The San Francisco 49ers dropped their third consecutive game on Sunday, losing a 31-17 battle to the Cincinnati Bengals where issues arose on both sides of the field, leading to their largest deficit of the season.
It was a defensive struggle to begin the game, as quarterback Joe Burrow had a stretch of 19 consecutive completions, eventually hitting 28/32 of his passes in an efficient game.
The 49ers struggled to contain the Bengals, who had four different opportunities to score in the first half, but came away with just 14 points due to a missed field goal and a fumble in the redzone.
However, in the second half, the 49ers’ offense faltered, turning the ball over three times, missing the necessary consistency to keep up with the Bengals.
Over the past few weeks, defensive coordinator Steve Wilks has been under fire for his handling of the team’s talent, but that isn’t the only area where the 49ers are struggling.
In addition to the defensive woes, the 49ers, frankly, just haven’t been scoring, putting up 17 points in three consecutive games.
What’s been the issue offensively for the 49ers?
Speaking after the game, head coach Kyle Shanahan shifted the blame away from Wilks, putting some accountability on the offense as well.
“This isn’t on any one coach or any one side of the ball,” Shanahan said about the team’s recent struggles. “We haven’t scored over 20 points here in three weeks too. So, I think our defense needs to do better. I think our offense needs to do better. I think our team needs to do better. And when I say our team, I mean every single player in there and I mean every single coach.”
Looking into some of the woes, Shanahan pointed to the lack of space in the run game, taking some accountability himself for shying away from that area.
“Yeah, we haven’t been able to create as much space in the run game. I got away from it a little bit there in the second half,” Shanahan said. “And also I think we ended up three of eight on third down, which you’ve got to do better on third down to be able to get that going.”
“I thought we had a couple chances for creases. The guys make a tackle and just missed those. We had a couple good runs, especially the first one of the third quarter. We had a holding call, one on the first one of the game that got us into second-and-one and then the next two runs don’t move the chains for us to go three-and-out on the opening play of an eight-and-a-half yard run. So, got to get some better looks, got to run better, block better and just do better as a team.”
The 49ers have dealt with inopportune turnovers in the past few games, turning the ball over twice in the redzone with Christian McCaffrey’s fumble last week and Brock Purdy’s interception this week.
Add that to the bevy of takeaways that the 49ers have given up recently, and the mistakes have piled up, leading to a talented team exhibiting sloppy play.
The issues are fixable, and the 49ers have actually seen some sustained offensive drives, but they’ll need to clean up the turnovers, while remaining two-dimensional.
Luckily for them, the bye week provides a chance for the talented unit to regroup, while several stars like running back Christian McCaffrey and left tackle Trent Williams can rehab their injuries in the hopes of being at full strength in Week 10 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.