This postseason for the 49ers is setting up to be a fun ride.
After defeating the Cowboys in Dallas on Sunday, San Francisco will next travel to Green Bay, Wisconsin, to take on the Packers. Talk about history. These first two matchups are dripping with it.
Bravo to the 49ers faithful for asking an excellent balance of questions covering the win over Dallas, looking forward to Green Bay and possible front office moves this offseason.
Let’s get this started off with the questions:
Jamie Hess @JamieHess9ers – Why does Kyle Shanahan go away from play that worked so well in the first half? Deebo Samuel couldn’t be stopped, and they stopped giving him the ball.
It didn’t look like Kyle Shanahan went away from anything on Sunday. The 49ers ran the ball 19 times in the first half for 70 yards and a touchdown. They came out in the second half and ran the ball 19 times for 99 yards and a touchdown.
After having only 13 yards on four carries at halftime, Deebo Samuel gained 59 yards and scored a touchdown on six carries in the second half.
The difference wasn’t Shanahan. It was Jimmy Garoppolo.
Garoppolo was terrific in the first half, completing 11 of 14 passes for 133 yards and making several big plays to convert on third down.
The second half was a completely different story. Garoppolo was able to complete only five of 11 attempts for 39 yards and an interception.
Shanahan dialed up a third down play that saw Brandon Aiyuk get wide open and Garoppolo blew the throw, sailing it over Aiyuk’s head.
On the next possession, Garoppolo threw an interception while moving to his right to get away from pressure, and at that point it became about moving the ball in small chunks and keeping the clock going.
The only two play calls from Shanahan in the second half that were debatable were calling for a pass on third and one on the opening possession, and having Trent Williams motion on fourth and inches with only 40 seconds left to play.
Jordy Niner @JordyNiner – How was DeMeco Ryans able to stay dominant against Dallas after losing both Bosa and Warner?
One word: depth.
The 2021 49ers pass rush may not be at the same level as it was in 2019 with regards to the starters, but the totality of that group is better.
Arden Key, Jordan Willis, Charles Omenihu, Kevin Givens, Kentavius Street. This group gives the San Francisco defensive line a strong rotation which does not have much of a dropoff from the starting group.
At linebacker the 49ers have Dre Greenlaw and Azeez Al-Shaair. Greenlaw started alongside Warner for much of the 2019 season, and Al-Shaair was able to play at a high level throughout 2021 with Greenlaw out due to injury.
Neither Greenlaw nor Al-Shaair can play at the level of Warner, but they are still pretty good compared to other linebackers in the NFL.
Lukey Walsh @LukeyWalsh – Of Mike McDaniel, DeMeco Ryans, Adam Peters and Ran Carthon, which would be the most difficult to replace if they were hired from another team as head coach or general manager?
In the spirit of the question the answer would be Mike McDaniel. After all, it’s Kyle Shanahan’s offense.
A bigger point needs to be made here. The 49ers under Shanahan and Lynch have done a very good job of building a bench of talented individuals throughout the organization.
Losing Ryans would sting, but they have defensive assistants with previous experience as coordinators in the NFL.
It’s a similar story with Adam Peters and Ran Carthon.
There was concern around this time last year when Martin Mayhew was hired away from San Francisco to become the general manager in Washington.
Losing Peters or Carthon would be a blow, but San Francisco seems to have the pieces already in place to promote from within and move forward.
Mario @The 803_Chemist – The Green Bay Packers used quick passing, chipping, and the run game to neutralize the pass rush of the 49ers in week three. Do you think that will work again? Can the defense make Green Bay one dimensional?
The ability to get the ball out quick and accurately is a big part of what makes facing Aaron Rodgers so tough. Everyone should fully expect to see Green Bay try all those techniques on Sunday.
Against Dallas we saw the Cowboys try to chip Nick Bosa on the first third down of the game, except the 49ers had a stunt called and Bosa looped around inside and was nearly untouched as he and Samson Ebukam took Dak Prescott down for a sack which set the tone for the remainder of the game.
Maybe they’ve been saving the chip beaters for the playoffs.
As good as Aaron Rodgers was back in week three, the 49ers defense held him under 300 yards passing.
The other problem for San Francisco in the first matchup was their run defense. Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon combined for 100 yards on 25 carries.
The 49ers defense has held their last 10 opponents to under 100 yards rushing.
If San Francisco can make Green Bay one dimensional it should lead to a strong defensive performance on Saturday night.
Swan Song @SwanSongNC – Which team has improved more since the week three meeting: 49ers or Packers?
At first glance the answer would probably be San Francisco, but this is a tough call. Let’s look at some of the changes.
In the first matchup Elijah Mitchell was on the sidelines and Deebo Samuel carried the ball only two times for zero yards.
Josh Norman also started opposite Emmanuel Moseley and would be replaced by Dontae Johnson and Deommodore Lenoir. It was Lenoir who allowed the completion to Davante Adams which set up the game winner.
Back in week three the 49ers pass rush was much different as well. Samson Ebukam and Arden Key played only 19 and 11 snaps each.
Each of these areas has shown drastic improvement for San Francisco over the second half of the season.
The changes aren’t limited to only San Francisco. Green Bay should have left tackle David Bakhtiari back on Saturday night and is hopeful to also have linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Whitney Mercilus ready to go.
Bakhtiari and Smith both missed the first game due to injury, and Mercilus was a member of the Houston Texans in week three.