Self-Inflicted Wounds Cause 49ers Demise

Self-Inflicted Wounds Cause 49ers Demise

Thursday Night marked the third game in thirteen days that the 49ers played. Perhaps the fatigue led to the mistakes. Perhaps a well-coached Texan defense playing fundamental Tamp 2 Defense aided in that fatigue. Whatever it was, the 49ers performance on the whole was abysmal. Over the course of the game the 49ers committed an uncharacteristic eleven penalties for 104 yards. Conversely the Texans were flagged five times. Eleven penalties are eleven avoidable mental mistakes. Eleven penalties can lead to eleven reasons why a team loses an important football game. I don’t think the 49ers committed eleven penalties in their first two preseason games combined. Perhaps fatigue led to eleven lapses of judgement. However, the problem could be more systemic.

From the very beginning of the game the unit that performed the worst was the offensive line. Rookie Guard Spencer Burford was flagged multiple times for holding. Worse, the offensive line could not protect Lance, let alone the back up quarterbacks. Lance had no time to throw, and when he did, it was short throws, and the chains didn’t move. However, the most disappointing area of the offensive line was its inability to sustain good run blocks. The run game never got started on Saturday night. The well-coached Texan defensive line wore out the 49ers offensive line the whole game.

The next unit that performed on a subpar level was actually the quarterback position. Both back up’s threw avoidable interceptions into easily recognizable Tampa Two coverage; Lovie Smith’s specialty. Both backup quarterbacks continued to put the ball into compromising positions and more than one interception was dropped or missed. If I had to guess, the two units that are getting their asses handed to them on Friday morning is the offensive line and the quarterback room.

Much will be said about Trey Lance’s performance on Thursday night. However, there isn’t much to take away. First, the throw to Deebo Samuel was on Deebo’s far up field shoulder and was a catchable ball. Deebo had a DB hanging all over him. It was Deebo’s first outing in the preseason. It was a catchable ball. It was also pass interference call the ref’s failed to make. I would not read too much into that incompletion. Lance did throw a pass wide of George Kittle early in the game. That pass was a misfire. Those happen from time to time. It is important not to overreact. Overall, Lance performed adequately. The important takeaway is that he did not make the BIG mistake during his three possessions. He did not turn the ball over. He did his best to keep the chains moving in spite of poor play by his offensive line. We all must remember that it is the preseason. No game plan or scheme has been implemented specifically to attack the Tamp 2 defense.

The 49ers defense doesn’t avoid demerits in this game either. While excellent in the pass rush, the rush defense was non-existent. The Texans rushed for 156 yards. Additionally, the pass coverage was problematic. Several busted coverages occurred. If there wasn’t a busted coverage than an illegal defensive hold or pass interference penalty was called against the coverage unit. Despite that, steady consistent pass rush held both Texan quarterbacks to a mere 94 yards thru the air, while sacking them on three occasions.

Despite my poor assessment of the 49er backup quarterbacks, they still managed to throw for 231 yards. Lance completed seven out of eleven throws for 49 yards for a game total of 280 yards for all three quarterbacks. Brock Purdy led the room connecting on thirteen of this twenty throws for 182 yards and a costly. He also threw a touchdown pass with nine seconds to go in the game. Unfortunately, Willie Snead fumbled, and bumbled the pass away. Though Purdy was the last pick of the draft, he does not lack confidence in himself or his ability. He also has a short memory. He throws a pick or a bad ball and gets back up and grips it and rips it again. At the end of the game, he marched the 49ers the length of the field to put them in scoring position using grit, gumption, and determination. He may actually have a future in this league. We shall see what happens when final cuts occur.

While self-inflicted wounds caused the 49ers demise on Thursday night, the future is still bright. Fourteen starters did not dress (three for injury reasons). Deebo and Kittle were the only 49er superstars to play a down. Danny Gray didn’t get into the game until late and I suspect that was by design to give the coaching staff some game film to evaluate other recievers for final cuts and practice squad roster evaluations. When Gray did get in, he was like 7-11… always open. Gray isn’t just a speedster. He is a route runner. I had the pleasure of watching this game from the club level at NRG stadium and Gray’s talent was on full display as I watched him glide thru his routes. Unfortunately, the two backup quarterbacks only targeted him once. Ross Dwelly led the team in catches, and he likely makes the squad as the number three tight end. Juan Jennings had a couple of spectacular plays. Jennings had one great catch over the middle and one good run after catch play. He will likely make the squad as the team’s third wide receiver. Three defensive ends collected sacks as well. Samson Ebukam, Jordan Willis and Charles Omenihu will all likely make the final 53-man roster as they did last year. Tarvarius Moore showed why the tip drill is so important as he collected a tipped ball in the endzone for an interception in the first half. Finally, the unit that performed the best was the special teams. Mitch Wishnowski showed off his awesome leg, consistently pinning the Texans behind the 20-yard line with his well-placed punts.

There is much to look forward to. It is time to stop complaining about the quarterback position and time to start looking forward to a great football season ahead. The regular season is just around the corner!

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