49ers Week 2 Team Grades: SF Almost Ends Losing Streak To Seattle With Gutty Road Effort

Team Grades

Eight times in a row now, and 10 times in the last 11 games against their division rivals, the San Francisco 49ers Team Grades have come up short against the Seattle Seahawks. Sunday’s 12-9 loss was especially painful, since the 49ers took a three-point lead into the fourth quarter after battling back from a first-quarter 6-0 deficit. The SF defense did a respectable job overall, although the unit tired drastically late in the game and was unable to preserve the lead.

As for the offense, it still has not scored a touchdown this year, and it’s hard to win in the NFL if you don’t score TDs. Head Coach Kyle Shanahan is going to have to reassess what’s going on with the offense in a very short time, as the 49ers have a short week ahead in advance of a Thursday Night Football date with the Los Angeles Rams at Levi’s Stadium in just a few days.

Offense: C-

This grade reflects the reality of the running game’s success, as the 49ers offense ran for 159 yards on just 19 carries in the game. There were some big chunks gained at once, though, which somewhat distorts the 8.4 yards-per-carry average. However, the offense as a whole couldn’t convert that success into touchdowns, let alone sustained drives. The 49ers earned just 10 first downs overall in the game and held possession of the ball for just 23 minutes overall.

The San Francisco passing game just couldn’t get going at all against the Seahawks defense, either. Throwing the ball 27 times resulted in just 99 total yards, and Seattle registered two sacks and an interception in the process of stifling the 49ers. Quarterback Brian Hoyer was never going to be a long-term solution at the position, so Shanahan has to decide whether or not it’s time to throw rookie QB C.J. Beathard into the fire or continue to struggle throwing the ball with Hoyer.

Defense: A

It’s hard to blame the defense here, since the Seahawks held the ball for 37 minutes in this game. By the middle of the fourth quarter, the 49ers defenders were gassed, and it showed as Seattle cut through the defense easily on its game-winning TD drive—and then again on the game-clinching, clock-wasting possession that ended the game. Overall, San Francisco surrendered 312 total yards in the game, but so much of that (119 yards) came on the final two drives.

For three-plus quarters, the 49ers defense held the Seahawks offense in check. Without starting rookie linebacker Reuben Foster, out with an ankle injury, the S.F. unit held together well for most of the game. LB NaVorro Bowman had 10 tackles, while LB Ray-Ray Armstrong replaced Foster adequately with eight tackles. He did take a silly personal-foul penalty, however. Holding Seattle to under 200 yards through the first 50 minutes of the game was a very good achievement for this rebuilt defense.

Special Teams: A

Punter Bradley Pinion was better than usual, kicking seven balls for almost 44 yards a pop. He had a long effort of 51 yards, while placing four kicks inside the Seattle 20-yard line. The 49ers also did well with kick/punt returns in the game, which helped with field-position battles all day long. Wide receiver Trent Taylor averaged 13.3 yards on three punt returns, definitely showing some upside as an elusive runner in the open field. Placekicker Robbie Gould, the only player that has scored for San Francisco this year so far, was a perfect three-for-three on field-goal attempts.

Coaching: B

It’s realistic to presume that Shanahan was outcoached by Seattle’s Pete Carroll, but the Seahawks had a good defensive plan in place for this game. Shanahan just couldn’t work around the limitations of his offensive talent in the matchup, but he did coach strategically a lot better than he did in Week 1. That’s progress. The 49ers defensive game plan was very good, but the team just ran out of gas at the end as the Seattle offense found its sense of urgency. Shanahan has the team headed in the right direction, and he’s here for the long haul.

Up Next: Los Angeles Rams

It’s a quick turnaround this week for San Francisco, as the 49ers host the L.A. Rams on Thursday Night Football at Levi’s Stadium. The Rams dropped to 1-1 on the year with a 27-20 home loss to the Washington Redskins, but Los Angeles is definitely a much-improved squad from last year as well. It should be a good game on Thursday night in the South Bay if the San Francisco offense can run the ball effectively to give Hoyer some chances to throw the pigskin downfield. Beathard may end up starting later in the year, but on a short week, the 49ers would be nuts to not stick with Hoyer.

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49ers-Seahawks: San Francisco needs Eric Reid to make plays in Week 2

Eric Reid

Eric Reid moved to strong safety for several reasons, the least of which is not his aggressive style of play. He swarms the ball and he hits hard — very hard. But in going over the roster one more time before Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks, I realized I had very little idea of what Reid did or did not accomplish against the Carolina Panthers in Week 1.

That in itself is pretty concerning.

Reid is a playmaker, a safety the San Francisco 49ers need to make big hits, force fumbles, secure interceptions and everything in between. He should flourish at strong safety, but a rather pedestrian performance from him was overshadowed by the poor tackling from Jaquiski Tarttvs. the Panthers.

After watching some more film, I did notice Reid struggling some. He took a poor angle on one Newton run and there was another poor angle/missed tackle that resulted in a Panthers touchdown. Before things got to Reid, other players failed and took the blame, but as the safety, Reid is the last line of defense.

It wasn’t a terrible game and it wasn’t a great game. We didn’t hear his name called often and typically, that’s a net positive for a safety. But the 49ers need more out of Reid going forward, especially when so much has been said about the strength of Seattle’s safeties and how they’ve built their defense on the back of that.

The way I see it, the 49ers are trying to emulate the Seahawks, who were trying to emulate the 49ers, who were trying to emulate … somebody else, I think. Strong safety play is nothing new for the 49ers, but they definitely didn’t have it against the Panthers.

I never wish injury on any player but if Russell Wilson is out of the game, that significantly improves the 49ers chances of winning, that’s just a fact. I’m not rooting for him to get knocked out of the game but if he does it improves our chances to win. And I want them to win.

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Seahawks hope they didn’t spill too many secrets to 49ers

Seahawks

Lynch may someday be able to use some of Carroll’s wisdom in reconstructing the 49ers. For now, San Francisco is in another rebuild as it heads north to face Carroll’s Seahawks on Sunday. In recent seasons, Pete Carroll found himself in production meetings with John Lynch as the television commentator for those games sharing information about the opponent that week and the foundations of his football philosophy.

Carroll certainly didn’t expect that sharing those kinds of details could come back to have an adverse effect someday – except when Lynch took the job as the general manager of Seattle’s division rival, the San Francisco 49ers.

”I don’t think there’s any question, the way he went about finding his information and getting answers to things. He was in-depth beyond where most guys go. He wanted to know why and what were you thinking. Those kinds of things,” Carroll said of those production meetings.

”I didn’t really put it together. I thought he’d be doing `Monday Night Football’ or something. … He was adding up his background and reservoir of information at the time. It makes sense it came out to get him a GM job.”

Eventually Lynch may succeed in making San Francisco a contender again, but the opener showed just how far the 49ers have to go in a 23-3 loss to Carolina. And they will be trying to show improvement against one of the best defenses in the league.

”I don’t think I can complement them enough,” San Francisco QB Brian Hoyer said. ”I think it’s a great combination of scheme and players.”

Seattle does have its issues to solve that were highlighted in the opening loss at Green Bay. The offensive line continues to be the biggest concern, as it was overwhelmed by Green Bay’s defensive front, leaving quarterback Russell Wilson to scramble for safety and disrupting the Seahawks offense.

Take away Wilson’s 40 yards rushing on two scrambles and a 30-yard run from rookie Chris Carson, and the Seahawks rushed for just 20 yards on 15 carries.

For a team that continues to say its offense is predicated by the run, those numbers aren’t acceptable.

”Everyone has to be on the same page on offense for every play to work. Most of the time it was just one guy, one block and that’s what kind of killed the play,” Seattle guard Luke Joeckel said.

Here’s what else to watch as the division rivals meet:

HOYER’S STRUGGLES: Hoyer’s debut for San Francisco didn’t go quite as planned. He committed two turnovers, threw for just 193 yards and led only one scoring drive in a 23-3 loss to Carolina. Now he looks to rebound in one of the game’s loudest venues and against one of its stingiest defenses. Hoyer has never played the Seahawks in his career but knows what to expect.

”The bigger task is their defense. Obviously, the crowd has a lot to do with it, but when you just line up and look at their defense and their scheme, it’s a tough thing to go against,” he said.

WHO’S FIRST?: Who will be Seattle’s primary ball carrier? The expectation is Thomas Rawls will play after sitting out the opener while recovering from a high ankle sprain. If Rawls is healthy he should get the bulk of the carries. Seattle is still trying to find the best use for Eddie Lacy, who had just five carries for 3 yards in the opener.

FILLING A HOLE: The 49ers have a big hole to fill on defense with rookie linebacker Reuben Foster sidelined for a few weeks by a sprained right ankle.

Foster made a big impact in 11 plays in the opener before getting hurt, making three tackles, including one for a loss, and breaking up a pass. San Francisco allowed a 40-yard TD pass on the play after Foster left the game and struggled after Ray-Ray Armstrong took his place.

LINE SHIFT: There’s no doubt Seattle’s offensive line must play better. Seattle appears set with the same starting five for this week, but changes could be coming if the mistakes from the Green Bay game continue.

This also isn’t the same type of defense as Green Bay. San Francisco failed to get a sack last week against Carolina and gave up 116 yards rushing.

”We’re just working, competing every day, but there’s no sense to panic or do anything crazy like that,” Seattle offensive line coach Tom Cable said.

HOME COOKIN’: Seattle has won the past six meetings against the 49ers in Seattle. The Seahawks are also undefeated in home openers under Carroll. Their most recent home-opening loss came in 2008 – Mike Holmgren’s last season – a 33-30 overtime loss to … San Francisco.

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49ers Sign Jarnor Jones to the Practice Squad

Jarnor Jones

The San Francisco 49ers announced on Tuesday that they have signed defensive back Jarnor Jones to the team’s practice squad and released linebacker Ben Boulware.

Jones (6-3, 209) was originally signed by the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent on May 1, 2017 and later waived by the team on September 1.

A 23-year-old native of Lithonia, GA, Jones attended Iowa State University for two seasons (2015-16) after previous stops at North Carolina State University (2012-13) and Georgia Military College (2014). With the Cyclones, he appeared in 24 games (11 starts) and registered 78 tackles, 11 passes defensed, three sacks and one interception.

Boulware (6-1, 235) originally signed to the team’s practice squad on September 5, 2017.

The San Francisco 49ers made a roster move on Tuesday, swapping out a player from their practice squad. The team announced they have signed defensive back Jarnor Jones and released linebacker Ben Boulware.

Jones (6’3, 205 pounds) entered the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons this year as an undrafted free agent. He was cut on September 1, and has been a free agent since. He attended Iowa State University for two seasons (2015-16), and before that attended North Carolina State University (2012-13) and Georgia Military College (2014). At Iowa State, he made 11 starts and appeared in 24 total games, finishing with 78 tackles, 11 passes defensed, three sacks, and one interception.

I’m not sure what the reasoning would be behind swapping in a safety for a linebacker on the practice squad. I would not be surprised if it was to help them prepare a bit for the Seattle Seahawks secondary. The practice squad will do scout team work, so it is possible that played into it. Or, they had an eye on Jones, and Boulware just didn’t do enough in one week to justify keeping him around.

Here’s the 49ers full practice squad:

QB Nick Mullens
RB Jeremy McNichols
WR DeAndre Carter
WR DeAndre Smelter
TE Cole Hikutini
OL John Flynn
OL Darrell Williams Jr.
DL Noble Nwachukwu
CB Asa Jackson
DB Jarnor Jones

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San Francisco 49ers 23-3 Week 1 loss vs Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers

Three things you need to know about the 49ers’ 23-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers in the opening week of the regular season on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium.

1. The kid is all right
Things did not look good when 49ers rookie linebacker Reuben Foster went down in obvious pain with a right leg injury during the first quarter. Foster is a dynamic player. He might already be the best player on the team. And the 49ers’ defense got off to a good start with Foster flashing his sideline-to-sideline play making ability.

Foster’s injury was reason for massive concern, as it prompted the 49ers’ medical staff to bring a cart onto the field to take him back to the locker room for further observation. Thankfully for the 49ers, X-rays were negative. Although Foster was finished for the day, he still walked back to the sideline and stood to watch the remainder of the game.

Carolina Panthers The early indications are that Foster’s injury could keep him out a week or two, but a long-term injury was avoided. Foster promised, “I’ll be back soon. Very, very, very soon.”

2. Help is on the way
The 49ers knew they needed help at the guard positions. On the day of the 49ers’ final exhibition game, general manager John Lynch completed a trade to acquire former first-round draft pick Laken Tomlinson from the Detroit Lions.

Left guard Zane Beadles has really struggled, beginning in training camp. On Sunday, he surrendered a sack-fumble against Carolina Panthers defensive lineman Wes Horton in the first half that led to Carolina’s first touchdown. Let’s not put too much blame on Beadles, but it certainly looks as if it’s only a matter of time before Tomlinson replaces him.

Running back Carlos Hyde did OK with 45 yards on nine carries, but they fell behind by so much that they had to abandon the run game in the second half. The 49ers gave up four sacks and at least eight quarterback hits. And of all the places where the 49ers had issues on Sunday, the spot where they might have a more talented player currently behind a starter is at left guard.

3. It’s going to take time
Coach Kyle Shanahan’s offensive system is proven, but it also might be too complex to expect this collection of players to get it mastered so early in his tenure. The 49ers had pre-snap penalties, issues with the play clock and more than a few physical errors, too.

Quarterback Brian Hoyer was largely accurate, completing 24 of 35 pass attempts (68.6 percent). Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin should have caught Carolina Panthers Hoyer’s first deep ball, which almost assuredly would have led to the 49ers taking a first-quarter lead. Other times, Hoyer seemed to hold the ball too long when passes should have come out sooner.

Hoyer’s third-quarter interception — a play that basically eliminated the possibility of a 49ers comeback — was a matter of a demanding play call coupled with Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly doing an outstanding job of baiting the quarterback. Hoyer turned his back entirely to the defense to sell a play fake. Kuechly had diagnosed exactly what was happening and got into position for the pick while Hoyer was not looking down the field. Carolina Panthers Kuechly stepped in front of 49ers tight end George Kittle for the interception.

Let’s make one thing clear about the 49ers’ quarterback situation: There is a significant gap between Hoyer and rookie backup quarterback C.J. Beathard, so there’s no reason to even be thinking along those lines at this point.

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Panthers vs 49ers: Prediction and Preview

Prediction

Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers preview, Prediction. Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, Levi’s Stadium. TV: FOX, Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman, Peter Schrager. 20th regular-season meeting. Panthers lead series, 12-7. These teams were both in the NFC West when Carolina joined the NFL, so they met twice a season from 1995 to 2001. Last year, the 49ers were the opponent for Carolina’s home opener and the Panthers won 46-27. San Francisco won the lone postseason matchup, in Charlotte in 2013.

GAMEDATE: 9/10/17

KEYS TO THE GAME: Carolina QB Cam Newton, who had shoulder surgery in March, got just one series of work in the preseason, so his readiness is a question. But he has good weapons in TE Greg Olsen, WR Kelvin Benjamin and rookie RB Christian McCaffrey.

The 49ers, under new coach Kyle Shanahan, figure to try to grind it out with RB Carlos Hyde and be efficient in the passing game with new QB Brian Hoyer.

The 49ers might not have the offensive firepower to match points with the Panthers, but they have the type of athleticism in their defensive front seven to make things tough on Newton.

49ers fans are expecting big things from defensive newcomers Solomon Thomas, Reuben Foster and Elvis Dumervil, and here’s an immediate opportunity for each to make a name for himself.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

–Panthers QB Cam Newton vs. 49ers DT Solomon Thomas. The intriguing aspect of Thomas, the No. 3 pick in the draft, is his ability to come at quarterbacks from just about every angle. That includes the interior of the line, a unique path of attack in that it puts him in the quarterback’s vision at all times. How critical is it to pressure Newton? He threw 12 interceptions in the nine starts that he lost last year, and just two in the six starts that he won.

–49ers TE George Kittle vs. Panthers MLB Luke Kuechly. The Panthers struggled to contain tight ends last season, giving up 12 touchdowns, the second-most in the league. One of the 12 came when the 49ers’ Vance McDonald stunned them with a 75-yarder in Week 2. The 49ers let McDonald go in a preseason trade with the believe that Kittle, a rookie, can be immediately productive.

PANTHERS NOTABLE ROOKIE: Running back Christian McCaffrey. The Panthers aren’t deflecting suggestions that McCaffrey, a former Stanford standout, will hold key roles in the offense to alleviate pressure on quarterback Cam Newton. He also might help as a return man. McCaffrey’s first NFL game will involve a matchup with 49ers DE Solomon Thomas, his former roommate at Stanford.

49ERS NOTABLE ROOKIE: Linebacker Reuben Foster. The 49ers believe they stole him when he fell to the late first round. His big hit on fellow rookie Dalvin Cook on the first play of the third preseason game is expected to be one of many that measure on the Richter scale.

FAST FACTS: Carolina QB Cam Newton passed for 3,509 yards in 2016 & has at least 3,000 yards in all six career seasons. He’s the only player in NFL history with 20,000 passing yards (21,772) and 3,000 rushing yards (3,566) in his first six seasons. In the last game vs. the 49ers, he threw for 353 yards and four TDs. … Carolina TE Greg Olsen had a team-high 1,073 receiving yards in 2016 and became the first tight end in NFL history to record three consecutive seasons with 1,000 yards. He had 122 receiving yards and a TD in the last meeting. … DE Julius Peppers, 37, rejoins Carolina. He spent his first eight seasons with the team (2002-09) and ranks fifth in NFL history with 143.5 sacks. … QB Brian Hoyer makes his San Francisco debut. In six games with Chicago in 2016, he passed for 1,445 yards, six TDs and no interceptions, with a 98 rating. … 49ers RB Carlos Hyde rushed for a career-high 988 yards and six TDs last season. … WR Pierre Garcon makes his 49ers debut. He caught 79 passes for 1,041 yards with Washington last season. He led the NFL with 113 receptions under Shanahan with Washington in 2013. … LB Elvis Dumervil makes his 49ers debut as well. He has 99 career sacks, third most among active players.

PREDICTION: The running games are likely to decide this one, and Jonathan Stewart and McCaffrey look like a winning combo.

Prediction: Panthers, 20-17.

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