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Golden Nuggets: What do we do with ourselves during the bye week?

Your daily San Francisco 49ers news for Sunday, October 17, 2021

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NLDS: LA Dodgers vs. San Francisco Giants Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

How is everyone spending the bye week? Do you get away from football today or are you tuned in watching Red Zone?

Takeo Spikes’ three keys for 49ers’ 2021 season turnaround

“No. 1, this team is only converting on the offensive side on third down 35 percent of the time, let’s go back two years ago when they went to the Super Bowl, they were converting at 45 percent. In order for this team to get ahead, they have to do better on third down,” Spikes said.

Indeed, the 49ers rank 24th in the NFL with a 35.59 percent conversion rate on third down. Whether it has been Jimmy Garoppolo or Trey Lance under center, the 49ers have not been able to keep drives alive the way they did just a few years ago.

4 Ways Kyle Shanahan Can Improve the 49ers Offense

3. Get the ball to Brandon Aiyuk behind the line of scrimmage.

You did that frequently last season, Kyle. Now, you’re more interested in calling passes for Mohamed Sanu, who’s not good and won’t be on the team next season. Aiyuk is the future, and he’s better than Sanu right now. Get the ball in Aiyuk’s hands any way you can — jet sweeps, end arounds, screens. Let him juke defenders the way he does when he returns punts. Get someone other than Deebo Samuel involved in the pass game.

John Lynch says 49ers believe in Brandon Aiyuk but need more ‘urgency’ from receiver

“First and foremost, I know that it’s critical for us to have him at his best for us to be at our best,” Lynch told NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco. “We drafted him where we drafted him for a reason. He’s an extremely talented young man. He’s an extremely hard-working young man.”

“Sometimes you run into some speed bumps, and he did with his health in training camp. And we had some other people playing at a high level. And so, this league is about working through that.”

49ers bye week reality check: Why things really aren’t so bad right now

They haven’t been that bad, FYI

A three-game losing streak is bad by any measure, but the 49ers actually only got outscored by 16 points combined in those contests. They outgained Seattle 457-234 and still lost 28-21 at home. Which ought to be impossible.

They even outgained Arizona 338-304 in that 17-10 loss, playing on the road with a rookie quarterback making his starting debut and essentially using an offensive game plan borrowed from the 1980s Nebraska Cornhuskers.

As many times as I’ve said and written that the 49ers haven’t looked great for a single quarter this season, I should also add that they haven’t looked outclassed for any sustained period in the first five weeks. OK, yes, giving up the lead to Aaron Rodgers in Week 3 didn’t look good. And the offense has sputtered for sure, particularly against the Eagles in Week 2.

San Francisco 49ers’ identity in 2021 is clear as mud - San Francisco 49ers Blog- ESPN

As the Niners hit this week’s bye, the answer is clear as mud. They have showed glimpses of a team capable of contending again, but have also struggled for long stretches.

If one possession in each game had gone a little different, the Niners could be undefeated. They also could be winless.

Instead, San Francisco is 2-3 and in the midst of a three-game losing streak in a season in which every game has been decided by eight points or fewer.

Indeed, there are a number of little and not-so-little details that have held the Niners back in the first five games. Among the primary issues are struggles on third down, turnover margin, a lack of big plays and costly penalties.