The defending NFC champs didn’t play up to expectations in Week 1.
It was a less than inspired effort from the San Francisco 49ers. The team lacked effort, energy, and execution in their loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Let’s look at some of the numbers from the Niners’ 2020 NFL regular-season opener.
Offensive snap count:
Hroniss Grasu played center with Ben Garland still sidelined. Pro Football Focus gave Grasu a grade of 66.0 in the opener, with his pass blocking at 84.8, which is the best on the team. Grasu didn’t give up one QB pressure in the game, but his run blocking grade came in at 59.0.
Raheem Mostert got the lion’s share of snaps out of the running backs and performed well. Mostert had 151 combined yards and a touchdown, while Jerick McKinnon looked good in his first game in more than two years.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan said before the season that he wanted to give tight end George Kittle fewer snaps in 2020, but that wasn’t the case in Week 1, despite the superstar getting an injury scare just before the half. Jordan Reed may get some more snaps as the season progresses, but that is something to keep an eye on going forward.
The Niners were missing their top two receivers with Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk sidelined with injuries. One thing that stood out is that Dante Pettis got 73% of the snaps and was utterly unnoticeable, except for when he lacked effort on his only target of the game.
This is a make-or-break year for the third-year receiver, and if he plays as he did in Week 1, Pettis will be gone from the team sooner than later.
Defensive snap count:
The defensive line was an area of intrigue once DeForest Buckner was dealt to the Indianapolis Colts. Nick Bosa played 70% of the snaps, his lowest total since last season’s 51-13 Week 7 blowout win over the Carolina Panthers.
Pass rushing specialist Dee Ford played the most snaps he has in a game since Week 1 of the 2019 season, including the playoffs. He failed to record a sack or quarterback hit. PFF gave him a grade of 59.1.
Solomon Thomas, D.J. Jones, and rookie Javon Kinlaw all saw equal playing time. Here is how PFF graded each of their performances in Week 1:
Thomas: Overall 44.9, run defense 39.3, pass rush 52.8
Jones: Overall 67.4, run defense 69.6, pass rush 57.9
Kinlaw: Overall 81.4, run defense 77.3, pass rush 68.6
The rookie showed his potential during the game, including when he forced Cardinals QB Kyler Murray to throw a quick incompletion in the red zone. Kinlaw is a beast in the middle, and I expect him to continue to get better each week, considering the lack of practice time this offseason due to the pandemic. Jones was coming off a severe injury and showed some rust, which he would’ve had the opportunity to try and knock off if there was a preseason. He should improve as the season goes on. Thomas is in a similar spot as Pettis. There are no more moral victories for the fourth-year pro. The NFL is a results-driven league, and Solly just hasn’t produced enough for him to continue to get meaningful snaps.
NFL Next Gen Stats:
- Mostert reached the fastest speed of any ball carrier since the 2018 season. The running back reached a max of 22.73 MPH during his 76-yard touchdown reception.
One criticism of Garoppolo is his ability to complete longer throws. The quarterback struggled against Arizona on passes of 15 yards or more, going just 1-for-6.
Another trend that continued from last season is Garoppolo’s struggles throwing to the right side. Below is his overall chart from 2019 showing his passer rating when passing to different parts of field:
According to Next Gen Stats’ chart, he went 6-for-13 when throwing to the right of the hashmarks.
We will see if Garoppolo can improve on these aspects over the coming weeks, if not, look for opposing teams to try and expose his weaknesses.