Undefeated 49ers still have room for improvement

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk (13) is tackled by San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman (25) during the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

SANTA CLARA — Halfway through the season, the 49ers still haven’t lost. But some of the lasting images from their latest win were negative. Of course, images aren’t everything. The 49ers beat the Cardinals, played hard and are the only undefeated team in the NFL. Still, as the coaches and players would admit, some things are concerning.

Richard Sherman missed a tackle near the sideline, and Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Andy Isabella ran 88 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Call that lasting image No. 1. Five 49ers defenders streaked down the field, all with chances to bring down Isabella, and none did. They looked like a slapstick act, not an elite defense, as they chased in vain.

Sherman stormed to the sideline, sat on the bench and screamed at defensive backs coach Joe Woods as Woods listened and nodded. Lasting image No. 2.

After the game, Sherman leaned across a podium with his eyes wide open, eagerly awaiting critical questions. Still seething. Lasting image No. 3.

“That was a humbling game,” he admitted. “We need to be humbled on all levels. Everybody will watch the tape and judge themselves critically, because we can’t play like that. That’s not championship football.”

Sherman sounded like the 49ers had lost.

Of course, they didn’t lose. They won 28-25. But they were challenged by a team that probably will win no more than six games this season. Here are five concerns the 49ers must address.

This article has 63 Comments

  1. I think we could dispense with the, Jimmy doesn’t trust his knee, drumbeat after supporting Chandler Jones on his back. 270 lbs. worth. If he doesn’t trust it after that, he never will….

  2. I agree with Razor for once…its not the knee…..he needs WR’s and or guys to catch the dadgum ball…how many drops this season?? how many would have been TD’s??…I have seen Samuel, Pettis, Coleman and a few others drop long gains and TD’s…..they draft 2 WR’s this year and neither has done squat…..JimmyP needs guys to get open and catch the ball plain and simple

    1. I do think Deebo will come around. He seems too excited right now. I think Sanders will help him significantly. I think Sanders will help the whole receiver group for that matter.

    2. Yeah, its really no coincidence that Jimmy is playing better since Sanders arrived… Nice to have a receiving threat other than Kittle.

  3. People seem to forget this was a road game on a short week and the Niners had a ton of significant injuries. The Niners were noticeably fatigued in the 4th quarter, but they gutted out a tough win.
    With reinforcements coming soon this team is going to be nasty.

  4. Off topic, but I swear Raider fans are straight up idiots.
    A co worker swears his Oakland TE is the best in the league.
    And had the nerve to send me stats vs Kittle.
    A weak 47 yards more, 1 TD and 4 more catches with one more game played.
    He hit me with this just this morning.
    If that’s not fishing for an argument idk what is.
    I didn’t even say their TE was bad, I just told him he’s not the best in the league.

    He’s bringing a nerf gun to battle.
    And of course he brings up the schedule.
    A couple of wins and they’re world beaters.
    Typical Raider fan. Smh

    1. Darren Waller is a beast and very close to Kittle’s equal. It’s okay to slag it out of principle and all that, but your Raider friend isn’t that far from the truth.

      1. He’s a good receiving TE. But he’s not close to as good as Kittle is. Kittle is the best all round TE in football.

  5. It is hard for me to believe that Seattle is going to be able to contain our offense. We should be able to rack up the score. Wilson is a load but he’s not yet faced the #1 defense. The Niners should win comfortably.

    1. According to Grant we are #22 in run defense…..not good…..its not going to be comfortable as long as Wilson is back there no way

  6. So Robbie Gould is out, hopefully we have no issues without him in the kicking game, it will be real tough like always to play against Russell Willson, hopefully we can contain him and whoever fills in for Kwon Alexander can fill the void playing some smart football,

    My pick
    49ers 23- Seattle 17

  7. I have a question about K. Alexander. How do you tear a pec? Tackling and your arm gets stretched effecting your pec? Could it be muscle fatigue from the short week? I understand tearing a pec lifting but i’m curious what sort of football movement tears a pec?

        1. Yeah that’s what I was thinking too, OC.

          Linebackers do a lot of “bench” reps in a game when shedding blockers.

          It could be from that. It could be from reaching out and grabbing, but I’d think more shoulder/arm with that.

          Would be interesting if we could pinpoint the play in which he was injured. Just watching him in the first series of the second half makes me think it actually happened before the half and he tried to play through it at first.

          I actually asked a question about this to Grant yesterday but didn’t get a response. I think he might have been in the makeup trailer getting ready for the game.

          1. Jack,
            So you think Grants going Hollywood on us? I was wondering if the injury had to do with fatigue from the short week? Maybe if they The players let the owners add 1 game to the schedule they could trade that for no more Thurs. games.

        2. Flys, as it hyper-extends the muscle. Those are also very bad for your shoulders and rotators. Just a bad/unsafe exercise overall.

          And yeah, he probably tore it trying to tackle, arm stretching too far back, maybe he was tight in the chest that day.

          Odd that it hit him and JJ Watt in basically the same week.

          Not quite the same, but remember Elway rupturing his right bicep tendon before the Super Bowl in 1997. Obviously the bicep is a lot smaller muscle than the pec, and has less importance to throwing the ball as a pec does to tackling, but damn it makes one wonder why a torn pec puts someone on the IR (I guess 6 weeks isn’t enough time to recover).

          1. Yeah, it looks like he did it going for an arm tackle, so too much stress on the pec. Went for the big hit. I’d say he ought to go for textbook rugby-style form but that’s just not his game.

            1. Hit then wrap.

              Square up, drive, and wrap.

              Easier said then done, especially from us sitting on our A’s, but guys sometimes let their form go and usually it’s nothing more than a missed tackle but it can lead to things like this.

              Also, could have not been loose enough in his pecs, probably next time he suits up he will have the AT stretch him out extra.

    1. @OldCoach, Injuries can happen in any god damn play, you have seen it, from Jimmy G on a bad foot plant against KC last year, Richard Sherman torn acl with the seahawks about 3 years ago when he just bad planted his feet as well, barely tackling , Personally I played football and dislocated my shoulder 3 times , the first time when tackling a player and not having the enough shoulder strength put in to make the impact, it is football, injuries will happen at any time ,so the answer of the reason is it is just football.

      1. Yeah, wrap up and the runner’s momentum, perhaps augmented by the mass and momentum of OL in the pile, stretches the muscle past breaking point. Velocity and tangential angles at collision impart too much stress.
        I had a dislocated hip, dislocated shoulder and broken collarbone from a big-ish wave wipeout without ever hitting the bottom; just too strong opposing forces under the impact zone.

  8. The preseason loss of Trent Taylor had an enormous ripple effect on Shanahan’s layered offense, enough that it contributed to the 9 ers going run heavy. Defenses have gone to loading the box and in the effective absence of both tackles, fullback and a dinged tight end, begged Garoppolo to throw against 4 defenders. Oops, he can. He really can, especially with Sanders predictably breaking open in that vacant Taylor role. He can and will do it again. The problem against Seattle is a bruiser RB and a mobile QB, That’s the chink in the armor.

    1. Niners “going run-heavy” likely has little to do with Taylor’s absence. Kyle’s offense has always been built on the running game, and when it’s working like an oil-oiled machine as it has, it’d be super dumb to reduce running the ball especially with an excellent committee available. Defenses will have limited success with just loading the box because Niners rely on the stretch game with outside zone play. Their gap running schemes (or their inside zone plays) use box-beating plays such as counters and orbit/jet motion. The biggest problem for the running game has been the loss of Juice, not just for blocking, but also for plays where they pass out of the run formations (e.g., variations of spider-2-Y-banana).

  9. Niners Nation @NinersNation 2m
    RT @nwagoner: I’m told that #49ers-#Seahawks game on Monday night is tracking to have the largest amount of tickets distributed for a Niners game at Levi’s Stadium in its relatively short history. Assuming those folks put those tickets to use, should make for a heck of an atmosphere.

  10. What a nitpicky article.

    Niners had that game in control, save for one fluke play where the E-man missed the int and RS missed the tackle and it was off to the races.

    Don’t act like this game was ever in doubt, they were driving with the ball to end the game. If it was tied they’d have been driving for that game winning kick.

    The score of this game is not indicative of how it was actually played. AZ took away the run and what did Jimmy do?

    Grant, your negging is tired.

  11. Seattle D reminds me of last year’s Niners’ D. Serviceable starters with a couple of stars but missing closers (pass rush).

  12. I think Seattle might give us our first loss. Their only two losses have come against the Ravens and the Saints who are both great teams. Plus they have a good QB in Russell Wilson and Carroll always gets the best out of his players. We don’t have Gould, Kwon and Kittle is diminished.

    Niners 22 – Seahawks – 24

    Hope I’m wrong.

    1. Yes you can never EVEr count out Wilson…..it may be a 4th quarter game and Wilson is the man at this…..having Kittle out is HUGE it all goes through him….the only way Frisco wins is if the running game is on fire as well as the D. If not Wilson will pull it out in the 4th…lets hope not

    2. SF is just a little too strong in the D and offense, lots of running. After a mini-bye at home. Even w/Kittle and Kwon out out. SF will be on Wilson’s tail, chasing him in circles and getting a few sacks. WR Sanders and JG hook up and LB Greenlaw has a good game. McG, Juice and Staley are BACK…30-20 49ers…….If they beat the Ravens 12/1, they’ll go to the SB.

    3. And their wins?
      They also lost to Bridgewater in his first start. At home.
      Got lucky with a missed FG vs rams
      Barely beat the winless Bengals
      Went to overtime with the Bucs
      Got bailed out vs Cleveland
      This is not the same old Seahawks.
      In the trenches the 49ers are far more superior.
      This game might be a blowout in SF favor

  13. Don’t really think we can take too much from the Cards game. Need to see those same deficiencies a few games in a row. And honestly, I don’t think Sherman deserves all the blame on the Andy Isabella TD. Sherman took a poor angle but the player who really screwed the pooch on that play was Jimmy Ward. Sherman didn’t use the sideline and he overpursued allowing a cut back. Ward was behind Sherman and should have seen Sherman’s angle. Ward also overpursued and left the cutback wide open. Sherman didn’t play it great but Ward totally screwed that play up.

    The run defense has definitely been a concern. I think it might be a couple of different factors at play. The Wide 9 creates natural running lanes and the 49ers are trading size for speed at the LB position. 49ers LBs average about 235 lbs which seems really light to me. Chris Carson is about 235 lbs so the 49ers LBs are about the same size as the RBs they are facing this week. I’m also curious about Tartt and Ward. Where are they in the run defense? Seems like they are either taking bad angles in run support or their run fits are just off. Wonder if Saleh might make some changes on obvious run downs to bring in the DE’s and maybe move Tartt in the box with Ward as the single high FS.

  14. Mood_Indigo says:
    November 8, 2019 at 11:03 am
    Seattle D reminds me of last year’s Niners’ D. Serviceable starters with a couple of stars but missing closers (pass rush).

    Reply: Seattle is 29th in sacks. To get them they have to blitz…The communication skills of our rookie OT’s will be tested….Don’t know if Staley can play a whole game. Sounds like he is still getting his wind back.

    However, in 5 games, I’m sure the Rooks have seen every blitz.

  15. Hey Razor and NinerMD, I sent you both trade offers in the PD fantasy league, and also emails through the league as well. Check em out!

  16. The OL replacements have done surprisingly well. Skule and Brunskill stepped in and the offense has not skipped a beat.

    Let’s face it, Lynch and Shanahan have done a great job of plugging in players that allow the machine to keep working.

    At some point (maybe on Monday) our starters will be back on the field. I have to admit that I’m a little concerned about that because Skule and Brunskill have done so well it almost feels (imho) that a sense of cohesiveness could suffer. But that will be determined when our starters get on the field.

    In any case, I feel good about the teams future going forward because in the event of injuries we have backup players that can come in and get the job done.

        1. Dweelly is the man……..up.

          Might be a smoke screen, hope he plays. I mean he came back into the game and ran all around. But it may be smart to let Kittle really heal up in Nov. The DB’s are really going to have to step it up and have a great game, plus JG, the DL and O. Sherman going against his old team might fire him up. I really hated him when he was a Seahack. Now he loves being on the 49ers playing against his old team just seems like a weird dream, still can’t believe he’s here. 49ers win by 10 points.

      1. Shanahan said in his presser yesterday that he wont know about Kittle until the end of the week.
        Because the game is on Monday, Shanahan may wait until tomorrow to make a decision regarding GK’ availability. I expect him to play because he came back in to play in the Cards game. He’ll have nearly 11 days of rest leading into Monday.

        If Kittle can’t go, Ross Dwelley can play the position well. He’s definitely no Kittle, but he can help move the chains. And more importantly, Dwelley is a capable blocker.
        Our WR’s will also need to shine on the receiving end. This game may allow them that opportunity.

      2. Kittle is one of the toughest guys in the game. He’s already proven he can play through pain at a very high level – he played a large chunk of last year with busted ribs. If he can’t go Monday that would suck, but if he does play, injured or not I expect he will play a big part on offense.

  17. The Niners have everything it takes to go deep into the playoffs. Losing Kwon does hurt though. He’s a rare LB that can play the run and cover, on the field for all three downs. One of the things that affected the Niners against the Cards was the no huddle. The cards could run or pass without letting the Niners get their sub packages in. A guy like Alexander could stay on the field and it wouldn’t be a problem.

    This injury may be more costly than they/we realize.

    I wonder if a guy like George Iloka could play inside linebacker? He’s 6’4, close to 230. He hits like a freight train and could actually cover TEs and backs.

    1. Yes CS….the league now has the book on the D…hurry up offense ….. they AZ also ran well outside the numbers so sealing the edge was an issue…..who else noticed that Warner played horribly??? now without Alexander the opposing teams will dial it up and attack these areas….just saying….

      1. The hurry-up offense was a good plan on Kingsbury’ part. But it may have been effective for the simple fact that the 49ers were already tired from their game 3 days prior.
        Don’t know if the seahawks try to employ that pattern on Monday, but if they do, the defense will be well rested.

        1. My guess is Pete Carroll is going to try and bully the bully. He is gonna try and play ball control, physical football and see if the 49ers get impatient and make mistakes.
          Maybe the Niners feel they have to put on a show on MNF so Carroll tries and frustrates the young Niners to making mistakes.
          I think Shanny is too smart for that. He will have the boys ready and ready to play their brand of football.

    2. I like where your heads at with Iloka.
      Though Greenlaw might surprise. He’s a bit undersized but seems to have a nose for the ball.

      1. Dre looks like a baller….needs more play time and is built like a brick sht house….lets hope he is coached up well and does better than what we had out there last week…..Warner played horrible … if Warner plays like he normally does and Dre is better or an upgrade its all good…..if not the other team teams will attack this area with play designs….

      2. He’s proven to be a gamer and way beyond his draft/round status. I was skeptical of the pick when they made it, but he’s flashed.

        I also think Az can play and hope he gets a chance to get some reps.

  18. “49ers’ C.J. Beathard strained his back trying to mimic Seahawks’ Russell Wilson during practice”

    That’s what happens when you try to act like a midget!

  19. The Seahawks beat the Raiders by 2 points, the Bengals by 1 point, the Steelers by 2 points, the Rams by 1 point, the Browns by 4 points, and the Falcons by 3 points. They beat 6 teams by a whopping 11 points.
    I think they are paper tigers.
    They have major flaws, that the Niners can exploit. JG should have a good game. Winston did.
    I am glad they promoted Elijah Lee from the PS, since he did well late in 2018.
    I just wonder if Woods can make the proper assessments, and proper adjustments.
    The Seahawks will try to copy several teams when the used the run game to score a TD early. I hope Kocurek does not use the Wide Nine early. If the Niners shut down Carson, they can win.
    Niners 24-23.

    1. The unexplainable grows through irrational human observation.
      The keys to this game are, in no particular order:
      Gap Integrity
      High-Low Scheming
      Hybrid Wide Eleven Scheme
      Finesse Bull Rush
      Cover 3
      Sideline Leverage
      Niners 39-29.
      GO NINERS!!!

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