For the fourth straight week, the 49ers lost a game by three points or less — and in the final moments of play. 12-9, 41-39, 18-15, and now 26-23.
They’ve become the Steve DeBergs of the NFL, with Brian Hoyer in the starring Deberg role. Just good enough to lose. Always in the hunt, often heroically so, but unable to ever make the winning play. Still, as many have pointed out, it beats being just bad enough to get completely butchered.
But, a loss is a loss. The team is 0-5 and with upcoming road games at Washington and Philadelphia, plus a home game against Dallas, 0-8 is looking like a tad more than a distinct possibility.
Both NaVorro Bowman and Carlos Hyde were benched at various times during Sunday’s games, and neither of them were very happy about it. HC Kyle Shanahan explained it wasn’t because of injury, but he was “… going with the hot hand.” That’s coach-speak for “they were playing like shit.” When you’re benched for Brock Coyle, however, there’s no shit deep enough that a player could be playing in to justify the move.
Maybe it’s just that any wild optimism Shanahan had of making a playoff run this year has been beaten out of him, and he’s going to begin playing the younger guys now and making a run for the top spot in the 2018 Draft. Trading both Hyde and Bowman for draft picks is not out of the question.
Last week rookie WR Trent Taylor flashed his promising skills at slot receiver and this week rookie TE George Kittle joined the party, with 7 catches for 83 yards and a TD. The Niners have not have much production from the TE spot since the peak years of Vernon Davis, four years in the rear view mirror.
The defense allowed our old favorite Frank Gore the necessary yards to move into 7th place on the all time rushing list, but otherwise held the old warrior in check. Not so his understudy, Marlon Mack, who ripped off 91 yards on 9 carries, with a 22 yard TD run in the third quarter.
Third pick in the 2017 draft Solomon Thomas continued his Invisible Man mehness. He has one sack on the year, but it came when he was still stymied at the line of scrimmage when Carson Palmer tried to gimp his way out of a collapsing pocket, allowing Thomas to slide sideways and tackle him for a 0.000001 yard loss.
The 49er secondary was primarily torched by Colts WR T.Y. Hilton, who had 177 yards on 7 catches. Mostly at the expense of CB Dontae “Turnstile” Johnson, who led the Niners in tackles, most of which were far down the field. Johnson’s main claim to fame so far in his career is that he has outlasted Keith Reaser and Kenneth Acker for the “who else do we have to play CB” role.
Is it too soon to circle the November 12th home game against the New York Giants for the battle between two 0-9 teams? A far cry from the 1990 game between these two franchises, who were both 10-1 when they met on December 3rd for NFC supremacy, with the 49ers winning 7-3 on a Monday Night.