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Golden Nuggets: The 49ers must find their running game during the bye week

Your daily San Francisco 49ers links for Tuesday, November 17, 2020

San Francisco 49ers v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Kyle Shanahan will speak to the media this afternoon to provide injury updates. That will be the last time we hear from the team until next week.

49ers’ blocking woes vs. Saints; Arik Armstead placed on COVID-19 list

“I’m sick at how hard they fought and that we had a chance to win that game,” Shanahan said. “I think it really came down to turnovers. That was the thing that was most disheartening. I think if we take care of the ball, with the effort that all the guys gave, I think it could have been a much different result.”

McKivitz’s missed block on a key fourth-and-1 play led to one of the times McKinnon was stopped behind the line of scrimmage. It may have been the biggest play of the game. Instead of taking a lead before the half, the 49ers turned the ball over on downs and the Saints promptly marched down the field for a touchdown.

McKivitz, a fifth-round pick, has been rotating with multi-year veteran Compton at right guard. The arrangement seems to be: Compton plays three series, McKivitz plays the next two. Compton had a good game. McKivitz was shaky.

Four Takeaways From the 49ers’ 27-13 Week 10 Loss to Saints

Jerick McKinnon needs his snaps reduced

I know the 49ers are riddled with injuries throughout their roster, especially at the running back position. But Jerick McKinnon is not a serviceable player in the backfield. He needs his snaps reduced. Every carry that he received against the Saints looked as if his pads weighed at least 50 pounds. That is how slow he looked running the rock. McKinnon lacks explosion, burst, and relatively any speed.

Given how inconsistent the offensive line has been, the 49ers need their running backs to be able to hit the running lanes on a dime since they do not last. With McKinnon, that lane will disappear by the team he gets to the line of scrimmage. He is just a negative hand off waiting to happen every single time. Austin Walter would have been the better option. Luckily for the 49ers, Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman are expected to return after the bye week.

Who was good, who was bad for 49ers vs. Saints

The 49ers offensive line struggled bad against a blitz-heavy game plan by New Orleans. The Saints had nine QB hits and two sacks, and San Francisco averaged fewer than 2.0 yards per carry. Daniel Brunskill started again at center, and Tom Compton started at right guard before eventually being taken out for rookie Colton McKivitz. Add in a couple penalties on Laken Tomlinson and one play where right tackle Mike McGlinchey got wiped out by defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, and it’s the makings of a no-good, very bad day for the offensive line.

9 Takeaways from 49ers Mistake-Ridden Loss to Saints

New Orleans caught steam following two unfortunate drives by San Francisco. A muffed punt by San Francisco in the second quarter gave the Saints possession at the 49ers 21. The ensuing drive, a stop behind the line of scrimmage by Saints defensive tackle David Onyemata on 4th-and-1 set up New Orleans inside their own 41. Both short field drives resulted in touchdowns by Saints do-it-all running back Alvin Kamara to take the lead going into the half.

“I think it really came down to turnovers and that was most disheartening,” Kyle Shanahan said postgame. “If we took care of the ball with the effort that all the guys gave, I think it could’ve been a much different result.”

49ers Monday Musings

No running game: The 49ers running game is nowhere to be found with Jerick McKinnon and JaMycal Hasty gaining a total of 156 yards over the past three games. In 2019, the San Francisco rushing attack was held to less than 100 yards only four times, a total that they have matched in only ten games this season.

Anyone catch what Salvon Ahmed has been doing in Miami the past two weeks? The undrafted rookie spent training camp with the 49ers, but was released in August and picked up by the Dolphins. He didn’t see action through the first eight weeks of the season but has been given his shot over the last two weeks and made the most of it, racking up 123 yards and one touchdown on 28 attempts.

Brandon Aiyuk keeps thriving in expanded role

He’s developing into a terrific player who appears to already be filling the void Emmanuel Sanders left when he exited in free agency.

The 49ers desperately needed a player who could be a threat after the catch while also stretching defenses vertically. Aiyuk has done that the last three weeks, and there’s room for him to continue doing so with Samuel back in the lineup.

San Francisco invested heavy draft capital in Aiyuk by trading up three spots to pick him. They needed him to be very good, and he’s on track to be arguably their best receiver before his rookie season is even over.