Niners Live kicked off the NFL season the only way we know how; with our Pregame Marquee Match ups and Storylines to watch vs. The Carolina Panthers. And now we drop an objective post-game review of reality; New Players; New Regime; Same Self-Inflicted Wounds- Final score: Carolina Panthers 23 to San Francisco 49ers 3.
Defense, the Highlights
- Eric Reid accounted for five total tackles; three of which were solo. Reid continues to kneel down during the national anthem.
- Reuben Foster had three solo tackles total, one pass defended and a tackle for loss. Before going out with what appeared to be a lower/leg/ankle injury, was all over the field with extreme violence.
- Ray-Ray Armstrong filled in for an injured Reuben Foster. Armstrong accounted for six tackles total, one coming solo.
- DeForest Buckner accounted for six tackles total, one coming solo and one QB hit.
- Elvis Dumervil, the veteran pass-rusher, had nothing recorded other than a QB hit/pressure that allowed the 49ers to get the Panthers off the field (which was huge).
- Jaquiski Tartt got the start in place of Jimmie Ward. Tartt finished with 7 solo tackles total, one pass defended and a one-handed interception to go along with a 37-yard return.
- Dontae Johnson was very solid in coverage against the Panthers mighty taller receivers, such as Kelvin Benjamin; he accounted for two solo tackles total.
- Rashard Robinson had four tackles, two being solo, one forced/strip fumble and recovery to set the offense up to score, which they couldn’t capitalize on.
Defense, the Lowlights
- Ahkello Witherspoon was inactive.
- Aaron Lynch was inactive.
- Arik Armstead had three solo tackles total and no sacks or QB hits.
- Eli Harold had two tackles, all solo, and no sacks or QB hits.
- Tank Carradine had two tackles, one being solo and no sacks or QB hits.
- Dekoda Watson accounted for one tackle and no sacks or QB hits.
- Earl Mitchell accounted for two tackles, one being solo, one pass defended and no sacks or QB hits.
- Jaquiski Tartt makes both lists because his missed tackle led to a touchdown and he had a 15-yard penalty for hitting a defenseless receiver.
- Xavier Cooper had one solo tackle and no sacks or QB hits.
- Solomon Thomas, the prize #3 overall pick in the draft, recorded two solo tackles, one tackle for a loss and no sacks or QB hits. Note: Was flagged for being offside.
- NaVorro Bowman had five total tackles, three being solo and no sacks, QB hits, turnovers or passes defended nor a real game-changing impact in this game. Bowman called out Luke Kuechly early in the week insinuating he was the better of the two linebackers. Kuechly clearly outplayed Bowman in this game and had his blue print/signature impact all over this game (stats courtesy of ESPN.com).
Defensive Summary Breakdown
The 49ers forced two turnovers, tying the turnover battle with the Panthers 2-2. The defense allowed 287 yards of total offense on 63 plays. The Panthers went 7 of 13 on third down and tallied up (20) first downs in the game (8) passing, (9) rushing, (3) by way of penalties. The 49ers defense (featuring the secondary) held a rusty Cam Newton to only 14 of 25 passing for 171 yards at 6.8 yards per pass play, two touchdowns, and one interception. Newton still managed to generate a QB rating of 87.2 while being off his game (summary stats courtesy of ESPN.com).
Jimmie Ward (Eraser) when will he return to the lineup? Inquiring minds would like to know.
Important to note: The 49ers’ defense had no sacks and just two hits, something Niners Live pointed out was not going to get it done against Newton when we dropped; The 49ers must hit Cam Newton early and often with “Extreme Violence.”
Compared to the 2016 season, this defense played light years better and at least showed signs and flashes of hope and optimism that there could be a lot better days ahead. The defense gave the 49ers a chance to compete for a win; unfortunately, the offense didn’t deliver or show up as a whole in the complementary fashion that the sporting world/fan base expected. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh deserves some credit for a first time (rookie) play caller; he held his own and had his unit ready to play at home.
Special Teams, the Highlights
- Brad Pinion, the punter, accounted for four punts for 163 yards for an average of 40.8 net, one pinned inside the 20 and his longest being 49 yards.
- Robbie Gould had his one and only kick of 44 yards go up and in through the up rights for a 100% conversion rate.
Special Teams, the Lowlights
- Victor Bolden Jr. was inactive.
- Raheem Mostert no return yards.
- Trent Taylor returned one punt for nine yards.
Offense, the Highlights
- Pierre Garcon caught six passes for 81 yards on 10 targets while averaging 13.5 yards per catch.
- Carlos Hyde had nine carries for 45 yards at 5.0 yards a pop to go with six catches on six targets for 32 yards at 5.3 yards a catch.
- George Kittle had five catches for 27 yards on six targets at 5.4 yards a catch and a crucial false start (penalty) to stall a drive.
Offense, the Lowlights
- Marquise Goodwin – what deep threat? Goodwin had three catches on six targets for 21 yards at 7.0 yards a catch and no touchdowns or impact plays. Goodwin dropped an under thrown ball by Brian Hoyer that landed right in his bread basket and he knows it; “There’s no excuses on that,” Goodwin said. “It was wide and clear. Everyone saw what happened. It went right through my hands … You heard the crowd like, ‘Ahhh.’ The energy left for a little bit. And that’s not what you want in a football game, especially with a new team” (via Eric Branch of the SF Chronicle).
- Brian Hoyer went 24 of 35 for 193 yards at 5.5 yards per pass play, zero touchdowns, one interception and one fumble while generating a Total QBR of 13.2 and a passer rating of 70.3. Hoyer, when he did have time to throw the ball, showed signs of being his career 59% completion below average self. He was inaccurate at times, lacking repetitive arm strength with under thrown balls (see Goodwin) as well as over throwing receivers on another play, like Goodwin, which would have surely been a touchdown — down the left side of the field. Last but not least, he missed Goodwin again when he was wide open in the back of the end zone on a roll out pass.
- Trent Taylor had one catch for eight yards on one target.
- Aldrick Robinson had one catch for seven yards on two targets.
- The entire offensive line makes this list: The 49ers’ O-line gave up four sacks, eight QB hits along with QB pressures throughout the game. They weren’t that much better in the run game outside of Hyde’s 5.0 yards a carry. The 49ers managed just 51 yards rushing for a 3.4 average per gain.
- Kyle Juszczyk, the $20 million fullback, had a dropped pass, missed a block of LB Shaq Thompson that led to a key sack that killed yet another drive. The “Juice” also didn’t convert on a 4th and 1 play and production-wise, he had one carry for no yards and two catches for 17 yards (an average of 8.5 a catch) on four targets. His season debut left much to be desired.
- Matt Brieda had four rushes for 11 yards at 2.8 yards per rush and no catches or targets. The o-line can share some of this blame.
Offensive Summary Breakdown
The 49ers had a measly 13 first downs (2) rushing, (10) passing (1) penalty; converting on third down 2 out of 11 and 1 for 4 on 4th down while only running 54 plays for 217 yards – the second-fewest yards in their past 25 games. And, they were shutout in the first half for the first time since Dec. 20, 2015.
The time of possession was lopsided, SF 25:39 and Car 34:21. The 49ers’ offense didn’t help their defense stay off the field, and as aforementioned, the offensive line remains a work in progress. However, what keeps popping off the T.V. screen is the continued illegal procedures, false starts, and holding penalties on the offense which can account for most of the 10-74 yards the 49ers racked up in penalties.
Niners Live thoughts: We would have liked to see more of the duel threats Breida and Mostert in the game plan, running and catching. Head coach Kyle Shanahan’s play calling could have been better (red zone) as well as his composure on the sideline during the game.
Jeremy Kerley, who the 49ers released recently; accounted for 141 first downs on 246 receptions while averaging 11.8 yards per catch in his career. In 2016, out of 64 catches, 33 of them went for first downs for an astonishing 51.6 percent (Espn.com). Not to mention he played in 90 games over his six-year career. Kerley was credited with only one drop pass to his name in 2016 (see Goodwin and Robinson).
New Players; New Regime; Same -Inflicted Wounds
With the new regime on the scene, the 49ers have 16 players carried over from the 2016 roster, 37 players out of 53 are 26 years and younger and yet we still see some of the same self-inflicted wounds as last season. These include: the same lack of ability to put points on the board, the same lack of discipline (penalties), the same lack of ability to catch/drop the ball in key moments of the game, the same lack of ability to protect the quarterback, the same lack of ability to get productive/efficient quarterback play, the same lack of ability to sustain drives on offense to keep the defense fresh and off the field. And the same lack of ability to sack the quarterback and provide game-changing hits on defense.
Think that’s too harsh? Or too much of a dose of reality? Carlos Hyde echoed some of those same sentiments after the game when it came to believing they had shot their own self in the foot ala self-inflicted wounds. The 49ers must put this loss behind them and go out and get a win on the road against the division rival Seattle Seahawks this Sunday.
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All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus, 49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author, Content Creator, Editor, Sequoia Sims .