Marcus Mariota did whatever he wanted against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Kyle Shanahan fell to his former Atlanta Falcons in a head-scratching fashion. The loss doesn’t feel real, but Shanahan was outcoached, and his team was outplayed. Let’s look at three things we learned from San Francisco’s 28-14 loss below.
Ryans’ defense gets punctured
DeMeco Ryans’ fortune ran out as Mariota could do no wrong Sunday. Ryans’ defense missed six key starters and lost Mooney Ward to a groin injury before halftime. As a result, San Francisco allowed their first opening drive of the season, and Arthur Smith’s offense ran the ball with a purpose.
Mariota’s first incompletion didn’t come until the fourth quarter. I feared that Mariota would hurt the defense with his legs in critical situations. He cleared his 30.5 rushing total, finishing with 50 rush yards on six carries.
Samson Ebukam’s tackle for loss on 3rd & 1 near the end of the third quarter gave the offense its best shot at a 14-point comeback. Jeff Wilson’s fumble put the defense at a disadvantage that they couldn’t overcome.
The defense’s adversity is mounting with the possibility of Mooney Ward missing time. Ryans needs his defensive line and secondary on ice to help slow down the powerhouse Chiefs.
The 49ers collectively had offensive struggles
Brandon Aiyuk’s first career multi-touchdown game is overshadowed by the team’s offensive struggles. Wilson’s fumble on the second offensive drive almost took the energy out of the 49ers. But Garoppolo would answer by hitting Aiyuk three times on the ensuing drive, which ended with seven points.
The interception before the half was a so-so play. I thought Garoppolo could’ve done something different than throw into triple coverage, but he’s just trying to give Deebo Samuel a chance with nine seconds and no timeouts before the half.
Ray-Ray McCloud dropped a perfect deep throw from Garoppolo coming out of the half, and the drive ended in a three-and-out. Charlie Woerner dropped a well-thrown ball from Garoppolo as well. No offense, but why are these guys getting these plays instead of your star players?
The worst penalty of the day was Jake Brendel’s offensive holding that negated a 39-yard Aiyuk reception. And Garoppolo’s worst throw of the day was the deep shot to Aiyuk toward the middle of the field. Garoppolo was the second-best player on offense outside of Aiyuk, the second interception could have been a better ball, but it hit Samuel’s hands. Shooting yourself in the foot will not fly against the Chiefs.
A talent-deficient Atlanta Falcons outplayed San Francisco
San Francisco’s injury bug feels permanent, so there’s no need to cope with it here. This year’s injury list is long, but the Falcons were without the best player in Cordarrelle Paterson. Not to mention they were without their young star linebacker Mykal Walker, A.J. Terrell, and Ta’Quon Gram left the game with injuries.
Every dog has its day in the NFL, and the 49ers got, got. San Francisco’s touchdown-less second halves have been a theme in each of their three losses. The offense bankrupts the defense by failing to keep up with other teams. This defense can get stops, but this is an offensive-driven league, and this team needs to put up points, especially with a play-calling wizard.
The Kansas City Chiefs travel to Levi’s Stadium for Week 7 for San Francisco’s tallest task to date. 49er fans know all about Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Chris Jones after Super Bowl 54’s heartbreak. Hopefully, Ryans’ soldiers return for battle, and the offense kicks into another gear next week.