The finger-pointing is at an all-time high after the 49ers lost their fourth game in a row. Unsurprisingly, Kyle Shanahan is receiving the majority of the blame. How could he not? The team looked sharp on their first drive, which is usually the case, then offensively put up a stinker for the rest of the game.
Let’s look at some winners and losers from the Colts game.
Winner - TE Charlier Woerner
Woerner was the best player on offense for the 49ers Sunday night. He looked fantastic. It’s taken him time to get up to speed, but Woerner played fast and executed some high-difficulty blocks against the Colts. If you didn’t know any better, you would have thought Woerner was the Niners starting tight end.
Woerner caught both of his targets for 30 yards. However, it was his blocking that earned him a spot on the Winners’ side. It was an impressive performance from the tight end out of Georgia.
RB Elijah Mitchell
The only thing Mitchell did wrong was not touch the ball more. But, of course, that’s not his fault. Colts LB Darius Leonard said he was happy when the 49ers stopped running their misdirection plays that led to so much success on the first drive.
Mitchell had a 44% success rate and seemed to do a better job than in previous games of making people miss. You’ll take 18 carries for 107 yards every day of the week. Week 7 was a strong performance for the 49ers’ sixth-round rookie.
LB Azeez Al-Shaair
Al-Shaair “recovered a fumble” that ended a Colts drive. He also had a tackle for loss that forced Indy to throw earlier. Al-Shaair finished with nine tackles and continues to play sound defense for San Francisco. When he hits you, it makes an impact. There’s no substitute for a linebacker that can run, hit and is always around the ball. I’m a big fan of Al-Shaair’s game.
Losers - WR Deebo Samuel
Samuel had seven receptions for 100 yards and a touchdown. He’s been one of the most productive receivers in the NFL. So, why is he listed as a “loser” this week? You can’t fumble the ball.
The score is 12-7 49ers with just over three minutes to play in the first half. Up until this point, the Colts had six drives. Four of them were punts, one fumble, and a touchdown. They couldn’t muster anything against the Niners’ defense that was sustainable. But then, the fumble by Samuel changed everything.
The Colts scored a touchdown on two of their next three drives and would score ten more points in the game. However, I’m not sure they get going on offense withoutSamuel’ss fumble.
Later in the game, the offense ran a tunnel screen for Samuel, who would have run for at least 20 yards and maybe more. The blocking was set up perfectly for him to have a massive gain. But, Deebo dropped the ball.
TE Ross Dwelley
For as well as Woerner played, Dwelley was equally as bad as a blocker. Jimmy Garoppolo throws an 80-yard touchdown to Brandon Aiyuk if Dwelley can sustain his block. However, there were a couple of other plays where Dwelley was beaten off the line of scrimmage so quickly that the play never stood a chance.
Dwelley gives great effort, but that only gets you so far without skill. The difference in this game between Dwelley and Woerner was eye-opening.
DT Kentavius Street
Street was thrown out of the club by the Colts guards multiple times Sunday night:
One of Javon Kinlaw’s biggest strengths is that he holds up against double teams, which allows the linebackers to run free behind him. Unfortunately, that was not the case Sunday night. Too often, Street was five, six, and seven yards down the field as he couldn't hold his ground. It was a big reason why Jonathan Taylor ran for over 100 yards.
QB Jimmy Garoppolo
Garoppolo threw two interceptions, had three turnover-worthy plays, threw the ball to an underneath linebacker again, which gives you six plays where he could have turned the ball over. That’s not counting his fumble on the play that was a sack.
I understand the conditions. If you watched Carson Wentz, he fumbled a snap, but he looked far more comfortable. For as much criticism Shanahan gets —it’s all well deserved —he’s handcuffed with Garoppolo under center. Jimmy’s timing is off. He’s never seen the field well, but when he doesn’t pull the trigger, there’s not much you can do on offense with Garoppolo. He missed Dwelley, who was wide open, on a third-down target that would have moved the chains.
There were a couple of other throws where the ball was so far behind the wideout that it made the defense look good. Even on two RPOs, Garoppolo made the incorrect decision which would have led to I’ddplays. I’d pay money to know what Shanahan truly thinks of Jimmy G and how far behind Trey Lance is in thiGaroppolo’ssaroppolo’ss mistakes are mounting, and they are getting worse by the week. If Sunday night was an anomaly, then we can talk about the conditions. The missed throws, sack fumbles, and interceptions happen every game.
Winners - CB Josh Norman
Josh Norman will be remembered for defensive pass interference and the touchdown ”n theColts” first scoring drive, but he played well after that. Norman broke up a pass where he ran the comeback route for the receiver. He also had three tackles for loss while leading the defense in tackles with ten. He was aggressive, sniffed out screens, and was a big reason why the Colts were constantly behind the chains.
LG Laken Tomlinson
Tomlinson was the best offensive lineman on the evening and did a fantastic job against DeForest Buckner, aside from one play. I saw Tomlinson drive a Colts defender 15, no exaggeration, yards down the field and bury him into the ground. This was his best game of the season.
IDK - Kyle Shanahan
Shanahan seems overwhelmed. Seventeen different things are going on at once as a head coach, and it’s his responsibility to take care of them all. If calling plays is too much, give those duties to Mike McDaniel — someone who has been by your side for a decade.
After each loss, Shanahan looks more and more deflated. You get the sense that he’s not sure what to do at the quarterback position, and it’s affecting how he coaches.
Something has to change. I’m not talking about just the quarterback position. I’m talking about the entire team. We’re not at the facility, so we don’t know everything going on. What we do know is that whatever the message or motive might be isn’t working. It’s on the head ball coach to fix that. He’s running out of time if he wants to salvage the season.