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5 takeaways from the 49ers' loss to the Denver Broncos: 3rd down was a nightmare

It’s still early

San Francisco 49ers v Denver Broncos Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

That was one of the worst losses of the Kyle Shanahan era in San Francisco. There is no way around it. The 49ers blew it and lost a game they should have dominated. Here are five takeaways from the game.

An all-time defense is at risk of being wasted.

There wasn’t much more than the 49ers defense could have done on Sunday night in Denver. They only allowed nine points and somehow lost this game. They’ve only allowed 9.3 points per game this season, and yet they find themselves under .500 at 1-2 with a daunting stretch on the schedule looming soon.

It’s too early to go into a full-blown panic, but watching the way that the season has unfolded so far, it’s fair to be concerned that all of these heroic efforts from the 49ers' defense won’t be enough to overcome what has been a stagnant offense so far.

The Jimmy Garoppolo roller coaster is back

It feels like groundhog day watching Garoppolo. The same mistakes, the same missed throws, and the same solid to above-average play sprinkled in. The only thing that is consistent about Garoppolo is the inconsistency that he plays with.

Not only did Garoppolo run into the back of the end zone, which led to a safety, and fumbled a snap and threw an egregious interception at the most critical juncture in this game. He was awful, and even some of the throws he completed were off target and cost the 49ers additional yards.

Third down nightmares

The 49ers were flat-out abysmal on third down in this game. They finished 1/10 on the money down in this one. Garoppolo was 3/7 for 18 yards on third down, and the team just couldn’t sustain any rhythm on offense in this one.

The 49ers' first successful third-down conversion didn’t come until there were about 3 minutes left in the game, and the offense’s inability to stay on the field and extend drives is a primary reason they lost this game.

Streak snapped & turnover woes

The Broncos ran the ball 33 times for 101 yards, breaking a streak of 14 consecutive games where the 49ers' defense didn’t allow a 100-yard rusher. The 3.1 yards per attempt was more than respectable, but the absence of Arik Armstead was felt in this one in a major way.

The 49ers committed three turnovers in this one, pushing their differential on the season back into the red at -1. San Francisco missed a couple of huge opportunities to pounce on a loose ball fumbled by a Broncos ball carrier, which ultimately ended up being the difference in this game.

It’s still early

Look, I understand that was one of the worst performances we have seen from the 49ers under Kyle Shanahan. It was a game they had no business losing, and it was the second time in three weeks that they lost to an opponent who they had outplayed for the majority of the game.

But 1-2 is far from a death sentence, and a double-digit win season is still well within reach. The defense is incredible, and if the offense finds any groove suddenly the 49ers look like a team that can go toe to toe with any other team in the league.

Playoffs are still a very real possibility, and no matter how bad the loss in Denver was, the 49ers are still very much in the thick of the playoff race and will remain there as long as that talented defense stays intact.