The San Francisco 49ers return practice Wednesday. We’ll have the season’s first injury report as well as some quotes from Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who will hold a conference call at 7:10 a.m. PT.
FPI’s strength of schedule rank: 12
Toughest stretch: From Week 7 to Week 10, the 49ers are on the road for three of four games — at New England, Seattle and New Orleans. In between is a home game against a Green Bay team that figures to still be smarting from a pair of blowout losses to the Niners at Levi’s Stadium in 2019. That stretch should go a long way in determining San Francisco’s playoff fate.
I appreciate Lynch’s candor and mostly agree with him. I don’t want to second guess him or use the benefit of hindsight to criticize the 49ers’ training camp.
Here’s what I’ll say: If the 49ers understood their players would have to practice more in camp this year because there were only 75 guys as opposed to 90, the starters should not have taken on the extra work. Let the backups work harder. Because lots of starters suffered soft-tissue injuries — George Kittle, Kyle Juszczyk, Nick Bosa and Dee Ford, to name a few.
Also, Lynch said he’s proud of his training staff. Proud isn’t the word I would use to describe it. For the past 15 to 16 months, the training staff has been the only part of the 49ers organization that’s been less than first-rate. Injuries have been a major issue for the 49ers the past two seasons. Lynch should re-examine that training staff.
“I really think it starts at the receiver position, just because they play it so uniquely with their tight splits with their ability to have a Deebo Samuel, not only block, help the running game but catch those tough balls over the middle, run the reverses, like we saw at the end of the year,” Collinsworth said.
“He’s just a bull.”
“I watched a lot of him in college,” Colinsworth said of Aiyuk, “and I think he has ability to have some of that same skill set and do some of those same things. But you don’t know it until you see it.
“I’m sure that Kyle and his staff have a much better feel for where this team is right now, but we still have to see. You still have to get a feel for, do they still have that same sort of ability to run it and play action and be able to hit some of those big plays in the passing game.”
Kyle Shanahan loves his running backs. It is because of that strong love that he has a very low tolerance for mistakes. Should any of the running backs currently on the active roster start to make continuous errors, do not be shocked if JaMycal Hasty gets the call up. Hasty was one of the more consistent players at training camp. He would make mistakes, but always made a handful of plays that make you say, “Wow”.
No. 2: SF 49ers Tackling Kyler Murray
While his overall body of work wasn’t at a league MVP level, Kyler Murray showed more than enough to suggest he’ll be a star in this league.
Particularly in both games faced against the 49ers last season. After one game, then-Niners defensive tackle DeForest Buckner was quoted as saying how tying to tackle Murray was going up against something “like a little squirrel running everywhere and everything.”
Murray’s rushing prowess last season was just part of the equation. It’s his ability to extend plays with his legs that should create some concern for Kyle Shanahan and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.
Last year, San Francisco had some issues with mobile quarterbacks, including Murray, as well as the Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson and Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson. Overall, the 49ers run defense took a step back last year, too, as the team allowed an average of 4.5 yards per carry — 23rd overall in the league.
2. Dee Ford will be the 49ers sacks leader
Ford has been plagued by injuries throughout the first six years of his career and, if his past pattern continues, the 49ers pass rusher is on the verge of a terrific season. It wasn’t until his third season with the Chiefs in 2016 that Ford was on the field for more than 50 percent of the defensive snaps, and the result was 10 sacks.
He followed that up with an injury-plagued 2017 season before playing the most snaps of his career in 2018 which led to 13 sacks. The injury bug bit Ford again during his first season as a 49er in 2019 which limited him to only 226 snaps. Ford was able to put up six and a half sacks last season despite playing the second fewest snaps of his career.
Look for Ford to finish the 2020 season as the 49ers sacks leader with 15.