On Saturday, the San Francisco 49ers made the following moves:
Promoted from practice squad:
DL Alex Barrett
CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun
Activated from PS (standard elevation):
DL Darrion Daniels
OL Dakoda Shepley
OL Tom Compton (concussion)
DL Kevin Givens
Without D.J. Jones and Givens, that opens the door for Daniels, who is a nose tackle that has not been asked to rush the passer often to play more snaps. Barrett has been used on the edge this year. I’m curious if we see Dion Jordan kick inside on passing downs. Jordan’s done that occasionally this season.
Mullens’ play, however, has lacked consistency. In his eight appearances this season, he has thrown as many touchdowns (9) as interceptions. The former Southern Miss quarterback’s record as a starter with the 49ers is 5-9 with 22 career touchdowns and 19 interceptions.
The 49ers’ top three offensive playmakers have missed half of the team’s games. George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Raheem Mostert have all sat out of six contests. Each of them also have only been on the field with Mullens under center three times.
The offensive line also has had its share of injuries. Weston Richburg has spent the entire season on the Physically Unable to Perform list and Ben Garland has been on injured reserve since Week 7. Mullens has been sacked 13 times in his eight appearances.
The fact that the 49ers’ postseason hopes still are alive at all could be considered nothing short of a miracle.
Winning as the starting quarterback for this 49ers team might be too much to expect for anyone, even a first-round pick.
The No. 1 priority for the offseason must be re-signing left tackle Trent Williams. But at what cost? And how much is too much to ensure he returns in 2021?
The 49ers also have decisions to make about right tackle Mike McGlinchey. Do they lock him up through 2022 by picking up the fifth-year option, do they try to sign him to a contract extension or do they wait and see?
And what about the interior linemen? Are the 49ers fine heading into the future with left guard Laken Tomlinson? I’d think so. But what about Daniel Brunskill at center and Colton McKivitz at right guard?
Those are some of the many, many questions that Lynch and Shanahan will have to answer in the offseason.
“Our analytics guys give us all the stuff. They told me it was our most efficient analytics running game since we’ve been here. So, that was one of the more frustrating things. I thought we blocked as well as we’ve done and I thought we were running the ball very well. They controlled the ball very good and we didn’t convert a couple third downs. That’s why I think 14 of our runs were, I think in the first 20-something plays of the game. So I was very happy with our run. Hope we block the same way we did then and I hope the game works out to where we can get more called.”
That’s good news for a 49ers team that is down but not out yet. At 5-7, there’s still a chance they’ll run the table and finish 9-7. That could be enough to get in the postseason field, based on how things shake out for the other teams circling the seventh seed.
For the run game to have relevance, however, the defense needs to do a better job of slowing down the opposing offense. That’s where the 49ers failed on Monday night, putting the team in a hole from which it could never quite emerge.
Shanahan kept it real about the turnovers — they’re an issue for Mullens. But they also are an issue for Garoppolo.
Shanahan also gushed about Mullens’ ability to read defenses “the right way” and throw the ball “without hesitation.” Shanahan never says those things about Garoppolo. Shanahan seems to view Garoppolo as an indecisive quarterback who may not always understand what he sees when he looks at a defense.
Plus, Garoppolo rarely makes “off-schedule plays” anymore. He used to make them before he tore his ACL. Now, he just plants himself in the pocket and throws or gets sacked.
It seems to me that Shanahan prefers Mullens over Garoppolo but hasn’t mustered up the courage to say it.
Or maybe I’m just reading too much into things.
ESPN’s Mike Clay on Wednesday released his projected strength of schedule over the final quarter of the season. San Francisco’s final four opponents – Washington, Dallas, Arizona and Seattle – are among the easiest quartet of teams left on an NFL schedule.
The 49ers hold onto the seventh-easiest schedule strength per Clay:
While Washington is playing its best football of the year, they’re not a juggernaut and they travel across the country. Dallas is struggling. So are the Cardinals, and the Seahawks offense has started to look something less than unstoppable over the last few weeks.
Games aren’t won on paper though and the 49ers are struggling over the last several weeks. Their lone victory since Week 8 came in Week 12 against the Rams, and even that required a last-second field goal in a game where they generated four turnovers.