49ers: Inside the Game, Featuring the QBs, RBs, and O-Line

Still seeking their first taste of victory of the season, the San Francisco 49ers took on the Seattle Seahawks, the class of the division the past seven years, in a road test up north, to the notoriously loud and hostile Pacific Northwest. Niners Live kicked off the week with a Pre-Game look at the matchups and storylines that would come to define the test the 49ers faced this week. Following that up with a Game Summary, and now a breakdown of the quarterbacks’, running backs’ and offensive line’s performances from the game.

 

The Faithful, and the team, were eager this week to see how the team would bounce back from last week’s drubbing at the hands of the Carolina Panthers 23-3. Also interesting to the Faithful, was how the adjustments made this week would work out toward moving this team closer to the win column. Changes to the starting offensive line, where Zane Beadles recorded the lowest Pro Football Focus grade of all guards who played last week (21.3 PFF Grade) and has been replaced by trade pickup Laken Tomlinson, were highly anticipated. Let’s see how that change impacted the team this week.

QUARTERBACKS:

Grade: F

Quarterback Brian Hoyer took his first trip up to the confines of Century Link Field in his career. In a place known to rattle offenses, Hoyer looked like anything but a seasoned veteran.  Behind the revamped offensive line, Hoyer finished the game 15-27 passing, 99 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception, while being sacked two times for 10 yards. His passer rating was 48.2.

Hoyer opened the game by over throwing a wide-open Marquise Goodwin along the sidelines. On the first play of the second drive, Hoyer threw an interception to linebacker Bobby Wagner, which looked eerily similar to the one thrown to Panther’s linebacker Luke Kuechly last week. The excuse last week was that Hoyer’s back was turned due to play-action. This week told the truth, as Hoyer threw this interception to Wagner on a shotgun play where his eyes never came off the defense. The truth of the matter is, Hoyer does not account for or recognize the middle linebacker on passing plays.

Hoyer’s passing would not improve throughout the game. He consistently threw off target to his pass catchers. Passes were routinely thrown behind receivers, an indication that he is late on his reads. While there was a slight rain, that cannot be an excuse for throwing passes behind the receivers.

This week is a short week with the game against the Los Angeles Rams being played on Thursday. That means there will be 10 days before the next game, enough time to make a switch at the quarterback position. Hoyer is now on notice to lose his job if he cannot find a way to get the offense into the end zone for the first time this season, and find a way to win, while directing this offense to look like a Shanahan coached unit.

Running Backs:

Grade: A+

Carlos Hyde came into this game looking for his first 100-yard game of the season against a team he has achieved that mark in during both of his last two games against them. He would get it, as Hyde would see his rushing totals for this game rack up to 124 yards on 15 carries for an average of 8.3 yards per carry. In the passing game, he added 19 yards on three receptions and did a nice job in pass protection. Hyde enjoys playing against the ‘Hawks.

Opening the game again running aggressively with a run to the right side, Hyde was then quiet until the end of the first half. Hyde took advantage of a huge hole opened by Tomlinson for a 61-yard gain, the longest of his career so far. Unfortunately, a sack on Hoyer ended the drive in the red zone, where the team only saw three points go up on the board. Hyde followed up that run by ending the half with another long gainer that allowed the team to tie the score at six going into the half.

Continuing his strong play into the second half, Hyde was the only offense the team could muster all day.

Kyle Juszczyk was an active participant in the game plan as a lead blocker, showing he is still the best fullback in the league, helping Hyde to the top-ranked running performance through the end of the afternoon game. 

Matt Breida saw action spelling Hyde throughout the game, and did a great job impersonating Hyde’s effort. Finishing with four carries for 35 yards and an 8.8 yard per carry  average.

Offensive Line:

Grade: B

Newly inserted left guard Laken Tomlinson has faced the Seahawks before, and played well, earning the highest lineman grade from Pro Football Focus during the Detroit Lions loss in the 2016 playoffs. In this game, Hoyer, Hyde, and the rest of the 49ers offense were hoping for a repeat performance from Tomlinson.

Run Blocking:

On the first drive, Shanahan opens the game going to the right side and Hyde picked up a nice gain. But when needing one yard, the middle of the line was unable to generate the needed push to propel Hyde to a first down, causing the offense to go quickly, three and out.

Late in the first half Tomlinson showed his worth, opening a large hole for Hyde to bust through on his way to a 61-yard gain, the longest of the season so far. And. The first positive sign we have seen on the left side of the line.

Beginning in the fourth quarter the offense took the ball and behind strong blocking from the line, the running backs marched the team down into the red-zone to take the lead, 9-6.

Pass Protection:

Hoyer was given enough time to operate this game as he was sacked only twice for 10 yards. The issues in the passing game could not be placed on the offensive line.

What to Expect against the Rams:

Back-to-back division games, this one coming on a short week, will provide an early test for the team and coaching staff. Less time to heal up and adjust will mean most of the lineup will remain status quo.

Offensive line play will be paramount as the Rams got back Pro Bowl Nose Tackle Aaron Donald last week. Donald is one of the league’s best and most disruptive defensive players and will need to be contained if the team hopes to have any success in this second division game of the season.

If the time is given, we should see Hoyer take advantage of an unheralded secondary using his passing weapons to overwhelm the Rams with speed and veteran savvy. If he cannot, we may see the last of Hoyer this season, and the C.J. Beathard era may get its chance to take off.

Hyde should also feast on this defense if the line does its job successfully.

49er updates, interviews and news:

Post game quotes,  Hoyer recaps his playfull highlights, and here’s what head coach Kyle Shanahan had to say about Sunday’s performance (via the team’s website).

Please join us again soon on Niners Live, the home of the faithful fan and analyst from an objective/analytical lens, of course.

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All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.comPro Football Focus49ers.comESPN.comNFL.com unless otherwise indicated. AuthorEdward Erving Staff Writer @NinersLive.net and Content Creator, EditorSequoia Sims