Loss to Cardinals Exposes 49ers in Bid to Repeat as NFC Champions

Loss to Cardinals Exposes 49ers in Bid to Repeat as NFC Champions
Tony Avelar/Associated PressSunday at Levi’s Stadium, the San Francisco 49ers began a difficult task.The list of teams that have made it back to the Super Bowl after losing it the preceding year is not a long one. The list of teams that have shaken off that loss to win the subsequent Super Bowl is even…
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) passes against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

Tony Avelar/Associated Press

Sunday at Levi’s Stadium, the San Francisco 49ers started a posh assignment.

The list of teams which hold made it reduction to the Clean Bowl after losing it the earlier 365 days is never any longer a protracted one. The list of teams which hold shaken off that loss to lift the subsequent Clean Bowl is even shorter.

San Francisco’s quest to buck these ancient traits obtained off to a shaky originate. After constructing an early lead, the 49ers fell to the Arizona Cardinals, 24-20, and that loss uncovered some scenario areas that would perhaps perhaps well doubtlessly help them from making one other deep playoff speed in 2020.

Things started off effectively adequate. When running reduction Raheem Mostert took a transient jog and blazed 76 yards for a ranking in essentially the most most critical quarter, the 49ers were up 10-0, and it appeared like the personnel would perhaps perhaps cruise to victory.

But San Francisco would ranking honest one more touchdown the the relaxation of the capacity in an offensive performance that used to be more than quite disconcerting.

In final 365 days’s march to the Clean Bowl, the 49ers led the NFC in speeding, averaging 144.1 yards per game. San Francisco came up immediate of that ticket Sunday towards the Cardinals, even supposing no longer by a ton. The personnel’s 123 yards and 4.9 yards per lift seem reliable adequate.

But San Francisco’s running reduction trio of Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon used to be decrease than impressive towards a Cardinals speed defense that used to be 24th in the NFL a 365 days previously. These three backs mixed to post 22 carries for 98 yards—no longer terrifying, but additionally no longer what the 49ers are accustomed to on the bottom. particularly in a carefully contested game.

San Francisco’s inconsistent speed game in Week 1 used to be exemplified by one in every of the sport’s ideally suited plays. Early in the 2d quarter, with the Niners leading 10-7, the personnel faced a 4th-and-aim from contained in the 1-yard line. With a extremely efficient offensive line and a Pro Bowl fullback, it used to be a scenario that used to be money for San Francisco final 365 days.

Tony Avelar/Associated Press

It wasn’t on Sunday. Mostert used to be cut down immediate of the aim line, and the 49ers were became away.

With the speed game working at decrease than height efficiency, additional strain used to be placed on the 49ers’ passing assault. And in the starting up look, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo didn’t hold a terrifying game. The seventh-365 days ancient threw for 259 yards and two rankings without an interception and posted a 103.0 passer ranking.

But nearly half of of Garoppolo’s passing yards came on that long protect-and-speed by Mostert and a 41-yard protect by fullback Kyle Juszczyk. He carried out honest 57.6 percent of his 33 jog attempts—a wide factor in San Francisco converting honest two of 11 third-down attempts.

There had been, to be ideally suited, some cases working towards Garoppolo in this game. He didn’t hold 2d-365 days receiver Deebo Samuel or rookie Brandon Aiyuk. Star tight discontinue George Kittle used to be sidelined hasty by a leg harm. And per 95.7 The Recreation in San Francisco, head coach Kyle Shanahan took his section of the blame for the offense’s performance.

“[Garoppolo] had some ideal plays in there,” he stated. “… He is gotta play better. We gotta play better on offense, and that starts with me.”

Don’t effort Kyle. You were already up subsequent.

Josie Lepe/Associated Press

Shanahan has long been hailed as one in every of the sport’s most revolutionary play-callers. But for the 2d time in as many video games, his play-calling used to be questionable at instances, particularly in the 2d half of. Yes, the speed game wasn’t mountainous Sunday, but leaving slack it entirely on the discontinue of the deciding power used to be puzzling given the personnel’s accidents at receiver.

After Kittle returned to the topic early in the 2d half of, he wasn’t centered for the the relaxation of the sport. Now now not once.

That’s more than puzzling.

With the offense sputtering towards the NFL’s worst defense final 365 days, the NFC’s most realistic defense in 2019 used to be left with limited room for errors. But the Niners didn’t flip in an error-free performance on that aspect of the ball, either. A long way from it.

The 49ers in fact surrendered more yards defensively (404) than the Cardinals gave up on sensible a season previously (402). Arizona piled up 11 more first downs than San Francisco, converted half of its third-down tries and held the ball about three minutes longer than the 49ers.

Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray consistently gashed the 49ers on scrambles, racking up a personnel-excessive 91 yards on the bottom. Huge receiver DeAndre Hopkins fully destroyed Niners cornerback Emmanuel Moseley in protection, hauling in 14 of 16 targets for 151 yards.

Actual as on offense, the teaching workers deserves blame, as effectively. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh apparently made limited effort to regulate to what the Cardinals were doing. He didn’t make a choice up fixed safety abet. No investigate cross-take a look at used to be assign on Murray.

The 49ers honest saved doing the identical thing repeatedly despite the very fact that it wasn’t working. And consequently, they obtained beat.

Tony Avelar/Associated Press

This is never always essentially meant to be a pressing of the proverbial dismay button. The returns of Samuel and Aiyuk will abet the passing game. The defense stays one in every of essentially the most talented in the NFL. One would focal level on that Shanahan and Saleh will be taught from any missteps they took in this loss, and it’s no longer precisely honest to leer a personnel play a sloppy game after an offseason that included zero preseason outings.

On the other hand, the 49ers also manufacture no longer hold a quantity of margin for error. Now now not in 2020. The NFC West would perhaps perhaps well perhaps be the toughest division in the NFL this season. The 49ers are already a game reduction of the Cardinals and arch-rival Seattle Seahawks, who pasted the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1.

San Francisco’s blueprint because the defending NFC champion also paints a aim on its reduction.

Fortuitously, Week 2 gifts a reprieve because the 49ers are on the avenue towards a Current York Jets personnel that would perhaps perhaps well be the worst in the league, adopted by one other tilt in MetLife Stadium the next week towards the Current York Giants.

That stretch would perhaps perhaps gentle offer the Niners a chance to allay the troubles that grew to was evident in Week 1. To make a choice up more healthy and more ambiance pleasant on offense. To tighten issues up on defense.

Losing essentially the most most critical game of the season is never any cause to dismay.

Given how they misplaced it, even supposing? That’s enviornment off for genuine pickle, particularly for a personnel taking a look to create a outing to Tampa in February.

Subsequent

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