Five keys to watch in 49ers’ matchup against Bucs

Will the 49ers play hard in their final home game before the bye week? Do the players still care about this season? Or have they already quit on head coach Chip Kelly?

These are the questions that will determine the outcome of Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers.

Click here to read the rest of my column.

This article has 61 Comments

  1. So lets say DeForrest improves his gap integrity, what about the rest of the DL? Seems like he’s not the only one with an issue there. How much is coaching and scheme here?

    1. It’s a mistake to blame the 49ers porous run defense on rookie DE Deforest Buckner. Buckner has been one of the 49ers top defenders this season. As a matter of fact, Buckner, Armstead & Dial have all graded out well per PFF.

      Last week the 49ers defense was GASHED for 313 on the ground VS Buffalo, although 79 of those yards came by way lost containment of a very mobile pair of QB’s (led by Tyrod Taylor’s 68 yards). However, according to PFF, 3 of the top 5 defensive performances against Buffalo were all along the DL (DL Arik Armstead +79.5- 2nd best, DT Quinton Dial +76.1- 3rd best, & DE DeForest Buckner +73.1- 4th best). CB Tramaine Brock lead the way with a spectacular day, as he only allowed one catch for three yards while also breaking up a pass and earning a +83.9 grade. Keith Reaser (former ACL pick) rounded out the top 5 with a fantastic performance primarily in the slot (+71.0).

      In fact, Deforest Buckner has played consistently well this season, and absolutely living up to his hype! According to PFF, Buckner has graded out as a top 10 rookie this season, and he is their top ROOKIE 3-4 Interior Lineman through the first 6 weeks!

      The 49ers struggles against the run can be attributed to poor ILB play, as well as a struggling NT Mike Purcell (and a rusty Glenn Dorsey in limited action). ILB’s Nick Bellore and Michael Willhoite have been BRUTAL! Purcell is not a starting caliber NT, and our 2 ILB are, without question the worst 3-4 ILB tandem in the entire league.

      Players to watch today:

      1) GERALD HODGES: Hodges started through the first 3 weeks, and showed flashes of brilliance, however he also missed a few key assignments that resulted in big plays for the opponents. Unfortunately, Hodges found himself in the doghouse for undisclosed reasons and has played only 14 snaps over the last 3 games. Keep an eye on Hodges as he is the 49ers only ILB athletic enough to make a difference.

      2) CK7: Kaepernick played better than I expected last week despite gusting winds. It’s a tall challenge to start your first game of the season, on the road, in gusting wind conditions (25 mph wind gusts), against one of the hottest teams in the league. Today will be a much better gauge as to where Colin is at with this offense right now.

      3) MIKE DAVIS, DuJUAN HARRIS & SHAUN DRAUGHN: The 49ers will be without El Guapo today, and will lean on the rest of their stable of RB’s against a Bucs defense that ranks near the middle of the pack in rushing defense. I’d like to see Harris get some opportunities today as I am baffled that he hasn’t been afforded that opportunity considering Draughn’s pedestrian 2.1 YARD AVG. I was adamant before the start of the season that Harris was the far more explosive RB compared to Draughn. Harris was the better RB last season, and by a fairly large margin, and, though I understand the dynamics of having a backup RB with a skillset that compliments Hyde, if I were in charge of this roster, Harris would have started the season as the 49ers #2, followed by Davis, and then Draughn. I’d even be in favor of promoting KELVIN TAYLOR in place of Draughn, because I know who the 49ers have with in Draughn, and I think there is a good chance Taylor has a higher ceiling.

      4) KAEPERNICK to KERLEY: Keep an eye on whether these 2 guys can develop the type of chemistry Jeremy Kerley had with Blaine Gabbert. Colin needs a go-to receiver who he can count on finding soft spots in the defense, and get himself open on a regular basis.

      5) THE TWIN TOWERS: Despite his injury, which is clearly hampering his ability to “stack and shed”, ARIK ARMSTEAD has consistently graded out well in his second season. Boy would I love to have seen a healthy Armstead dominate the opposition the way he appeared to be dominating in camp prior to his shoulder injury. But Arik has still been one of the few bright spots along the front 7, along with his compadre, rookie DeFOREST BUCKNER. Despite Grants questionable analysis, Buckner has been living up to the lofty expectations. He’s been PFF’s top 3-4 rookie DE so far this season and, along with a healthy Armstead, Buckner represents the type of young building blocks the 49ers were hoping they would be, and these 2 will need to lay the foundation of a young, fearsome defense (along with a very talented young group of DB’s) which the 49ers braintrust (whoever that is, and hopefully it’s not Baalke) can build around.

  2. You continue to pine away for a coach and players this team just doesn’t have.

    ESPN ranked them dead last amongst 122 professional franchises for a reason.

    To quote the great Herm Edwards…they are who we thought they were.

    They aren’t who you want them to be.

    1. Denise should call 1-800-Larry Ellison, pronto ! ..

      (u-hhh .. ya know .. just in case …
      he’s still interested ! )

      Should that be on the first banner to fly
      over the stadium ?

        1. Of all their RBs, I think Harris is the best one to run the Zone Read. Maybe the Hyde injury is a blessing in disguise, because Harris will be allowed to shine.

  3. Letting fangio go was biggest mistake jed made,after firing harbs of course….top defense and was even willing to be DC under certain hc ‘s….all that experience…and respect around league…..
    Man I miss our good defense!

  4. 1. I totally agree with Grant about Dujuan Harris. I wanted him to make the 53, but he was cut.

    2. Maybe they should not rely on a rookie, and play their veterans. Maybe they should play Dial, Dorsey and Armstead, with Lynch and Harold as the OLBs.

    3. since the Bills ran for 312 yards, they will go heavy with the runs, until the Niners can stop them. Hope Skov and Hodges play.

    4. Grant must be trolling me, because I have been advocating that for years. I hope they accentuate his strengths by using a man in motion to pinch in the DE and let Kaep roll out. Naked bootlegs should be executed, too, but infrequently so it is unexpected.

    I also hope they do more double moves, with long bombs on third down.

    5. I hope the Niners can build up a 3 score lead, then have Kaep show class and leadership, and have him tell Chip to let Gabbert play in the 4th quarter.

      1. Cassie, you know me. I have been begging and pleading for them to utilize Kaep correctly, but it sure seems like they are ignoring my posts. Hence the 1-5 record.

        Here is another play they should execute. Kaep should look left, pump fake left, even point left, then he should quickly pivot and heave the ball down the right side line to a streaking Torrey, who first ran 5 steps, did a stutter step, then took off.

  5. I just saw my favorite choice for qb the niners should take next season.
    Texas Tech’ Patrick Mahomes ll.
    Kid has a great touch, good pocket awareness, accuracy and a big arm. He’s also got that sandlot knack about him. I like him.

      1. Me too, but with vision and touch. He dropped some nice downfield throws and outs yesterday. Serious arc on those passes. Something Kap can’t do.

      1. Chip needs an accurate QB. Trubisky sports a 70% completion percentage with only two picks. I still like Kizer better, his ability to pass and run makes him a dream QB for Chip.

        If we can’t get Kizer, Garroppolo, or Garret I think the Niners should take a chance and make Trubisky a top 5 pick.

    1. Arg. They are risking their number one WR. Just like they did Ellington. Maybe they do not have a clue.

      They should have kept DeAndrew White.

    2. He has not done a thing since coming to SF. Why not let him return punts and kickoffs? Let’s see how useless he really is!

  6. Predictions?

    9ers 24, Bucs 26


    QB – D
    WR – C
    RB – D
    TE – C
    OL – D
    DL – C
    LB – D
    DB – C
    Coaching – D

      1. I want a better outcome, but I’m thinking this is where we’re at. Little gets better until the Yorks have a fundamental transformation as owners, or they sell the team.

        1. Cassie ..

          Well … we’re doomed.. then ..

          Denise won’t fire her kid …NOR
          will she sell the team ..

          Welcome to the pits !

          1. Well, according to Seb there’s a tank in a pit, but we won’t go there…

            Hoping Jed/Denise develop enough awareness to hire a strong, knowledgeable, respected team President, along with a strong and capable GM, then on to coach… Then, get the ‘stuff’ out of the way!

            Waiting for banners to begin flying.

            1. “…Hoping Jed/Denise develop enough awareness to hire a strong, knowledgeable, respected team President,…”

              Cassie ..

              ya know what they say …

              ” … wish in one hand …”

              Denise and Jedster remain …

              “Clueless in Santa Clara”

  7. I’m going to say this team has no confidence due to many factors… Part of that is Chip and his ‘schemes’… Part of it is due to this team being made up of softies with no leadership (including FO/ownership) and a big part is due to lack of a QB that can help lead this team to wins. Until this team and FO are blown up and rebuilt from the ground up, I expect the blowouts and head hanging to continue week after week.

    Jed York, you and your team are a bunch of losers full of leaks on a sinking ship… Aka the worst franchise in sports as some would say and that is getting hard to disagree with.

  8. Time for Jed to hand out the pink slips:
    GM: Check
    HC: Check
    DC: Check

    Battle field promotions:
    Gamble Temp GM: Check
    OC to Temp HC: Check
    OLB coach to temp DC: Check

    Contract extension Ponder (one more season): Check
    Release Kaep: Check
    Job done

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