The San Francisco 49ers have plenty of question marks heading into Week 5. The offense is putrid, the kicker is hurt, and Jimmy Garoppolo’s injury bug won’t go away. On the other hand, DeMeco Ryans continues to command the defense over expectation. Sunday was a game of highs and lows, and it should have been a game of dominance for the Niners.
We take a look at the uplifting and deflating plays below.
Moseley’s best play in a primetime matchup
The Moseley vs. Metcalf matchup was amazing. Metcalf poses a significant threat with his catch radius and explosiveness. San Francisco’s cornerback depth has continued to be a concern, but they had a strong performance overall. Moseley and Metcalf went back and forth, and Moseley’s third-down stop was the highlight of the matchup.
DeMeco Ryans called a Cover 1 look with Azeez Al-Shaair blitzing coupled with Fred Warner spying Russell Wilson. Leaving the corner on an island as the post safety (Jaquiski Tartt) is mainly covering the middle of the field. Moseley got beat by Metcalf on the double move, but he played through the receiver’s hands to dislodge the ball.
Lance’s improvising ability
Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a calf contusion and didn’t return after halftime. Leaving Trey Lance to be abruptly put in the game plan.
Lance didn’t have the strongest rookie opener. His rocky start startled many, but he showed plenty of upside in a game where the odds were against him. The offense has been stagnant in the previous three games.
In the first play, Lance is able to climb out of a muddy pocket and scramble for a few yards. Next, you see him make a play on an unblocked defender and deliver a strike. Lance’s ability to improvise will stretch drives. His accuracy will get better with time. He had several passes high, but that is something Garoppolo (an 8-year veteran) struggles with as well.
Deebo Samuel puts the team on his back
Samuel has continued to impress me. He has taken strides to become an exceptional receiver. This touchdown displays his toughness as he barrels through three defenders. It’s disrespectful that people call this a garbage-time touchdown.
Again, the growth of Samuel has been breathtaking. He currently leads the league in receiving yards. The offense has heavily relied on Samuel. San Francisco’s offense will take off when Brandon Aiyuk joins Samuel as a consistent contributor.
Trenton Cannon special teams flop
Last week, Cannon’s kick return was the most uplifting play of the game. This week, Cannon was responsible for the most pivotal turnover of the game.
This wasn’t Cannon’s first special team error. Earlier in the game (4:59 2nd), Cannon forgot that he couldn’t roll into the endzone when fielding a punt. Pinning Seattle near the goalline would’ve added pressure to their offense. They had five straight three-and-outs up to that point.
Two third-down errors lead to Alex Collins touchdown
Both Dee Ford and Dre Kirkpatrick had unruly penalties. The fourth quarter is crunch time. There is no time for self-inflicted wounds at this point in the game. Ford’s offside penalty negated Kirkpatrick’s good coverage on Metcalf. Giving Seattle an easy third and one.
A few plays later, Kirkpatrick would commit an unnecessary penalty as well. Tyler Lockett beat Kirkpatrick off the line, and Kirkpatrick recovered without trusting his technique. I called it unnecessary because he should have tried to find the ball. Instead, it was a bang-bang play that could’ve been avoided.
Shanahan’s distasteful 4th and 2 jet-sweep call
The Niners’ offense needed two yards down 15 points with six minutes left in the game. Kyle Shanahan decided to call a jet-sweep where Samuel runs behind Lance. Shanahan outsmarted himself on this play call.
It’s another example of the offense being too horizontal. Lance already made dazzling plays on this drive. Shanahan should’ve put the ball in Lance’s hands and let him make a play.
There are 13 games left in the season. San Francisco has to minimize the mistakes. I’ve been talking about playing a cleaner game for weeks.
The Arizona Cardinals will be another tall task before the bye. Shanahan shouldn’t even be thinking about playing Garoppolo after he was rushed back last season.
A Trey Lance-led offense will look different next week. Arizona’s defense has been playing at a high level this year. But the 49ers have plenty of playmakers on offense to compete.
Trent Williams missing next week is my main concern, though Shanahan said he’s day-to-day. Chandler Jones and J.J. Watt can win when lined up on either tackle. The offensive line will have to buckle up for a tough one.