clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

A championship-caliber defense is being masked by a stagnant offense

We knew this unit would be good coming into the season, but they’ve exceeded expectations through two weeks

NFL: SEP 25 49ers at Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Through three games, the 49ers' defense allows just 9.3 points per game. They are allowing just 227 yards per game, and boast the number one pass defense and the fourth-ranked rushing defense. They have allowed only nine points over their last two games and have yet to let an opponent break 20.

Their ferocious pass rush has generated a 44% pressure rate thus far, the secondary has been solid, and they have allowed just 2.8 yards per rush. They have been the best defense in the league thus far.

Despite this, the 49ers find themselves sitting at 1-2 with a daunting matchup looming against the reigning super bowl champions. The main culprit? A stagnant offense that has lacked life, consistency, and any signs of encouragement through the majority of the three games they have played.

Here is where the 49ers' offense currently ranks:

Points scored - 28th

Total yards - 23rd

Passing yards - 29th

Rushing yards per attempt - 13th

3rd down conversion rate - 20th

Here is where the 49ers' defense is currently ranked:

Points allowed - 3rd

Total defense - 2nd

Passing defense - 1st

Rushing yards per attempt - 3rd

3rd down conversion rate - 9th

Sunday night in Denver was the ultimate illustration of how far this offense has to go to catch up to the best defense the 49ers have had in at least a decade.

The 49ers defense forced the Broncos offense to go three and out NINE times, yet it was all for not as the 49ers offense couldn’t sustain any kind of consistency to capitalize on a Denver offense that was stalled out for the majority of the game.

The 49ers' offense went 1-for-10 on third down in this game, including not being able to convert on their first nine attempts. Fifty-five minutes of game time eclipsed before the 49ers were able to move the chains on a third down.

The 49ers' offense had 13 possessions in Denver, and 12 lasted five plays or less. The only drive to eclipse five plays was a 6-play 75-yard drive that ended in a touchdown. That drive ended with 7:56 remaining in the first quarter.

In the remaining 52 minutes, the 49ers' offense could only score three points on their next ten possessions. Those points came on a drive that started at the Broncos' 41-yard line and lasted only three plays before Robbie Gould drilled a 51-yard field goal.

Except for the lone touchdown drive, the 49ers' offense was an unmitigated disaster in Denver. The lone bright spot from that putrid performance is that they were so awful it would be near impossible to be any worse moving forward.

While we have seen Kyle Shanahan’s offense struggle to find a rhythm early in the season during his tenure with the 49ers, I can’t recall a time where they looked as lost as they did in Denver.

On the optimistic side, we have seen Shanahan and this offense rebound from a slow start and make a push to the playoffs just last season. There is still plenty of time to figure things out, but they cannot afford to drop games like the one they did to the Broncos.

Taking a bit of time out of the gate to work out the kinks on offense is understandable. However, losing games where the defense only allows nine points is simply unacceptable, and something the 49ers can’t afford to do if they are going to capitalize on a roster that is capable of contending this season.