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Golden Nuggets: The 49ers defensive front couldn’t have played much better versus the Cardinals

Your daily San Francisco 49ers links for Tuesday, October 12, 2021

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San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Only the 49ers. Jimmy Garoppolo had a calf injury. Kyle Shanahan couldn’t tell you when it happened. Trey Lance had a knee sprain. Shanahan couldn’t tell you when it happened. This season was always going to be a rollercoaster but it’s been bizarre and we’re only five games in.

49ers minutia minute: Trey Lance’s options at goal line - The ...

It was a rough welcome-back game for Norman, who gave up four catches — including a closely contested touchdown by DeAndre Hopkins — while also being flagged for pass interference and holding. He also slipped on the short throw to Rondale Moore, the play that set up the Cardinals’ touchdown in the first quarter.

The slip allowed Moore to get to the outside where Tartt seemed to underestimate his speed, causing him to take a bad angle. Moore eventually was knocked out of bounds by Warner at the 1-yard line. Note: The Cardinals drafted Moore, a fast slot receiver who returns punts, one spot after the 49ers took guard Aaron Banks. Moore caught five of six targets and was the game’s second-leading receiver with 59 yards.

49ers’ biggest problem: Shanahan can’t find offensive identity

The analytics show that three of the decisions leaned heavily toward those being the right calls. The other two were toss-ups. Basically, it is difficult to fault Shanahan’s decisions.

What can be second-guessed, however, are the actual play calls.

The best thing the 49ers had going for them on Sunday were quarterback Trey Lance’s running and Samuel’s playmaking. And that is where Shanahan seemed to lean with his crucial decisions.

The failed play calls were:

—A quarterback power on fourth and two on which Lance was stuffed for a 1-yard gain.

—A rollout pass, likely with Samuel as the first option. When Samuel got tied up in traffic, Lance decided to run. If he had gone high, instead of low, he almost certainly would not have been stopped at the goal line.

49ers QB Lance has knee sprain, out 1-to-2 weeks ‘at worst’

But in the hours after the game, Lance began experiencing knee discomfort that warranted an MRI examination.

Coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters on Monday afternoon that Lance sustained a left knee sprain that makes him questionable for the 49ers’ Week 7 game against the Indianapolis Colts.

“He said he didn’t remember doing it at any time, and he didn’t feel it until he was in bed last night,” Shanahan said.

Shanahan said Lance’s condition should not keep him out of action for long — if it keeps him out at all. The 49ers are currently on their bye week.

“He’ll have to stay here during the bye week and get treatment and everything, so we should have a good idea by the end of next week whether he’s got a chance for Indy or not,” Shanahan said. “If he doesn’t, they told me it should be a one- to two-week thing, but possibly just one.”

Plenty of good to go around the bad from 49ers’ Week 5 loss to Cardinals

The 49ers defensive front couldn’t have played much better against MVP frontrunner Kyler Murray and the Cardinals. They sacked Murray twice and never let him get going on the ground. They flustered him on the interior and didn’t let him consistently escape the pocket. Murray had just 1 rushing yard and a potent Cardinals offense never got rolling in part because of the play of the 49ers’ defensive front.

49ers’ Kyle Shanahan says NFL Network reporter ‘made up’ report about Trey Lance, Jimmy Garoppolo

“I feel like they’d have to talk to me or [general manager] John [Lynch],” Shanahan said. “And I don’t talk to many people, especially the night before game, just my family.”

When Shanahan was asked a follow-up about what would have happened if Lance had played better, he said, “You guys are throwing out a lot of hypotheticals, especially from someone who made something up. Not you, whoever you got that [from].”

For what it’s worth, Shanahan did say once again after the game that Garoppolo is still his team’s starting quarterback when healthy, but he seemed to take umbrage with the notion that there’s nothing Lance can do to win the starting job.