With the 49ers dropping a tight contest against Seattle on Sunday and falling to 6-6 on the season, it was expected that this week’s mailbag questions would be lively. The readers didn’t disappoint.
As you could expect, the play of Jimmy Garoppolo was on the top of their minds.
David @110926Dave – So many things the Niners did wrong. With that said, would Trey Lance have made a difference? Let me get your honest opinion?
Some plays would have turned out different, but I do not think the result of this game changes with Trey Lance in at quarterback.
While Jimmy Garoppolo deserves some blame, especially for his two interceptions, this game was lost due to mistakes throughout the team. Here’s a list off the top of my head of what led to the loss:
>Special teams allow a 73yd Fake Punt TD after the defense forces a quick three and out to start the game.
>46 more yards in penalties than Seattle. More on this below.
>Terrible 2-minute defense. Jimmy Garoppolo went to the sideline at with a 23-14 lead and less than two minutes to go in the first half. Special teams allow the kickoff return to get out to the 35-yard line. From there the 49ers defense gifts Seattle 23 yards with two roughing the passer penalties and the Seahawks score a touchdown to go in down by only two.
>Garoppolo with two bad interceptions. His first throw was to the correct read, but he needed to wait a beat longer before making the throw to Trent Sherfield. On the second interception, Garoppolo was over aggressive and threw down the middle to George Kittle who was triple covered instead of hitting an open Elijah Mitchell on a checkdown.
>Gould missed an extra point.
>Benjamin fumbles opening kickoff of the second half. While the defense would bail Benjamin out when K’Waun Williams came up with an interception, this was a big part of why San Francisco started four of their five second half possessions inside their own 10-yard line.
>Compton was blown up by Carlos Dunlap on two key pass plays. The first play resulted in Jimmy Garoppolo being sacked in the endzone for a safety which tied the game at 23.
The next play was the 49ers final of the game. Jimmy Garoppolo delivered a pass to Trent Sherfield who was wide open at the goalline, but Compton had been driven backwards once again and Dunlap was able to knock the ball down at the line of scrimmage.
>Brandon Aiyuk’s drop on 3rd and 8 takes away 22yd gain. This play came on 3rd and 8 early in the fourth quarter. Instead of having the ball out near midfield, the 49ers are forced to punt the ball away and won’t get it back until nearly seven minutes of game time was chewed up by the Seahawks offense.
>Dontae Johnson personal foul in the fourth quarter allows Seattle to take nearly six more minutes off the clock. Instead of the 49ers defense getting off the field with a stop, Johnson is called for unnecessary roughness due to helmet-to-helmet contact on Seahawks tight end Gerald Everett. Although the defense would eventually force a fumble on the two-yard line, this penalty was very costly in terms of time and field position.
massimo @paratropina – Will the 49ers get anything for Garoppolo or do you think they will have to cut him?
I think it will be very difficult for San Francisco to get much of anything for Garoppolo in terms of draft picks unless it’s a conditional pick in 2023.
With a salary cap hit of nearly $25 million and some high-profile quarterbacks likely to be available this offseason the number of suitors will likely be limited.
Genuine Waruna @waruna – Was the coverage soft on the last 49ers drive? When Lance led a touchdown drive at the end of the Seattle game it was soft coverage, but Jimmy had a great drive?
Yes and no. While the Seattle defense was in zone for several plays on the final drive Sunday@, they also changed up their looks with a blitz and man coverage at times.
At the end of the first game between these two teams, Seattle sat in a soft zone coverage with Bobby Wagner lined up seven to eight yards off the ball for every snap. That was certainly not the case this time around.
Joe @joezinsf – Can we finally put to rest the tired cliché that Kyle Shanahan can use any running back and the 49ers can still dominate on the ground? This team needs elite speed (Mostert, Deebo) to make this offense go.
I think so. Elijah Mitchell is a nice back who should have a good career with San Francisco, but the 49ers need an explosive element to complement him in their run game. They lost that when they lost Raheem Mostert after only two carries in the season opener and found it again with Deebo Samuel a few weeks ago.
Without Samuel yesterday the 49ers run game was held to only 2.8 yards per rushing attempt and George Kittle showed he’s no Deebo Samuel when called upon for an end around.
Aether Art @aetherartvids – Can the 49ers win without Deebo Samuel?
They can, but to make that happen the 49ers need everyone to step their games up. As I said in this column last week, the explosive plays from Deebo Samuel masked some weaknesses, in particular along the offensive line.
The low yards per attempt in the running game is just one area. Without those big runs from Samuel the 49ers offense was forced to throw the ball more than they had since losing to Arizona. This played a role in the safety early in the second half, and the pass on the final play being batted down.