49ers 27, Chargers 29: Grades

San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh speaks to reporters after a practice at the team’s NFL football training facility in Santa Clara, Calif., Wednesday, May 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Here are the 49ers grades following their 29-27 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

BEATHARD: B-plus. He played better than anyone could have expected. He was accurate, he passed for 298 yards, completed two touchdown passes, made plays on third down, played most of the game without a running game or left tackle Joe Staley, led the 49ers back from a nine-point deficit and avoided about seven sacks. Beathard did his job. But, the 49ers asked him to do too much. Exposed him too many times to the Chargers defense. So, he threw two picks. The first one wasn’t his fault, and the second one may not have been his fault, either. But someone was bound to make a mistake the more the 49ers passed. Their passing game has been out of sync all season.

RUNNING BACKS: B. Both Matt Breida and Alfred Morris played well, but carried the ball only 13 times combined. And, they rarely ran from an I-formation featuring fullback Kyle Juszczyk as the lead blocker. When he was the lead blocker, the running backs generally ran well. What’s the point of making Juszczyk the highest-paid fullback in the NFL if the 49ers hardly use him as a blocker? So strange.

WIDE RECEIVERS: B-minus. Pierre Garcon and Kendrick Bourne stepped up. Garcon had 52 receiving yards, and Bourne made a touchdown catch in the red zone. The rest of the 49ers receivers didn’t show up. Dante Pettis injured his knee. Trent Taylor was invisible.

TIGHT ENDS: C-minus. George Kittle gets an A-plus. He made an 82-yard touchdown catch, and clearly is the 49ers’ go-to guy in the passing game. Garrett Celek gets an F-minus-minus-minus. He committed two holding penalties (one on special teams), and dropped a pass at the Chargers’ 2-yard line, and tipped that pass to a Chargers defender, who intercepted the ball and returned it to the 49ers 12-yard line. Celek lost the game.

OFFENSIVE LINE: C-plus. Joe Staley left the game during the second quarter with a knee injury and didn’t return. Weston Richburg, Mike Person and Mike McGlinchey all played hurt. Give them credit for that.

DEFENSIVE LINE: F-plus. Solomon Thomas did nothing. DeForest Buckner did nothing. Arik Armstead did nothing. Earl Mitchell did nothing. Cassius Marsh did nothing. Ronald Blair did nothing. The only defensive lineman who did something was backup Sheldon Day, who recorded the one sack of the game for the 49ers.

LINEBACKERS: C-minus. Reuben Foster and Fred Warner were the best players on the field for the 49ers defense. They combined to make 17 tackles, and Foster hit Philip Rivers twice. But, Foster also gave the Chargers seven points when he played the wrong coverage in the red zone. He played zone while the rest of the 49ers played man to man. Inexcusable mistake. Warner also gave up a touchdown catch, but he wasn’t at fault. He had to line up in press-man coverage with no safety help and cover a fast running back who was lined up at wide receiver. Warner had no chance. He should have been playing off the line of scrimmage, and should have had safety help. That’s on defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. More on him below.

SAFETIES: C. The 49ers played both of their backup safeties – D.J. Reed and Antone Exum Jr. – and they couldn’t tackle to save their lives. But, Exum intercepted Rivers and returned the ball for a touchdown. He recorded the first and only interception of the season for the 49ers. He gets major credit for that play.

CORNERBACKS: C. At least they kept the Chargers wide receivers out of the end zone. Backup Greg Mabin played particularly well, compared to Ahkello Witherspoon and Jimmie Ward. The latter got benched.

SPECIAL TEAMS: F-plus. The 49ers gave up a 56-yard punt return that led to a field goal just before halftime in a game they lost by two points. Bad. At least Robbie Gould made all of his field-goal attempts, as usual.

COACHES: C. Kyle Shanahan motivated his team to play hard on the road, and made it believe it could win without Jimmy Garoppolo. And it almost won. Shanahan nearly pulled off the most impressive victory of his career as a head coach. But, he didn’t. And he deserves a large portion of the blame for the loss. He called 44 passes and only 14 runs. He scored just one touchdown in his four trips to the red zone. He called just three runs in the red zone. He gave the Chargers three points at the end of the first half when he got cute, called three-straight passes with 47 seconds left, went three-and-out, burned just 17 seconds off the clock and gave the ball back to the Chargers, who kicked a field goal before halftime. He also wasted two timeouts in the second half by challenging the wrong plays. He called five-man protections practically the entire game and almost got Beathard injured. The final five-man protection led to the sack which led to the interception which ended the game. Shanahan also hired defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, who is failing. His Seattle-Seahawks style defense is a played-out fad, and the 49ers personnel isn’t suited to run it. The free safety simply isn’t good enough, and neither is the four-man pass rush. After the season, if the 49ers defense continues to struggle, Shanahan should fire Saleh and hire an experienced defensive coordinator. I suggest John Fox.

This article has 186 Comments

    1. Some of us have pointed that out along with Saleh being out of his element as a DC. Both areas are a major weakness for this team and should be dealt with if Shanahan wants to be successful.

  1. I’m worried about all the injuries, they keep piling up.
    The way Beathard is playing will make us look for another QB soon. Too many hits.

  2. 49er problems…

    GM lynch is a fraud……this guy only signs or draft whoever Kyle tells him….

    Kyle S – this is too much for him….great offense but overthinks too much……

    Saleh- please fire this idiot now….he already admitted he is a copy cat with no fresh ideas….

    This team sucks….we are worse than the 2017 Browns….

    Why again did we rush to let legit players go….Reid, Brown, Harold……yeah they were not great but they were consistent and played tough…..

    Why the Fk did we draft berthard?

    It’s so freaking obvious the guy is slow asf….

    Please give me room to seat on the Solomon Thomas is bust train….the guy is pathetic

    LB Warner needs a better coach…..

    All those missed tackles are no longer funny….this is ridiculous….never has my team been this terrible in tackling…

    We are too young and not tough enough…….

    Kyle’s arrogance and lack of a reasonable voice to disagree with him is killing us…..

    MFs just wasted a whole season…….this team makes me want to puke….

    1. Wow oneniner, I actually agree with you. Now, Jed York, will you please sell the football team already? The missed tackling makes this team a high school team. Hope in two years they dump Kyle when he doesn’t produce that Superbowl.

    2. Sweet. Go puke somewhere else. Just giving you a hard time, but in all seriousness, tell me how many teams would be competitive without their starting QB, without their starting RB, 2 backups in the 2ndary, 1-3 starting OL missing portions of the game, and 2 banged up backup (now starting) RBs… all that from a base roster that most realistic fans would acknowledge was still 1 or more years away from being fully competitive. Not saying that mistakes haven’t been made, or that there isn’t room for improvement, but to pull the plug now and call the whole thing a failure at this point is, in my mind at least, flat out ridiculous.

      1. Some perspective is nice. Oneniner jumped off the cliff with that post. Jeez. Some were predicting the Chargers have championship aspirations. The niners have been in every game against tough competition with all the injuries you listed. This is year two of the rebuild and today was first game without starting QB. It’s obviously more fun to watch victories but being competitive is a big plus right now during the rebuild. Niners are nowhere close to as bad as the Browns of last year. Niners will probably get crushed by the Rams, but so will most teams. But, the other rival games are winnable.

      2. Stop using excuses, MT9er. The entire problem is tHE OWNER of the SF 49ers that NEEDS to sell and get rid of the team. FACTS: SF Giants sold, 3 world series wins. FACT GS Warriors sold, they have 3 championships in 5 years! Other then political stances, I don’t take away the skill Kerr has had for his GS Warriors team. The 49ers don’t have that and never have had that with coaching, players, schemes, and what not. QB can’t throw 300. WR can’t get 100. Oline is hurt. Defense is garbage. Secondary is a MASH unit, and when you are through using those excuses, refs do the F job and you whine about what wasn’t called. I would pull the plug and FULLY URGE for the team to score multiple high draft picks and get a real QB. Now I’m not saying throw out Jimmy G, just yet, but if you draft a QB, you sit him out for 3 years, you start Jimmy G.

        For years when we had Alex Smith, I kept bEGGING get him an Oline, get him WRs, but the 49ers never did that and they wind up dumping Smith for the kneel down artist.

        Jed York, sell the 49ers. Get out.

        1. I’ve learned over the years that it’s tough to have rational conversations with irrational folks (and I’vebeen on both sides). So Darren, I think we’ll probably have to simply agree to disagree. Enjoy your puking.

          1. That’s why Mt9er I don’t watch the game, I don’t care for the game. I’ll go to NFL’s site. I’ll go to the SF gate. I’ll even come here just to tick you fools off. BOttom line is I gave you the map and the detail of your constant failings so if you want to keep drinking the kool aid and IGNORE SOME JUDGE JUDY stats on your team, that’s your loss. I just enjoy seeing you FAIL until one day like the little liberals that you all are, you’ll say ‘hey, maybe Darren was right. Maybe it is the owner. Maybe if I stopped buying the team product, ticket, watching the game altogether, maybe the team or NFL may do something about it. Maybe the NFL can tell York he’s OUT as the owner.’ Far as I’m concerned, the fall season means nothing to me. Don’t care who gets to the SUperbowl, thanks to the Kap kneel downs, NOOOOOBODY watches it, ha ha ha! Remember this, MT9er, i’ve worked with tools and did some construction on my own. Enjoy your as the In LIving COlor would say LOWER EXPECTATIONS. I got odds by 3 year, Kyle will be OUT along with his BOY Jimmy G the backup.

    3. We’ll go ahead an puck. The rest of us are not only Niners fans,, we are more less rational which clearly something that can’t be said about you. Your diatribe makes no sense.

    4. Hey look who shows up again when the team struggles…oneniner…and his alter ego Darren.

      It’s so hilarious, nothing but negativity from you clowns. Been pulling this ish since Maiocco was running this forum, we’ve forgotten how many different screen names you’ve used but the trash posted is always the same.

      Y’all ain’t Niner fans, take your garbage back across the bay an be gone!

      1. Even if you won, eMJAY, your defense is still garbage like the Raiders. Raiders had to get officiating help to win their game, so did you vs. Detroit. THere’s no rule that says one has to be a fan DUMMY. There’s no SFGATE like rules about trolls and what not and reporting because this is a FREEDOM of speech and I think Donald J Trump is the most wonderful president we ever have. I enjoyed seeing Beathard throw that pick. THat was a great way to throw your game away DUMMY! Keep losing baby, but I am being generous. You might get 4 to 5 wins, you might just beat Arizona in our division.

  3. I would give the running backs a C, because they gained only 75 yards.
    .
    If you gave the LBs a C-, the safeties and CBs deserve no better.
    .
    I Think the ST grade is a little harsh. Gould made all of his kicks, so D is fair overall.
    .
    I would give the coaches a D. They got off to a great start, but could not make the proper adjustments. They were out coached, and made poor decisions. The offense should have been more balanced. Game management thwarted any opportunity for a possible comeback. They may have motivated the players, but they did a terrible job preparing them. KS had a very winnable game, and let it slip away.

    1. QB gets a D
      RB gets a D minus to an F
      Defense all around an F plus
      Special Teams is near an F
      Coaching gets an F
      Fire Saleh, should’ve been dumped last year.

      1. A lot of good things happened on that field today. The Chargers know they were in a game today. Our players played their asses off and they all deserve a little respect.

        It used to be when someone threw a tantrum they were sent to their room. Now adults do it on Social media.

        1. Consider the source.
          .
          I gave better and worse grades, but that is just my opinion. I think that the TE grade could be elevated, because of Kittle’s TD.
          .
          I agree. The Niners fought hard, had a big lead and was leading in the 4th quarter. They certainly do not deserve Fs.
          .
          However, the disappointment of losing a winnable game does sting a bit. Hopefully, this is another teachable moment.

          1. You dont even understand the concept of teachable moment. You havent been taught anything in years, despite a knowledgeable poster base on this blog, incessantly trying to inform you and increase your football IQ.
            Your grade? A+, that’s what rational people do for people with special needs, like yourself

            1. Eel, did you ever read that I counseled the Niners to consider time outs to be precious, and used for LEGITIMATE challenges and the last 2 minutes of each half?
              .
              Guess KS wanted to prove me wrong….AGAIN.
              .
              Special needs? Sounds like you are an expert on special needs, especially after declaring you would scroll past my posts. But then again, you just can’t help yourself. Yes, you are very special.

              1. Eel, you may say it is common sense, but the Niners wasted time outs like a drunken sailor. Very poor game management. I will continue to advocate for common sense, and hope they will finally learn their lesson.
                .
                I hope you will admit that the Chargers would not have kneeled down 3 times if the Niners had considered those time outs to be precious, and saved them to stop the clock.

            2. Eel, KS. He all but stood up and declared that he did not like any negativity in the press because it upset the players. Got to read the press, in order to make sense of that declaration.
              .
              Eddie Debartolo also declared that he never read the newspapers. Then, years later, when Grant interviewed him, he admitted he read every word. Those columns of Lowell’s really upset him, but Eddie was cool, and never let us see him sweat. Just like the present Niners should do, also.
              .
              JG’s response was best. He said that they never pay attention to what is written, because it is a distraction from what they should be studying. He should have also said that it is the media’s job to write stuff that is a bit hyped, just to get attention. He should have said that it is just their job, and not to take anything personally. Heaven’s forbid actually getting rattled or irate from the printed word. If a column can get a player rattled, imagine what another team would do to him.

  4. Grant-

    Nailed the grades. Especially the coaching assessment. Saleh isn’t innovative at all. This isn’t a star-studded defense by any stretch but there are enough A game players to at least make it competitive. Love the idea of bringing in John Fox. Look at what Sean Mcvay is doing with Wade Phillips! Shanahan needs to take notice. Speaking of the offense-savant…you’re 100% right, waaaaaaay too many pass plays called. Play to your strength. The running game is tops in the league, why not utilize it more? Especially to take pressure off CJB who may not make it to the bye week without getting injured. Which leads me to:
    What’s with all the injuries?!?!? In almost 4 decades of watching football I’ve never seen anything like this.
    What is going on with the strength and conditioning staff???? How is this not a blatantly obvious issue??

    1. Did you guys with your rants stop to think that Chargers D was stacking the box and dared the 9ers to beat them with the pass? Thats what I would have done………..

      Did you objectively think that they would have won this game except for a particular goat named Celek–who really stunk it up? Not sure whats happened to that guy…………………

  5. I’m only on board with hiring Fox if he signs an agreement that he wont take another HC job for at least 5 years after signing with us. I’m tired of the same old story of a good coordinator/bad head coach that wants to be a head coach again so he takes on a coordinator job, finds a bunch of success(because that’s what he’s good at) and then immediately tries to parlay that into another HC gig.

    I’m done with renting good coaches for a season.

  6. Saleh needs to be fired. Beathard is not and never will be a starting QB. The 49ers should finish 1 and 15, but I’ll be a nice guy and say 4 to 5 wins. See? I was honest now. Defense is still garbage. I predict CJB to be out by game 8 and Mullens out by game 12 and QB of the week will be inserted. It was a great game, glad the Chargers won and kept the park nice for the Raiders when they play in it next year since Oakland is giving them the boot. It makes up for the Raiders game, officiating was a flop, Lynch should’ve been flagged for kicking the ball. Hue Jackson got screwed in Jokeland again. Glad the Browns don’t have to come back for 3 years to play the Faiders.

  7. a-hhh … can’t believe I’m sayin’ this .. but Grant…
    I agree with all of your grades !!

    (also like the “no snark” … just tell it like it is bud ..)

    Good job on this one

    1. Hey buddy, how about them NINERS, wa hoo. Found another way to get lower expectations. Can’t wait to see QB of the week the way the Oline can’t stay healthy. I hope the 49ers draft a QB. Now, in drafting a QB, hear me out, we still play out Jimmy G for 3 years, then insert our new QB after we get a decent Oline.

  8. These grades are spot on. Beathard played good. I just don’t get why Shanahan hates the guy so much. Whenever he plays Shanny forgets to run the ball.

    1. Yep, hates Beathard so much he has the confidence to put the ball in his hands against a box loaded against the run. What is he thinking.

  9. Coffee’s for Closers® says:
    October 26, 2017 at 7:33 pm
    “The third down package never really got to come to fruition. But, we were really excited about our plan going in. It showed. They lived on third and one and third and two and that kind of thwarted our plan.”

    https://media.giphy.com/media/ADr35Z4TvATIc/giphy.gif

    There are just so many things wrong with those statements. This guy is in over his head.
    ———————-
    Said it last year and he’s done nothing to change my perception. Saleh’s in over his head. Yes, he has no talent in the backfield but there’s no excuse for this front 7 to give up 6.9(6.3 still after you subtract the long run) yards per carry.

    He’s not ready to run a defense by himself. He doesn’t appear to know how to utilize his players to their maximum.

    1. I forget what game or player it was last season but Saleh alluded to some special plan he had for the game to contain the other teams big weapon and all it ended up being was to double team him. It’s like a body swap movie where Saleh is actually a 16 year old kid who knows nothing about football and somewhere there’s a 16 year old kid that’s killing it on his team.

    2. Folgers Coffee-

      I think your right-that front 7 of the 9er D seems to be less than the sum of their parts. I don’t think those guys on the D-line are as productive as they could be.

  10. I’ve said the same thing. Guys who should be gone are Saleh and the Conditioning coach! He’s probably from a 24hr fitness club.

  11. The big losers today were the Seahawks. The day began with chatter of a possible deal that involved sending Earl Thomas and likely a 2nd round pick to the Steelers for Bell.

  12. Was pissed when we didn’t get fangio back and hired a copy cat defensive coordinator….now I think coach is getting too cute with offense…potential is there but defensive coordinator gonna set us back couple years now after he gets fired…I’m hoping by week 8! Whoever fills in can do just as bad!
    5th worse 3rd down defense, and wonder what we giving up per carry,
    Or passing for that much.
    Please dumb it down for players…..
    I’m wondering if our 1st rounder is another defensive player in this year’s draft.
    Beathards improved but still does some dumb things that take away the good..
    Long season for us fans

  13. Celek cost the game. The drop that lead to a pick. All the gd holding calls on big plays…..
    I thought Beathard played better than I thought he would.

      1. Catfish

        Maybe now we’ll see Kittle and Cole Wick playing the TE spots…Wick is bigger, has better hands, is a better blocker, and plays faster than Celek…Celek has @ 1 decent game per season, and still gets a paycheck…wow… Dump him, along with Ward and Thomas…

    1. end of the half should have run the ball knowing they get the ball beginning of the third quarter, make san diego use their timeout and kick the ball in the corner not the middle of the field this is coaching, when at the eight yardline should have ran the ball after cj took some crushing hits roughing calls instead bean celek on this shoulder pad for the interception, also poor job have cj check down plays when derwing james was in the box having a decoy checkdown for him change the protection again coaching, saleh has worst tackling team in the NFL I’ve counted yesterday 12 missed tackles and for the year 38 missed for the season so I guess the violent strike first defense is a blinded one hand tie d behind the back one eye tackling Machine, oh and defensive numbers one’s buckner,soloman and armstead INVISIBLE DID THE CUPID SHUFFLE ALL DAY right now its a bust.

  14. KS the HC needs to exert veto power on all of the passes KS the OC calls because the game plan is so far out of balance; however, the genius of KS in play design and creativity never will get the props he wants if KS the OC calls more runs. Trying to prove his guru status as an innovative OC throwing the ball does not help in winning games nor does it do his defense any favors. KS the OC was terrible with clock management and play calling just before half time and unfortunately KS the HC was not smart enough to realize it.

  15. Maybe but when he was with us we had top 10 defense and tackled people! Defense carried some games, way better then what we got!
    Take over rated vs in over his head anyday

    1. He had two hall of fame players at crucial positions along with one of the best LB tandems in NFL history. I could have had a top 10 defense with those players. c

  16. Grant,

    You were right, Niners did “beat” the Fins by outscoring them!

    The undermanned and injured O line should get more appreciation. Gilliam and Persons played above their journeymen level. I thought the passing game opened up running lanes and expected Kyle to call more running plays.

    This is a young team at just too many positions. The inexperience shows up especially on defense, including that of the DC. A rookie has the green dot. With Sherman out, there is no veteran leadership on the field to get the attention of the players at critical plays. The defense will play better as the season progresses.

  17. Grades and reasons are fair enough. Am I crazy though or did Grant bitch previously that the Niners ran too much in the red zone and should pass more? That was good for a chuckle. Just sayin! Changing the defensive scheme won’t matter much if the players currently playing defense for this team either can’t, won’t, or don’t know how to tackle.

    1. “Am I crazy though or did Grant bitch previously that the Niners ran too much in the red zone and should pass more?”

      You’re loco one. He said the 49ers need to run more down there.

  18. I could see the reasoning if a player keeps whiffing, that it is the player’s fault.
    .
    However, when the whole defense pinballs off Gordon and cannot bring him down, then the problem is the coaching.
    .
    KS’s clock management in the last 2 minutes of the half kinda reminded me of his performance in the second half of the SB.
    .
    Yup, the Niners beat themselves, AGAIN.

    1. HaHa!!!

      ‘Ol Sebs with the bitterness of a weeping maple tree, seeping out of every orifice………..Kyle and the SB? We all know what that’s REALLY about……………..

  19. Team lacks discipline. Saleh states that they are teaching how to tackle and emphasizing it, yet the same problems continue week after week. KS tells CJB to get down and slide, yet CJB isn’t listening. Love CJB’s toughness, but he’s headed for an injury. Will they bring in another QB this week?

    1. “Saleh states that they are teaching how to tackle and emphasizing it”

      This directly contradicts what Shanahan said on the radio during the pregame show. Basically said they can’t tackle in practice and that they expect guys to be able to do it. If they can’t, they don’t belong.

      1. Didn’t listen to what KS said pregame. However, if he did say that, it pretty much contradicts what Saleh said in a presser this past week.

        People keep saying that Shanahan needs an OC. I think I said that as well last year. However, in an ideal world I think he really needs a HC. Sounds contradictory, but I think he is struggling as the HC. He’s a great OC and it’s the first time in decades that we’ve had a good offense despite the lack of stars. We would never have gotten KS unless he was made the HC. Still in this real world, the best thing would be to pair him with a very experienced DC. As Grant said Fox would be a good choice.

        Just to be clear, what I am saying is that Shanahan the OC is more than ready for prime time. Shanahan the HC is definitely a work in progress.

        1. He’s 20 games into his first HC job with an injury riddled roster. There are going to be growing pains for sure especially when there isn’t any HC experience on the staff as a whole. When the Niners were in the process of hiring Shanahan they looked at experienced DC’s – they wanted Fangio to come back and then tried to land Gus Bradley who chose the Chargers instead. What we are seeing is young Coaches in first time positions go through the process of learning how to do their jobs. Not surprising they are struggling in some capacity. The key is learning from the mistakes and how well they do that remains to be seen.

          1. Not disputing what you are saying. Last week I posted something similar. They didn’t have the opportunity to pair KS with an experienced DC last year, but at the end of last season I said they needed to get rid of Saleh and hire an experienced DC. The Rams did it the right way. The 49ers had the opportunity to do that starting with Season 2 of the KS era. I just don’t think Saleh is DC material.

      2. Jack,

        Teaching and emphasizing is different than actually tackling in practice. I don’t think any team has live tackling in practice anymore, not many anyway. You can teach technic and work the sled day after day, but nothing compares to game tackling situations. The Niners are one of the worst if not the worst, but tackling is terrible in the league overall right now and it is because teams are too worried about injuries to run live drills in practice.

        1. The poor tackling that I’m seeing from the 49ers is all about technique and angles, both things that can be worked on in live drills without taking anyone to the ground.

          The poor tackling on this team isn’t limited to the defense, it extends to the special teams as well.

          The punt team alone set up SD twice on back to back punts. First on the long return before half, and on the first punt to open the 2nd half they allowed a 20+ yard return to midfield and the guy ran through tackle after tackle. Add those two plays together with the Int and the D, while struggling the second quarter on wasn’t helped out much either.

          1. I’m not disagreeing with any of that. The point I made was the statements made by Shanahan and Saleh weren’t contradictory. They don’t do live tacking drills in practice which is what Shanahan seemed to be referencing, while Saleh said they teach and emphasize tackling which they likely are as much as you can without actually doing it.

            The Niners are bad but watch the Raiders tackling effort or lack there of on the two long TD runs by Nick Chubb yesterday. Tackling is optional around the league these days.

  20. Yup. 1-3 and the only viable chance they have for wins coming up are both games against Arizona, the Raiders, the Giants and the Bucs. They might be able to outscore those teams. That would put them at 6-10. No chance really of beating the Rams, Seahawks, Bears, Packers, or Broncos. More likely 5-11, 4-12. Yup.

    1. I had them at 8 games, because I thought the Bears and Broncos games were winnable. However, that was with JG.
      .
      Now, 5 games may be optimistic. Yup.

            1. As i told you years ago, Sebs, you simply don’t know how funny you are. I would be more than happy to be your agent……..We package you as a sort of modern day Don Rickles, as it were……….with a politically correct bent to it. We’d make millions!!!!!!!!!!

  21. Grant…. Good call on fox. Young head coaches make the mistake alot of times thinking they can win with young and inexperienced coaches. Well this young d needs a good experienced coach. Seattle’s fad is not even winning anymore, well Jacksonville is, Atl is kind of played out. Problem is, not any Earl Thomas players out there. Or Richard Sherman’s for that matter. That whole D had a chip on their shoulder. Will be awhile before a defense like that comes back. Only disagreement, I would fire him now. Let those boys learn his defense and be ready for a healthy next year, otherwise they will be learning something new again. One more thing, these injuries are killing these guys. Can’t truly evaluate a team, without the team

    1. I brought that up seven days ago.

      Slamd says:
      September 23, 2018 at 9:59 pm
      If I were the Niners, I’d bring John Fox in to coach defense. He could be Shanny’s version of Wade Phillips.

  22. But seriously why did we draft ⛹CJB?

    Cuz he obviously wasn’t drafted to be the franchise qb after 3 yrs…..

    even if they had planned to sign cousins or Jimmy…..oh wait they did sign Hoyer and planned for CJB to take over?

    This is bullsh!t ….CJB is really disappointing…..he is no big Ben .🏋……and am tired of hearing how tough💪 he is… ..i saw👀 too many way off passes from him its crazy….👎

    I won’t fire Kyle…..might even give him an extension….but I will fire Saleh today and fire Lynch end of the season….

    Lynch 🕴is a fraud…..dude is just a yes man…..he has no 👀 for talent…….Baalke and Mc (drunk) where much better at seeing talent…..lynch is only here cuz of the paycheck……can anyone seriously say lynch picked the players or he was told by Kyle which player he wants……..we need a leader GM not a follower

  23. Sorry if this double posts, but Grant good job on grades and your comments.

    Yes, if it’s possible for a TE to lose a game, this was the TE and the game. Celek needs to go. Bring up Ross Dwelley.

    Tackling is at Pop Warner level. When a team can’t tackle and consistently misses assignments, what does that tell you? Saleh is way over his head right now.

  24. We are who I thought we were.

    1. It was interesting how many Niner fans there were at the game.

    2. I agree with the overall sentiment of Grant and everyone else. Saleh is in over his head. Tackling is poor. Pass rush is worse. Injuries are killing us. KS is a good OC but is he a HC?

    3. I laughed when Tyrell Williams made an acrobatic catch over Ward and the announcer said – “Ward is thinking what is going on” Ha. He was probably thinking I cant believe I didn’t get injured. That is what I was thinking. Reminder he is our highest paid defensive player.

    4. Cards next week. I foresee DJ getting 25+ touches.

    5. I have not had a chance to articulate my thoughts about Jed York, but he really is the problem with our organization. The guy does not like football. It is a problem. It trickles down. I am not a Jerry Jones fan, but no one can dispute his love for the Cowboys and football in general. Wish our owner liked football half as much.

  25. Beathard is a very good backup QB. Good pickup.

    Kyle had a spotty record as an OC. Overrated coach.

    Solomon Thomas a complete bust as third pick.

    Niners should have kept second pick and drafted either Trubiskey or Mahomes and had a very good inexpensive QB for four seasons instead of waiting a year to get Cousins . Bad move.

  26. This game was decided by terrible clock management from Shanny which set SD up in position to tie the game at the half, and a 6 point swing because a 49ers game isn’t complete without the TE’s doinking at least one pass.

    Beathard played really well, the only issue in his game is that his feet are slow.

    At 1-3 the 49ers sit right where I had them for the first quarter of the season. They’re likely to go 2-2 in the second quarter, and I see them at .500 when the bye week hits.

    1. Shanny gets good grades for xs and os but cant’ seem to deal with the overall picture. He’ seems to be so focused on the small details that the big picture (scoring more points) tends to get lost. Clock management, giving up two timeouts on dumb reviews, completely giving up on the run, failing to properly supervise his staff. As far as the stacking the box excuse goes, If all defenses have to do is stack the box and we give up even trying to run, it’s going to be a very long season no matter who our QB is. Starting to see a pattern. KS can keep us close but this is not horseshoes or hand grenades. We’re concerned he’s another Norv Turner. Seems a lot like Steve DeBerg.

      1. Shanahan gets a little too pass happy at times, but yesterday there was some reasoning behind it. The Chargers defense was better against the run than the pass coming into the game and were playing run first for a large portion of this one. The other reason is that Breida was injured early once again and that also changes the mindset. He came back of course, but knowing he wasn’t 100% that changes the way the game is going to be called. Then there is the fact that the pass heavy game plan was working for a good portion of the game. You’d like to see more balance but game situations will throw that out the window sometimes.

        1. “The Chargers defense was better against the run than the pass coming into the game and were playing run first for a large portion of this one.”

          Yet Breida and Morris were still able to average over 4 yards per carry. Giving them only 13 carry’s combined won’t win games.

          1. I disagree. As mentioned the pass happy offense was working because there were a lot of quick short passes and the concerns over Breida’s health have to come into play. Morris averaged 3.5 a carry while Breida averaged 4.3. The running game wasn’t what was going to give them a chance to win. It was the passing game and they used it very well to the point they had a chance to win late before the pick. As I mentioned, you’d like to see more balance in play calling but game situations and what a defense is giving you dictates going heavy on one side sometimes.

            1. You can disagree. It’s ok to be wrong if you choose. The numbers back me up.

              In Shanny’s 7 wins they’ve run the ball an average of 30 times. In his 13 losses they’ve run the ball an average of 23 times. I haven’t taken out QB scrambles so the run numbers for both are likely a little lower, but the separation would be close to the same.

              Yesterday he gave SD an extra possession by choosing to call 3 straight passes at the end of the 2nd quarter instead of trying to run the clock out with a 3 point lead.

              They were effective when running the ball yesterday. Just didn’t do it enough, and Beathard took the brunt of it as a result.

              1. You can disagree. It’s ok to be wrong if you choose. The numbers back me up.

                Lol. You can choose to respond without acknowledging the counter points if you choose. Each game is it’s own entity and the strategy used yesterday was working. The three passes he called at the end of the half were a continuation from the previous possession where they put together a 21 play drive. It was successful and he kept going with it. Maybe they hit a big play and have a chance to put another FG. As it was they left little time on the clock; the Chargers just happened to get a great punt return. That’s football.

              2. “The three passes he called at the end of the half were a continuation from the previous possession where they put together a 21 play drive”

                Yeah, this just highlights that Shanny gets caught up in the game and has trouble managing the game.

                It’s exactly what cost him a Super Bowl ring.

                As for the passing game working, I agree and disagree. They moved the ball well, but they still cannot score TD’s in the redzone. 1-4, and once again we see a team move the ball up and down the field but be forced to settle for FG’s.

              3. “What about the short passes to the back outta the backfield, which are basically a long handoff?”

                Breida touched the ball 12 times yesterday. That’s not nearly enough. They need to find ways to get him around 20 touches a game.

              4. I don’t think he mismanaged the end of the half. I think he was being aggressive knowing they were going to have to put a lot of points on the board. Punting with 13 seconds on the clock is not going to be an issue most of the time. In this case the punt coverage let him down but there was nothing wrong with the strategy imo. Agree to disagree.

                As for the Red Zone issues, that is still a problem but again it’s not just about the play calling. Celek’s clanger that was picked is a clear example.

              5. Hammer, I don’t think Breida has shown he’s capable of touching the ball 20 times a game, do you?

              6. “I don’t think he mismanaged the end of the half. I think he was being aggressive knowing they were going to have to put a lot of points on the board.”

                We can agree to disagree. They had an opportunity to go in at half with the lead getting the ball to start the next half.

  27. I think CJ is a very serviceable QB. In fact, he had this offense moving at many times better than Jimmy G. CJ is not the problem, at least right now.

    But that defensive coverage mental lapse. That just doesn’t happen in the NFL. In the red zone, at the goal line….guy just standing in the end zone. If only that guy had been Celek…he would have dropped it.

    So why did 9ers get rid of Eric Reid. That guy could toughen it ifhe was in there with reuben and warner. But the D-line? Buckner is supposed to be talented, but he just disappears…and the trend on that is becoming apparent. On the field, it looks like there is no QB of the defense. Just a bunch of guys…

  28. Wow maybe I’m delusional but there was times during that game I thought Beathard looks better than Gorropolo…jmo of course..but yes this team has problems and don’t feel like typing them all now…
    And does Shanny have a personal vendetta against Breida or something? Everytime he starts getting hot he pulls him off the field for a long period of time

  29. Pretty much agree with the grades, but have one explanation for not running more. We need to remember that both Morris and Breida were not playing at 100%. It is possible that he wanted to use them as sparingly as possible.

    As many have suggested, it is becoming more clear that our DC is in fact over his head. The Peter Principle at work. He was promoted to his level of incompetence. We also should remember that Lynch/Shanahan were putting together a staff on the fly and probably didn’t have that many options to chose from. Took a gamble and it appears to not be working out.

    We should also remember that they are playing a hell of a lot of young players. Those missed coverage assignments will probably fix themselves with time. All in all I still see potential for this team. I thought they would and they did play better than most people expected they would.

    I still think they need to dig up those native american bodies that are probably buried beneath Levi stadium. Either that or find the person who put that Voodoo curse on the team. All those injuries are unreal. Lets not forget that obvious clip right in the open that was somehow missed by the officials on a key play in a key Charger drive. I mean you sometimes miss these things but that one was so obvious and there were no obstructions. An official had to be out of position to miss that one. It was right in front of the ball carrier.

  30. I would also say that Beathard’s play showed how effective a QB can be out of the pocket. Especially when you do not have consistent protection. Too many people get too wrapped up in the importance of staying in the pocket. Sure when you have one. One of the problems with Jimmy in respect to his game this season is that he stayed in collapsing pocket and got sacked when players did not get open in time. Getting out of the pocket can by you time.

    I also want to call out those of you who kept repeating that an elite QB will make the players around him better as justification for criticizing QB’s that they had a bias against. That an elite Qb will throw his receivers open. Well that is sometimes true, but is not always true. Just as it is not always better to have a QB stay in the pocket. It all depends on team and game variables.

    I thought this was the best effort by a 49er QB this season. He did as well as he could have under the circumstances.

    As to Celik, it seems he has reverted back to the Celik of old. But then no player is as good as his best game or as bad as his worst. I also thought Ward played better than expected, but he was just to short to cover those tall receivers.

    Well the positive is that the team played hard and was in the game till the end. With a break here and there they could have won. As I said earlier. If they play well and end up with a better record than we expect thats great. But if they don’t – well that just means they will have better draft capital to work with. They were not going to the Super Bowl this year anyway. They can just compete and lose close games to move up in the draft. Last season they over achieved at the end of the season and that lost them draft capital they could have used to build the team.

    1. Will, another astute post.
      .
      I, too, was grinding my teeth over the overlooked fouls. Blatant. KS was livid. Even the interception, when CJB was trying to tackle, with a defender hitting him in the back. Just shows how the refs can influence the outcome of a game very easily.
      .
      Did the Niners burn some sage to cleanse and purify the site? ;p

    1. Fox, with his heart issues, does not need the heartbreak of coaching a dumpster fire like the Niner defense.
      .
      Bet Fox is not too popular with Mike Shanahan, who he replaced after the Josh Mcdaniels fiasco.
      .
      Personally, I do not see Fox coming back as a DC, after being a HC.
      .
      It might be nice to get a savvy veteran to become the DC, but Fox is not a good option, especially if he is going to be subservient to KS.

  31. Shanahan never wanted Garapolo. He was all in on Cousins and when Captain Sominex made the call for the trade, Lynch had to make it. I’m sure he sold it like Jimmy G was an asset that they could use in the offseason and I don’t think Shanny wanted to even play him and wouldn’t have until CJB got hurt. When that happened and Jimmy G balled out, it kind of messed with Kyle’s masterplan and quite frankly, I don’t think he’s ever really moved on. I don’t like Kyle Shanahan. He feels like a total prick to me with a stick up his ass that needs all the right players to make his precious system work. I like the Niners, but they should have hired Sean McVay when they had the chance. Jed is a moron. He has no clue about spotting real talent.

    1. Actually, I will not beg to differ, but pointedly disagree.
      .
      KS does have a good offensive mind, and they were fortunate to have JG fall into their lap. JG, with his accuracy and quick release, is a more than adequate QB, and he is light years better than Hoyer. Cousins was an option, but he wanted to go to a playoff team, so the Vikings, who made it to the NFCC Game, was a better option than SF.
      .
      While I will agree that KS needs to eat some humble pie, he does have good bonafides. He just needs to swallow his pride, and admit he needs to hire an OC. Then, maybe he could spend some time helping the defense, instead of being solely focused on the offense.
      .
      KS needs to learn to make adjustments, but I was encouraged when I saw CJB roll out. Maybe he can become like his father, but his father, later on, also could not adapt, and play to his players strengths.

        1. I agree. It worked in Washington, but the roles would be reversed. I think Mike would be a good asset. He has been a coach since 1975, and he is part of the Walsh coaching tree.
          .
          Maybe Mike can also help teach the defenders to be able to wrap up players, instead of bouncing off.

  32. In fact, I mentioned hiring Fox not once, but 2x;

    “Slamd says:
    September 25, 2018 at 8:29 pm
    Fire Saleh at the end of the season and hire John Fox as the DC. Fox can be Kyle’s Wade Phillips.”

  33. Grant- I would like to add something in support of your take on using Breida more. One thing I just do not understand is why when they get to the goal line he ,ALWAYS, replaces Breida with Morris. It’s not like Morris is a legit power back who can run over people and bully his way into the end zone. Even if he is a slightly harder runner than Breida, bringing him in pretty much signals to the defense that they will run up the middle. With Breida in, the defense has to at least consider an outside pitch or screen pass. For someone who schemes his offense to have multiple options on each play to create unpredictability, he is certainly not doing that on the goal line.

    It he as going to just run up the middle once they got to the goal line , he should have added a real power back and not run a tweener like Morris. Or why not run juice.

    I suppose that even inovative offensive minds can become locked into patterns. Talk about a blind spot.

    1. Yup. The Niners decided to run into the teeth of the defense. I like your idea, but they first should have spread them out wide with 3 WRs and a TE, then gash them up the middle with Juice.

  34. Do you clowns not see Derwin James in the box all game? I know Beathard rarely saw him…

    Jack Hammer your arrogance is outstanding. We get it, your right, the coaches are wrong. Every year. Every game. Good job bud.

    There’s a minute left in the first half, we shouldn’t be thinking about points or anything. Of course not, that would be too aggressive, don’t want to offend ol Jack Hammer. Clown

    1. I pointed out up above that the Chargers were focused on stopping the run by loading the box forcing Beathard to beat them and he almost did…. It didn’t help either that both Breida and Morris were hobbled coming into the game. Speaking of James, Garcon actually called him out before that fatal snap but Gilliam failed to pay attention and Morris never chipped him coming out of the backfield. Losing Staley was huge… At this rate I wonder how many starters will still be on the field by season’s end. Nice work Ray Wright :/

      1. Red – even if you are right about stacking the box, it is obvious that the answer is not to just pass, pass, pass. Unless KS has a better antidote, we’re going to be drafting number 1 next year…..and maybe that’s all we can hope for.

        1. I’m all for more balance at times but Beathard played a fine game for the most part and it was easy to see why Shanahan stuck with him. Heck, if the Niners had won most of this is a non-discussion. Although the Bills will probably be drafting #1, this sorry azzz D has more to do our draft status than the offense. The offense is putting up points while the D can’t keep them off the board. Five #1 picks on that side so they deserve the majority of the focus… Niner’s D is giving up 7th most points per game while the Niners have the 12th ranked scoring offense. Is what it is.

    1. Another first round bust who can’t beat one on ones… If you watch him closely the effort isn’t always there yet Saleh keeps starting him. Not only is Saleh in over his head but he’s a pushover with his players too.

      1. AA and Buckner are too tall and play too high. Thomas is too small and can only make plays on the inside because he is not athletic enough to shed blockers in space and make plays. And, as far as any of them dropping in coverage, better to tell them to take the play off and be refreshed for the next snap. Taking AA and Buckner in sequence was a mistake. Taking Thomas to fix the problem just compounded the error. Sooner they admit and move on the better.

        1. AA and Buckner are too tall and play too high.
          -Huh? Buckner is one of the better interior linemen in the league. The niners just have no complimentary pieces for him. They have only drafted interior dlinemen for the past few years and people wonder why they have no pass rush?

      1. Agreed.
        If they bring in someone new it needs to be an older more experienced DC that can help add some wisdom to the room.

    1. Isn’t he the position coach of the linebacking crew that missed a dozen tackles in the KC game and half a dozen in the second half yesterday? :)

      1. Don’t you have a subscription to the prestigious, Athletic? I believe they did a story on Mr. Ryans. If you get time, maybe you can post it. I think he has the personality and credentials for the job. What do we have to lose?

        1. Oh, yes, I think Ryans shows many traits of a successful coach. I was just following the line of thought of blaming the coach for poor execution by players. But so does Saleh. If Saleh is 50% is prepared to be a DC, then Ryans is 10% prepared to be one.

  35. If there’s anything I learned from today’s games it’s that we should have drafted Derwin James #9 overall. He is an elite player and when you get a chance to draft an elite player, you do it

  36. At this point i’m grasping at straws to find anything positive, so I guess I could celebrate being correct. I liked Beathard when we drafted him. I thought he made solid strides as a rookie when he started last year and I have been saying here for a while that I believed he was going to develop into a quality NFL backup if not a decent starter. I think he will continue to improve this year (if he stays healthy) and will eventually become valuable trade bait. imho

  37. Starting CB out.
    Both starting safeties out.
    Punt returner and WR hurt early.
    Starting LT hurt early.

    I don’t disagree with the grades but the team is snake bit right now. Saleh may be in over his head but he’s dealing with a ton of change in his personnel at the moment. The one thing I see that Saleh must fix immediately is this is the worst tackling team in the NFL. The tackling is absolutely atrocious. Scheme may not be the issue. Jimmy Ward is not an NFL player and Exum & Reed couldn’t tackle my grandmother. Kinda hard to be a good defense when you have no hope of ever getting to the QB and you have guys who can’t cover NFL receivers. 49ers are looking at a top 5 pick with the way they are playing right now.

    1. Good points. It’s amazing how poor the tackling is on this team. It’s a league wide epidemic but the Niners are one of the worst if not the worst.

  38. Just one clarification, for a tackle to be missed, first a player needs to attempt to tackle, this players don’t even know how to tackle, they are hugging…they are throwing their selfs to the ball carrier hoping he trips and falls…

  39. I did not think I would ever see this, but I was amazed that the Niners did not only whiff on Gordon, they did it 6 times, ON ONE PLAY.
    .
    Glad they benched Ward and Witherspoon. Hope they start playing the rookies. The rookies cannot be as bad as those 2.
    .
    Ward does not seem to want to turn around and look for the ball. He had position on the receiver, but let the WR snatch the ball off his back. Witherspoon had the rep of being a light tackler, and he has proved that the scouting reports were right.
    .
    The Niners need to make some hard decisions, and stop playing favorites.

  40. There is so much wrong and seems like nothing is right. There is lots of blame to go around, same ole story, missed tackles, missed assignments, dropped passes, no pass rush, bad coaching, mental errors. – INJURIES, holy cow……

    I liked CJ last year and I like him even better this year. He played solid, nothing special and still out played any game JG had played ‘this’ year. Just saying….

  41. I haven’t had a chance to re-watch the game yet but from watching it live the team played hard and while mistakes were made and the two challenges were ill advised. they were competitive and came close to beating a pretty good team even though they are missing a number of key players. That’s what I want to see for the rest of the season. The final result means little to me now. I just want to see them playing hard and competing with young players improving so going into next year they have a clearer picture on what needs to be done to the roster.

  42. How to improve the tackling.
    .
    Niners should use their practice squad players as cannon fodder. However, they should give them extra padding and have them wear knee braces, to reduce possible injuries. Niner defenders should work on wrapping up.
    .
    Niners should copy a tactic Ronnie Lott and the Niners made famous. They would hold up the ball carrier, and Ronnie Lott would build up a head of steam and separate the ball from the ball carrier. Only nowadays, they need to hit head up and on the shoulder pads.

  43. The Boy and I had a great time at the game yesterday. He had a blast, definitely a moment to remember. Too bad we didn’t get the win, but it was a really fun one to watch.

    A few observations:

    – Either niner fans travel really well, or Charger fans have completely given up in this franchise. A sea of red from left to right, felt like a home game
    – Jimmie Ward is as bad as advertised. Just terrible coverage, doesn’t even bother to look for the ball at any point, ever.
    – Beathard was solid. Look forward to seeing his progress throughout the year.
    – Man Breida looks even quicker live.

    Heck of a game!

    1. That’s awesome Leo. Pretty cool making some Father-son memories around your favorite team. The Chargers don’t have a following. They rarely had sell outs in San Diego and often had a lot of the opposing teams fans in attendance there. Now it’s become even more pronounced because a lot of their Diehard fans in SD don’t support them in LA. Really stupid decision to move to LA although I understand the Stadium issue made it difficult to stay. Should have worked out some private-public deal for a site the city was willing to negotiate on instead of being fixated on a downtown location.

    2. Glad you had a memorable experience.

      1. Chargers never put their fans in the stadium; every Chargers game has been pretty much a road game for the home team. Lot of articles about it last season during the Chargers’ inaugural season at the Home Depot Center.

      2. I’m all for Greg Mabin starting over Ward; Mabin looked passable on defense.

      3. I think Beathard will continue to improve and show that he can be a quality backup, borderline starter.

      4. Hope Breida isn’t suffering consequences of the hyperextended knee for the rest of the season.

    3. Leo, glad you had a good time. You and your son will remember that game for a long time.
      .
      The outcome was not positive, but it was a back and forth contest, and very entertaining. Niners actually had a lead in the 4th quarter.

  44. So I saw on another site that NFL officials want the Niners to acquire Foles, based on the number of prime-time games coming up. Another bone-headed NFL take. Like Foles would really be up to speed on KS’s offense in the next couple of weeks, let alone all season. Plus, other than the miss on James’ blitzes, Beathard looked solid out there.

  45. Lost in the yelping about the D is that they scored 7 points yesterday and gave up 13 points on 3 drives that went a total of 53 yards thanks to special teams and the Int.

    The 5.5 yards per play they allowed yesterday was 11th fewest in the league.

    1. I know I am very much in the minority here, which is why I have stayed silent, but I thought the D played ok. Certainly not great, but good enough to win. Given how beat up the secondary was, playing ok was quite surprising.

      I love the DL grades by Grant, but tbh that was box score analysis. Day didn’t do much all game. The only guys that generated any pressure (albeit inconsistently) were the triumverate of 1st round picks. That sack by Day only happened because Thomas actually beat the RT and forced Rivers up into Day.

      The most disappointing aspect of the DL and D overall was their inability to tackle and stop the run. Honestly, the only guy I trust to make a tackle one on one is Jimmie Ward. He rarely misses. He should be playing safety.

      As for not running enough, people saying the Chargers loaded the box are correct. They did for the most part. They dared the 49ers to beat them through the air. As to whether Shanahan should have run the ball more anyway, well, possibly. I’ll leave that analysis to others. What I will say is that I saw a lot of comments about how people didn’t see much difference between Beathard and JG. Which just shows how little people pay attention, or fail to link ideas. Which other team the 49ers faced this year loaded the box and dared the 49ers to beat them through the air? Kinda makes a difference, huh?

      1. Yeah, I thought the defense was ok yesterday as well.

        “people saying the Chargers loaded the box”

        The “Seahawk” D is almost always going to give you an 8 man box because the SS plays up around the line.

        1. QB has to “re-Mike” the front and leave the widest defender away from the point of attack free or bring in a wide receiver to seal off the backside away from the run. Teams do it every Sunday and run the ball to close out the win vs. 8 or more in the box. You practice how to run vs. 8 in the box!!!!!!!!!! Keyword is “PRACTICE!” It has to be a point of emphasis. Niners 30th in Red Zone offense; 27th last season!!!!!! That is a problem!!!!!! Throw for show and run to win!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          1. Bill Walsh’s philosophy has been to control the ball with the forward pass. To do that we have to have versatility-versatility in the action and types of passes thrown by the quarterback.

            Dropback Passes
            We like the dropback pass. We use a three-step drop pattern, but more often we will use a five-step drop pattern of timed patterns down the field. From there we go to a seven-step drop. When our quarterback takes a seven-step drop, he’s allowing the receivers time to maneuver down the field. Therefore, we will use a three-step drop pattern when we are throwing a quickout or hitch or slant which, by and large, the defense is allowing you to complete by their alignment or by their coverage.

            The five-step drop pattern for the quarterback calls for a disciplined pattern by the receiver. He runs that pattern the same way every time. He doesn’t maneuver to beat the defensive back.

            Too often in college football, either the quarterback is standing there waiting for the receiver, or the receiver has broken before the quarterback can throw the ball. These are the biggest flaws you will see in the forward pass. Now when the receiver breaks before the ball can be thrown, the defensive back can adjust to the receiver. Any time the quarterback holds the ball waiting for the receiver to break, the defensive back sees it and breaks on the receiver. So the time pattern is vital.

            Play-Action Passes
            You can’t just dropback pass. You have to be able to keep the defense from zeroing in on your approach. That’s why the play pass is vital. By and large, the play-action pass will score the touchdown. The dropback pass will control the ball.

            For play-action passing, we have certain blocking fundamentals that we use. We will show different backfield actions with basically the same offensive line blocking. We will go to the play pass as often as we can, especially as we get to the opponent’s 25-yard line.

            Action Pass
            The third category of pass that most people use is what we call the action pass, where your quarterback moves outside. There are a couple of reasons for moving outside. One certainly is to avoid the inside pass rush. For a dropback passing team we’ll sprint-out “waggle” as we call it-outside to avoid blitzers who approach straight up the field on us. The other advantage is to bring yourself closer to the potential receiver.

            We’ll get outside to throw the ball and get ourselves closer to the man we want to throw to. When you can get outside, the trajectory of the ball can be flatter because normally there isn’t a man between you and the receiver.

            The versatility also includes changing your formations. We continuously change receiver width and spacing. We seldom will line up our receiver with the same spacing on two or three plays in a row. If we want to throw the ball to the outside, we will reduce the split of the receiver. We need running room to the outside. We don’t want the ball in the air very long. If we want to throw inside, we will extend the split of our receivers, so that there is more maneuvering room to the inside, and spread the defense. Our backs, as many teams know will cheat to get where they have to be. We know that if we throw to backs, the first thing on their mind is how to release out of the backfield. We are quite willing to move the man to get the release and sometimes telegraph what we are doing. We are quite willing to do that with the idea that when we want to break a given tendency, we simply line them up there and run something else.

            We will vary the split of the receivers according to the pattern and the coverage and, of course, to add versatility. The biggest problem you will have in the forward pass is when you have to throw the ball a number of times and, with a very limited inventory, you begin to throw the same pattern over and over. You get into trouble.
            The argument that you will throw the interception has to be qualified with how much you know about the forward passing game versus the running game. In our last game, our opponent fumbled five times, and we threw no interceptions. That might have been the difference in the game.

            Play Selection
            One of the factors involved with our success years ago with the Cincinnati Bengals was that we would begin to set a game plan for the opening of the game. We continued that at Stanford. In a given game, say, for instance, against Southern California, we ran the first 12 plays we had decided on in order. Of course, we ran out of lists because the first 12 worked and none worked after that. But the point is we went 12 plays in order, right down the line. We went eight straight games scoring the first time we had the ball. By the time we have completed 8 to 10 plays, we’ve forced the opponent to adjust to a number of things. We’ve kept him off balance with the type of thing we were doing, and we pretty much established in a given series what we would come to next.

            That’s a good approach to offensive football. It forces you to go into that game with a certain calmness. You know where you’re going, rather than having to say, “What in the hell do we do now?” Occasionally planned plays don’t work, but we keep going. We don’t change; we don’t worry about it. We try to create an effect on our opponent. The effect is that he feels he has to adjust. We present different looks and dilemmas. We run the ball right at him. We throw the ball over his head. Meanwhile, because we know what the play is, we readily see what their adjustments are. We try to get a line on their first down defenses, but we take it from there.

            In Scoring Territory
            I have seen many teams march the ball beautifully, but right around the 15-yard line, they are already warming up their placekicker, because right at that point defenses change, the field they can operate in changes, and suddenly their basic offense goes all to pieces.

            My contention is that if we are on their 25, we’re going for the end zone. Failing at that, we will kick a field goal. In an evenly matched game, I don’t want to try to take the ball from their 25 to the goal line by trying to smash it through people, because three out of four times, you won’t make it. Unless you are superior. Of course, if you are vastly superior it makes very little difference how you do it.

            Why? First, every defensive coach in the country is going to his blitzes about right there. The pass coverage, by and large, will be man-to-man coverage. We know that if they don’t blitz one down, they’re going to blitz the next down. Automatically. They’ll seldom blitz twice in a row but they’ll blitz every other down. If we go a series where there haven’t been blitzes on the first two downs, here comes the safety blitz on the third down. So we are looking, at that point, to get into the end zone.

            By the style of our football, we’ll have somebody to get the ball to a little bit late-just as an outlet to get 4 or 5 yards, to try to keep it. But from the 25 to the 10, we’re going for the end zone.

            Midfield
            Between our own 10-yard line and the opponent’s 25, we operate our field offense. We know that on first down our ball-control passing is vital. By and large, on first-and-10 you’ll get a 2-deep zone – zone-type defense. We can drop the ball off to a back late and still make 4 to 5 yards. Those 4 or 5 yards are as important to us as some other team making the same on an option play.

            You often will see us run with the ball on second-and-lO, because we want 5 yards. If you run a basic running play, you can get your 5.

            At third-and-5, we are right back with a ball-control pass, dumping to a back, and we’re making it. If we can make 30 first downs a game, we’ll win.

            Short Yardage
            We have standard passes to throw against a goalline defense. Too often people try to go in there and butt heads with good linebackers on the goal line. Too often they don’t make it.
            If we get inside that 5-yard line, half the time we are going to throw the ball. Now, if you’re marching through somebody, you can just close your eyes and hand the ball off But when it’s very competitive, that goal-line pass is vital. So we have a series of those. We never call them anywhere else on the field.

            When we are around their 35-yard line in a short-yardage situation, if we don’t see somebody standing deep down the middle, we’re probably going to go for the six points.
            To make it on third-and-1 we will often throw to a back out of the backfield. Third-and-3 is the toughest of all to make. We have a certain list of runs and a certain list of passes. When we have a third-and-3, we don’t grope. We go to it.

            Ball-Control Passing
            Don’t isolate throwing the forward pass to a given down and distance. If you are going to throw the ball, you must be willing to throw on first down, not a token pass hoping for the best, but a pass that is designed to get you a certain amount of yardage.

            In our ball-control passing, we will use the five-step drop pattern on first down, because we know through the drilling of our quarterback, that we can get 4 or 5 dropping the ball off to a back, who is an outlet, or to a tight end. So we are quite willing to throw a ball-control pass on first down, and then go to our seven-step drop maneuvering pattern on third down. As you can see, most of our offense is based on ball-control passes, no matter what the situation. Figure 1 shows you a ball-control pass that Sid Gilman may have developed some time ago. It’s one of the most effective forward passes we’ve used.

            FIGURE 1
            Red Right – 22 Z-In

            22 Z-In
            This is a five-step drop pattern. The quarterback takes five big steps and a hitch step and throws on time. The receiver splits 12 to 14 yards. The flanker releases inside for 5 to 6 yards and then bursts hard to the outside foot of the cornerback. What he wants to do is to get that cornerback on his heels. Then he’ll turn in about three steps and catch the pass 12 yards deep.

            The fullback runs what we call a scat pattern. He doesn’t have any pickup, and he releases to the outside. He never catches the ball more than 2 yards past the line of scrimmage, most often right at the line of scrimmage. If the backer blitzes, he looks for the ball early.
            Our tight end picks off the near end backer. He’ll put his head past that man’s shoulder, slow down, and make contact. He bounces off it and goes to the far guard position, turns and faces the quarterback, and watches his eyes because he’s the last outlet.

            The quarterback throws the ball related to the sky safety. If the safety gives ground, he’ll throw to the fullback. If the safety flattens out, we’ll throw in behind him, in this case to the flanker. If it’s man-to-man, the flanker runs a man-to-man pattern trying to beat the corner. If it’s man-to-man, the safety will often chase the tight end, and there will be a good throwing lane with the backer coming out on the fullback.

            When we throw to the fullback the ball should arrive to him a foot in front of his number. If the fullback has to reach, he will take his eyes off the ball, slow down or break stride, and probably get nothing out of it.

            Out Pattern
            The out pattern is a timed pattern thrown from a five-step drop. On a timed pattern, a quarterback does not take a hitch step.

            The receiver goes straight up the field as close to full speed as he can. At 10 yards he crosses over and breaks out. He catches the ball at 12 (see Figure 2). The SP doesn’t care about the coverage, other than if they roll up, he runs a seam. He doesn’t care where the defensive back is located, and he doesn’t change his angle of release. He just runs the pattern.

            When he catches it, he goes up the sideline. We tell our backs, ‘you want the sideline.” The reason is that only one man can tackle you at a time, and he often underestimates a ball-carrier along the sideline. What we are after on 22 Z-In is a 7- to 9-yard gain to the fullback, or a 12-yard gain to the flanker. The fullback gets it about two out of three times.
            If the two primary receivers are covered, our quarterback will come back and look at the tight end. As soon as the tight end sees the quarterback’s eyes, he slides laterally for the pass (see Figure 1).

            We have several other options off our 22 action, depending on the defense. We have a Z-in with fullback motion, a circle-out with our flanker, and a Y-out with the tight end. The key to the pass is the fullback. He should average 7 to 8 yards a catch. That’s what we mean by ball-control passing.

            FIGURE 2
            Red Right – 24 Double Square Out (OKIE)

            The quarterback decides prior to the snap and just after the snap whether he’s going to throw him the ball or not. The quarterback takes five quick steps. Notice I said five big steps in the Z in. Now that we’re throwing out, the QB takes five quick steps. He can’t lead the receiver with the pass because any time you lead a receiver who is running parallel to the ball, he’ll never catch up to the ball.

            Throw right at the man’s hip. If you throw into his body, the defensive back doesn’t have any way to get to it. What we are trying to get here is the defensive back giving ground this way and then losing lateral ground this way. That’s on single coverage.

            On this particular pattern both receivers do the same thing, but I would say most often the flanker gets it. The tight end takes an inside release, goes straight up the field, and runs a full speed crossing pattern, but never crosses the ball. The tight end on his basic crossing pattern is the one you go to on man-under defense. If a team is running man-under, that kind of an out is suicide. So if our quarterback sees inside-out coverage on wide receivers, reasonably close, his drop now goes right to the tight end; he’s looking for the tight end to beat a man-under linebacker.

            M Pattern
            The backs play a key role. They check the backers on a blitz. After reading for the blitz, the back runs what we call an M pattern.

            In the M pattern, the back moves 1 1/2 to 2 yards back from his blocking position. When he is 6 yards deep and 3 yards outside the offensive tackle, he turns upfield looking for the M pattern.

            On the M pattern, the weak linebacker-some call him a defensive end-takes away the square out, we hold the ball, and pop it right off to the halfback (see Figure 2).

            There’s also a tight end option off the double square-out pattern. As you can see in Figure 2, when both middle linebackers cover backs to the outside, and blitz one man, this isolates our tight end on a backer. He has a good chance of beating the backer.

            Hook Pattern
            Now let’s look at the seven-step drop pattern. This is one play that we’ve almost worn out.
            On a seven-step drop pattern, our receivers will maneuver. We’re going to run a blue left for us, a right, which is motion, and we’re going to run a 79, which is weak flow pass protection. Now X is going to run a pattern on the weak side (see Figure 3).

            FIGURE 3
            Blue Right – 79 X-Hook

            You vary the width of the receiver. He may be 1 yard split or he may be 12 yards split, depending on which linebacker we are trying to beat. X works up the field, gets past the man who has short coverage, and turns in. We tell him to get past the W and beat the M.

            On this pattern we tell our receiver that he must go at least 12 yards and never more than 18 yards on the hook. Not because he can’t get open, but because the quarterback can’t wait that long to throw. A lot of it is predicated on pass rush. We say never less than 12, because we can’t have a hook develop at 12 when our quarterback takes seven steps.

            *Posting the link was prohibited.

            1. if you go back and look at Bill’s games, he threw early and often with a variety of actions, but he closed out the wins by running the ball in the 4th Q and definitely had a good Red Zone run offense with McKittrick as his O-line coach. You cannot be soft in the run game in the Red Zone and expect to win. Run and shoot offenses proved that time and again.

      2. Scooter,

        I agree with most of what you said here, but not on the sack by Day. He beat his man clean and got to Rivers before he had even made much of a step up. Armstead got in there too, but that was a heck of a move by Day.

        1. Sure, Day did actually make a good move on that play to beat his man, but the initial pressure comes from Thomas at LDE, and forces Rivers to take a step up. When Day then comes free Rivers is right in front of him for the sack because of the work Thomas does.

    2. *58 not 53

      14 teams gave up a worse passer rating than the 49ers did yesterday, and only 7 teams gave up fewer yards per pass attempt.

      1. This actually brings up another point – did anyone else notice how quickly Rivers was getting the ball out most of the game? The pass rush wasn’t good, but when the ball consistently comes out quick it is also hard to get sacks.

  46. Well, this is just a theory of mine, but I think that because there is no Defensive Leader on the team and the coaches are not holding anyone accountable, the rookies and 2nd year players are trying to go all out and make BIG plays.

    They are trying to strip the ball/get a force fumble (Flashy), instead of running through the players and complete the tackle (non-flashy stuff).

    1. Definitely agree with the lack of leadership on the D and Saleh not holding them accountable… Really disappointing because guys like Buckner, Smith, Foster, etc. should be stepping up and owning this D. Only one showing any kind of leadership is Sherman who wasn’t even here last year. That said, I also think there’s a general (and so far quiet) lack of confidence in Saleh and its easy to hide behind that and the lack of accountability when they’re not playing well…. If Shanahan wants to stick with this scheme he should replace Saleh with Kris Richard. If not then replace him with a guy like John Fox as others have suggested. Either way time for Saleh to go.

  47. Part of the defenses problem is the players are young and are “thinking” about what to do instead of reacting. This causes them to not be where they should be when they should be there.
    I also think the Seattle defensive system is based on having great players knowing what to do at all times and having a great safety. I think they are going to struggle with Earl Thomas being out. The Niner’s do not have that player and along with a pathetic pass rush it really hurts the defense.
    It does seem like the Defense plays to not make mistakes instead of to attack the other team. In the first couple of series Foster was able to create some problems for the Chargers. They then went away from that approach.
    Not withstanding all everyone has said about the defense, but for the pick near the end zone and the long punt return this would have been a win, so the defense is not that bad, but it does need to play better.

  48. Playing aggressive- which the 49ers didn’t do……… time and a place, I get it…………. but the 49ers needed to take their shots at Mahomes early.

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