plenty to like, and a couple of things that I didn’t like. Let’s get into it.
Two things I liked
Joe Staley gave up a sack. It happens. In this case, it happened against a very good pass-rusher. That’s one play. On the other 34 dropbacks that the quarterbacks had in this game, they were pressured only one additional time.
Jimmy Garoppolo had 2.54 seconds to throw, which was the third-most out of 50 quarterbacks during Week 3 of the preseason. The line dominated the Chiefs. It wasn’t limited to the pass, either. There were plenty of running lanes. This Matt Breida run of seven yards was a great example.
Non-offensive linemen Dante Pettis and Ross Dwelley are leading the way to the left. Ben Garland and Staley both seal their man. Mike McGlinchey, 69, got to the second level to ensure the backside linebacker can’t make the play. It was a great effort all-around, and an example of how the line performed.
Opening it up
There is way too much speed on offense for the 49ers to dink and dunk their way down the field. This is a team that is capable of making you pay down the field. The offense threw the ball 12 times over ten yards, and three of those came over 20 yards. You could make a strong argument all three should have been scores. The play to Richie James, the touchdown to Breida, and the pass to Jordan Matthews that should have been a walk-in touchdown.
It’s more than just chucking the ball deep. The 49ers play-action game is as good as it gets. Deebo Samuel and Ross Dwelley looked like they were running on air during their 20+ yard receptions. On Pettis’ 16-yard play-action catch, he had plenty of room as well. Kyle Shanahan uses every portion of the field, and that’s what will make this offense dangerous.
Two things I didn’t like
Execution in short-yardage situations
I know it’s preseason, but this is also a perfect opportunity to practice situational football. When the 49ers had three yards to go or less, they were 2-7. That can’t happen during the regular season if they are going to score touchdowns and not field goals. The first 3rd & 2, Laken Tomlinson and Garland block the same guy, Tevin Coleman doesn’t cut it up, and the Niners have to punt.
Dwelley’s drop came on 3rd & 3, but Jimmy should have stayed on his initial read longer. Here’s the play. To the short side of the field, you have Dwelley and Kendrick Bourne. To the wide side of the field, you have Pettis and Deebo. Garoppolo had Pettis here:
If that tight end is George Kittle, he catches that, and the drive stays alive. I don’t have a problem spreading the ball around, but I also am a big fan of getting the ball to your best players on “money” downs.
The execution has to be better in short-yardage situations, no matter who is on the field.
Taking your time with two minutes
We ran out of time, but I wanted to ask Shanahan what was up with the two-minute drill? You take over with the ball at your 40-yard line with three timeouts, and you run it? In one play you go from 1:45 to 1:09 left, and it’s 2nd & 10. The next two passes went for 11 and 23 yards. After the 23-yarder to Dwelley, the clock continues to run, but there was no timeout. Twenty-one seconds tick off the clock before you gain seven yards and spend your first timeout. Out of a timeout, the play was for Jimmy to throw it to Pettis in triple coverage?
Then, on 3rd & 3, the offense has the perfect pick play called to the top of the screen, but Garoppolo elects to go to Coleman in the flat. It was a bad spot, but Kendrick Bourne gets to the ten-yard line here, at worst.
Kansas City was in man coverage, and Bourne had a step.
The entire series was bizarre. The sense of urgency wasn’t there, and in a two-minute drill, that’s not acceptable.
Last thing I liked
Third down conversions
9-15 on third downs is unheard of. The Chiefs went 4-11. Converting 45% will guarantee you’re one of the top-five teams in the league. Converting 60% would get Shanahan an extension. One of those was Wilton Speight taking a knee, too. This may happen twice all season, but it was encouraging seeing the offense convert longer down and distances. Jordan Matthews caught one. Richie James took a five-yard out route and was fast enough to get the three yards to convert on a 3rd and 8. James also made a man miss and took an out route 16 yards. Letting the playmakers do the work. I like it. I like it a lot.