The 49ers lost a grueling primetime game to the Denver Broncos Sunday night. However, head coach Kyle Shanahan should have positive and negative takeaways after watching his team battle in a playoff-like atmosphere. Let’s look at what we learned from Week 3 below.
What more can DeMeco Ryans do?
The Broncos are the only NFL team in the last 30 years to win a game despite having at least eight more 3-and-outs than their opponent.
Ryans’ defense forced ten punts. Nine drives ended with a 3-and-out. Denver was held to a measly 3.1 yards per carry on 33 attempts, a Javonte Williams’ 16-yard rush being the longest of the day. The secondary did a respectable job of limiting explosive passes. Courtland Sutton’s 34-yard reception came on a crosser against man coverage, a tough ask for cornerbacks. Kendall Hinton’s 22-yard catch was the result of a short scramble drill.
Through the first three weeks, San Francisco ranks third in scoring defense and second in yardage allowed. The entire unit has been playing lights out to start the season. And yet, they’re staring down the barrel of a potential 1-3 start.
3.9 yards per play is hilarious. For context, the 85 Bears gave up 4.4 yards per play. The 2000 Ravens were at 4.3. https://t.co/BYGOD2OUMe— Kyle Madson (@KyleAMadson) September 27, 2022
Next week, they take on their division rival Los Angeles Rams, and must find ways to sever the connection between Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp. It’s likely going to require another massive performance from the defense to keep the game within reach.
He is who we thought he was.
Sunday’s loss is exactly why I said the weight would be on Jimmy Garoppolo’s shoulders going forward. It comes with being the quarterback. They receive the blame because they have control of the offense. His absence from the preseason games and training camp has taken a toll on the timing with his receivers.
Missing Deebo Samuel in stride cost him a walk-in touchdown. The Niner’s offense could not capitalize on the 37-yard gain, letting a big momentum swing slip through their hands.
Garoppolo’s gaffe out the back of the end zone was the difference in the game. The boneheaded move was inexcusable, but Shanahan did him no favors by calling a halfback screen on San Francisco’s two-yard line.
On what was an opportunity for a game-winning drive, Garoppolo threw to a crowded Samuel against Cover 1 Robber, a coverage that he has historically struggled to read. This week was no different. His game-sealing interception was deflating and also imparted the feeling that the Niners’ offensive ceiling is just not high. They needed a spark from their quarterback in the fourth quarter to jump-start an anemic offense, and Garoppolo could not deliver.
Running game hemmed up, penalties and turnovers
Jeff Wilson’s 37-yard run skewed San Francisco’s total of 4.6 yards per carry. Broncos’ defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero neutralized Shanahan’s run game with bear fronts and bringing safeties down to load the box. Denver’s defense also took away San Francisco’s big play ability by keying in on Deebo Samuel when he was in the backfield.
San Francisco toned down the penalties to seven Sunday (four on offense and three on defense) for 40 yards. The yardage is down from last week, but the penalties on offensive halted drives. Jake Brendel, Mike McGlinchey, and Spencer Burford all had penalties. The offensive line will have to grow even tighter with Trent Williams sidelined.
This is the second week in a row we have seen a bad center-quarterback exchange. Garoppolo recovered last week’s fumble, but Robbie Gould’s kick was blocked and returned for a touchdown the next play.
This week’s fumble was on the second half’s opening drive that killed momentum after a Broncos 3-and-out. I spoke on Garoppolo’s interception, which leaves Shanahan’s offense turning the ball over on consecutive drives to end the game. This was brutal to watch. The game was already a slugfest, and the two turnovers to finish the game just took the life out of any happiness for the season. I am being a bit dramatic, but this team should be more disciplined with a Super Bowl-caliber roster.