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Will the 49ers make better offensive adjustments against the Lions?

Yes, losing the wide back was not ideal, but the 49ers need to prepare for disaster against the Lions

NFC Divisional Playoffs - Green Bay Packers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

When Deebo Samuel went out in the first quarter of the San Francisco 49ers NFC Divisional playoff game against the Green Packers, you could hear the groans from Levi’s stadium. After all, there are times Deebo Samuel steps up and is the 49ers offense. The whole question has been how good is Brock Purdy without Samuel, Christian McCaffrey, Brandon Aiyuk, and others.

It got worse when the rain poured and balls went all over the field from Brock Purdy’s arm. One second you see the glove on him, another second you don’t.

If only the fans knew the 49ers didn’t have a backup plan. At least, not immediately. The groans would have been heard from the moon. Especially when you think of how much preparation time Kyle Shanahan had.

It was obvious that the 49ers’ offensive gameplan had a healthy dose of Samuel. That got jettisoned after he injured his shoulder. One drive where the 49ers scramble to adjust is one thing. But with Jauan Jennings getting blown up on the very first 49ers offensive play of the third quarter seems a bit of an oversight for a playoff game with the season on the line.

This was clearly a mistake. Shanahan said he made the playcall from the wristband, that thing on Purdy’s arm (Shanahan says a number, Purdy looks on the wristband and the play is there). The wristband called for “Hessi,” which is Deebo in the offense. And Shanahan forgot to tell Purdy to not read “Hessi.”

How no one from upstairs or on the offensive staff had the awareness to warn Shanahan of Deebo playcalls during halftime, or yell for a time out is strange, but the offense goes through Shanahan. So while a finger can be pointed elsewhere, it ultimately lays upon him.

Furthermore, even eliminating Samuel, that still leaves Purdy shooting balls through the rain. Keep in mind, there wasn’t much of Christian McCaffrey for a long while in that game.

Purdy managed to put together a drive for the ages when it mattered and the 49ers emerged victorious, but we all know this could have quickly spun the other way thanks to lack of adjustments to the gameplan. And really, it didn’t need to even get to that point. Yes, the defense was uninspiring, but the offense seemed to be hit or miss most of the night.

Is Shanahan so dedicated to his gameplan that he cannot adjust the scheme to the elements? This isn’t two quarterbacks being injured. What happens if Christian McCaffrey is the focal point against the Lions Sunday and his calf acts up in the first quarter? Do they line Jordan Mason up at wide receiver to go deep by accident?

For those of you who think the lack of Samuel impacts Purdy on its own, The Athletic’s David Lombardi posted some numbers on X: 49ers offense average 32 points per last season with Purdy and without Samuel (games where Samuel was injured). When Purdy wasn’t dealing with a broken rib, they averaged 37 points.

The issue without Samuel Saturday wasn’t the lack of him, it was the lack of planning on the coaching staff for not adjusting without him or even considering disaster. And that lack of planning could have ended their season. Fans concluded after the Packers win and the Cleveland Browns loss that Purdy had issues in the rain. That’s twice they’ve seen it. The 49ers see this type of thing every day and yet Purdy is throwing it over 30 times.

And the 49ers are capable of this. When Jimmy Garoppolo came in for an injured Trey Lance in 2022, the gameplan was thrown out. You didn’t see Garoppolo doing power runs up the middle against the Seattle Seahawks.

Now don’t mistake anything here: losing Deebo Samuel definitely swings things. No one is saying the 49ers don’t need him. Furthermore there is no argument that Purdy did not help matters when Samuel went to the sideline. What to stay positive about is should he not play (and all indications say he’ll be suiting upcross your fingers), the 49ers don’t transform into the Chicago Bears.

Should the perfect disaster strike and take out a focal point of the gameplan Sunday, can the 49ers keep things on the rails? Or will we see the offense sputter drive after drive with no alternative when there are clear issues on the field? One play could be all the difference. Are you even concerned if this were to happen again?