Heading into week two San Francisco wanted to make a statement against Seattle. They did in fact make a statement, but it was entirely the wrong one. The Seahawks dominated the game on both sides of the ball and even an in-game delay wasn’t enough to jump start the out of sync 49ers. Besides the fact that they played atrociously, what else did we learn about the Niners on Sunday night?
The 49ers do not like Seattle:
This is the most obvious takeaway but it’s also the most important. Assuming both the Niners and Seahawks make the playoffs, the Niners need to finish ahead of the Seahawks to ensure that they never have to play in Seattle. Whether it’s the crowd noise, the weather, or the different field surface, the Niners turn from a Super Bowl contender into what looks like a team with the first overall pick in the draft next year. However, we also need to give credit to the Seahawks. They run the ball great and don’t shoot themselves in the foot, which is something the Niners failed to do throughout the game. There is a good chance Seattle will win out at home this year, so the Niners need to beat them in San Francisco and hope that the Seahawks’ average play on the road results in more losses. Bottom line is that Seattle’s defense combined with the deafening crowd noise, do not add up to points for the visiting team.
I understand that the 49ers have options in the running game with Colin Kaepernick’s speed and the read option, however they must find a way to get Frank Gore more involved. On Sunday night he only had nine caries for 16 yards, while Kaepernick had nine caries of his own. They need to simplify the offense and quit trying to force plays that utilize Kaepernick’s abilities. If a lane is open for Kaepernick to run, then take it, but by simplifying the offense Gore will get more caries and find a rhythm earlier in the game. Once he makes his presence felt, the defense will have to worry not only about Kaepernick’s running and passing ability, but also the threat of Gore breaking free. On Sunday it seemed like the Niners gave up on Gore too early, and because Kaepernick had no room to run, they were forced to go up against Seattle’s secondary. The 49ers need to address this before they face another top caliber defense or they could find themselves in trouble in the NFC West.
Still need another receiver:
Last week after the 49ers dominated the Packers secondary, I argued that they still need to find one more reliable receiver. The argument might have sounded crazy when I said it, but now it has a bit more credibility. Although there are very few cornerbacks capable of shutting down Anquan Boldin, as Richard Sherman did on Sunday, the Niners cannot rely on one of their oldest players to carry half of the offense. Kyle Williams and Vance McDonald are not the answers for a number two receiver, and it’s not a smart idea to wait for Michael Crabtree or Mario Manningham to return from injury because there is no telling how they will perform. Not to mention, the Crabtree and Manningham argument was based on the assumption that the Niners were for sure going to make the playoffs. Although they will most likely still reach the playoffs, they can make it a lot easier on themselves and provide more options for Kaepernick, by brining in a solid receiver. It needs to be a priority and it needs to get solved soon.
So far I have only pointed out the negatives from the 49ers on Sunday, because lets face it, there were a lot of them. There were however some bright spots, such as their secondary playing well on the road and only allowing 118 yards in the air. Assuming Eric Reid’s concussion symptoms do not come back, the secondary looks like a bright spot that they can rely on. Something else they can rely on is Kaepernick bouncing back from his dreadful performance. He threw three interceptions and lost a fumble, but we have to remember that it happened against the best defense in the league, in the toughest away stadium, and without a solid number two receiver to target. Also, considering the 49ers are 8 and 0 after a loss or tie under Jim Harbaugh, you can expect them to be ready for the Colts come Sunday at the Stick.