Heartbreak Hotel: In the Moment of Truth, the 49ers Fall Short, yet again

Niners Live, heading into week five of the NFL schedule, provided the Faithful the: Pregame Marquee Match-ups to watch vs. the Indianapolis Colts.  And now we drop our post-game recap, grades, assessments an another heartbreaking reality check: Heartbreak Hotel: In the Moment of Truth the 49ers fall short, yet again on the road against Frank the Tank Gore and the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Final score: SF 23 Indy 26.


Defense, the Highlights 

  • Aaron Lynch accounted for 2 tackles, 1 being solo and 3 QB hits.
  • Ray-Ray Armstrong accounted for 7 tackles, 6 being solo, one pass defense and the play of the game — a clutch interception in the end zone to help force the game into overtime.
  • NaVorro Bowman had 10 total tackles and 5 being solo. Bowman had a stinger in the game and was subbed out during the game in favor of Brock Coyle and how did he take that? Here’s Bo: “We had a conversation and I don’t know,” Bowman said. “They’re doing what they want to do. I don’t know. I don’t like it. No one likes coming out of the game, but I’m a team player” (via Eric Branch).
  • DeForest Buckner accounted for 5 tackles, 1 being solo, .5 sacks, 2.5 tackles for a loss, and 2 QB hits. Buckner had several pressures in this game and was dominant early.
  • Arik Armstead accounted for 5 tackles, 1 being solo, .5 sacks, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 pass defended and 1 QB hit. Armstead, although it wasn’t pretty by any means, had his best game of the season all around, production wise.
  • Elvis Dumervil recorded 3 total tackles, 1 being solo, 1.5 sacks, 1.5 tackles for loss and 2 QB hits.
  • Jaquiski Tartt finished with 7 tackles, 3 being solo, .5 sacks, .5 tackle for a loss and 1 QB hit.
  • Brock Coyle had 3 total tackles, 2 being solo, .5 sacks, .5 tackle for a loss and 1 QB hit while subbing in for Bowman.
  • Xavier Cooper had 2 solo tackles total, .5 sacks, .5 tackle for a loss and 1 QB hit.
  • Bradley Pinion / Special teams — had 6 punts for 274 yards with a 45.7 average and pinned the Colts inside the 20-yard line just once.

Defense, the Lowlights

  • Ahkello Witherspoon was active for the first time, and had one solo tackle total and left the game early with a head injury.
  • Rashard Robinson accounted for 3 tackles, 1 being solo, .5 tackle for a loss and two passes defended. He was beaten several times, had missed tackles and pass interference/holding penalties called against him.
  • Dontae Johnson accounted for 9 tackles, 8 being solo and 1 tackle for a loss. He was beaten several times, had missed tackles, and no passes defended. His stats are inflated because he was getting beat so bad, but still close enough to make the tackle; same for Williams down below.
  • K’Waun Williams had 4 tackles, 3 being solo and 1 pass defended. He has to share the blame with allowing Marlon Mack to run loose in the secondary and was beaten at times in the secondary.
  • Earl Mitchell accounted for 2 solo tackles total. Look out here comes D.J. Jones.
  • Solomon Thomas, the prize #3 overall pick in the draft, recorded 2 tackles and .5 tackle for a loss.
  • Eli Harold had 1 QB hit.
  • Jimmie Ward accounted for 4 total tackles, 3 being solo.
  • Lorenzo Jerome had 1 solo tackle total.
  • Elijah Lee one solo tackle total (box score stats courtesy of ESPN.com).

Defensive Summary Breakdown

The 49ers Defense forced (1) turnover which won the turnover battle against Indy (0). The defense generated four sacks, 10 tackles for losses, 12 QB hits and several pressures against the Colts’ offensive’ line and quarterback Jacoby Brissett. The defense allowed 447 yards of total offense on 73 plays and allowed the Colts to go 8 out of 16 on third down 50%. The Colts were held to just 1-4 in the red zone. The 49ers’ defense gave up 159 yards rushing at 4.5 yards per rush 91 yards coming from Marlon Mack. The Colts’ offense totaled (25) first downs in the game (14) passing, (9) rushing, (2) by way of penalties. The 49ers’ defense (secondary) allowed Brissett to throw for 314 yards passing (7 catches and 177 yards came from T.Y. Hilton ) while completing 22/34 for zero touchdowns and one interception at 9.2 per pass play while generating a QBR 42.7 and a passer rating of 82.2 (summary stats courtesy of ESPN.com).

Let’s look a little deeper: The secondary has issues by way of giving up big plays and penalties at will, week in and week out, mainly the two starting cornerbacks — Robinson and Johnson. However, they aren’t alone, and we will touch on that shortly. The 49ers’ defense can’t get off the field on third down and when the game is on the line, they mostly can’t get a crucial sack or key pressure when needed to ice or seal a victory. The 49ers are slowly, but surely, trending back to not being able to stop the run. As of 10/9/2017, the 49ers are giving up 116.6 yards a game on the ground and are ranked 30th in total defense.

Grades for the defense break down as follows

  • Robinson and Johnson – Took turns getting abused by T.Y Hilton. Both gave up big plays and catches to go with key penalties at will along with missed tackles in the open field and helped allow Mack to run wild in the secondary. The starting corners grade out as an (F).
  • Williams – Don’t let the stats fool you, he had a mixed bag of reviews to say the least, in the running game (missed tackles) and in coverage he (was beaten). Williams grades out as a (D+).
  • Ward the Eraser – Didn’t have an impact in the game and was put in an awkward position to play nickel and corner due to injuries to Robinson, Jackson, and Witherspoon. However, was still beating in coverage and had missed tackles in the secondary and helped allow Mack to run all over the secondary (not good for the last line of defense). Ward grades out as a (D).
  • Tartt (Box) – Had the most production of any member of the secondary posting a half of a sack and tackle for loss while playing in the box, but helped give up the edge to Mack’s long run around the edge. Tartt grades out as a (C).
  • Linebackers – Again, mixed reviews because the production is there. Bowman – 10 tackles, Coyle – half a sack, and Armstrong – had a key interception in the end zone to give the 49ers a chance at overtime. However, several missed tackles and gave up 159 yards rushing at 4.5 yards a rush and allowed Mack to average 10.1 yards on the ground and surrendered two rushing TD’s. This unit grades out as a (C).
  • Defensive Line – Armstead probably had his best all-around game (see highlights), Buckner was productive and a force early on, Elvis was in the building yet again, Cooper and Jones flashed some production/contributions as well. Note: 9 of the 12 hits came from the D-line and 3 out of the 4 sacks came from the D-line as well. Having said that, this unit is the first line of defense and helped give up 159 yards rushing (91 Mack), and no key sacks or disruptive plays in overtime when they were needed most. This unit grades out as a (B-).
  • DC Robert Saleh – his defense can’t get off the field on third down, which has been the problem all year, along with key defensive penalties. He had some challenges calling plays with players going down in the secondary at times but some of the play calling comes again with mixed reviews. In the end, his unit gave up 447 yards of total offense and couldn’t stop the pass or the run and when it had a chance to stop the game-winning drive in the moment of truth, his unit failed to deliver yet again. Saleh allowed Brissett, who had less than six career starts under his belt, and a third-string running back named Mack to be difference makers in the game, along with, of course, T.Y Hilton. Saleh grades out at a (D-).

Offense, the Highlights

  • Brian Hoyer completed 29 of 46 passes for 353 yards at 7.7 per pass attempt, two touchdowns and zero interceptions while generating a QBR of 60.2 and a 101.1 RTG. Hoyer was 12/17 for 170 yards at halftime 92.8 RTG) and helped lead the come back to send the game into overtime. He didn’t turn the ball over, but did have some inaccurate throws and held onto the ball too long.
  • Pierre Garcon had 8 catches for 94 yards at an average of 11.8 on 11 targets and had a drop in the game.
  • Marquise Goodwin had 5 catches for 116 yards at an average of 23.2 on 11 targets. This was Goodwin’s best game by far, and he made some big-time catches in this game.
  • George Kittle had 7 catches for 83 yards at an 11.9 average on 9 targets and a TD. He did drop an inaccurate TD pass from Hoyer. When the 49ers needed him the most, he delivered 5 catches for 73 yards and a TD on the last scoring drive to tie the game. Best game by far.
  • Kyle Juszczyk, the $20 million fullback, had 3 rushes for 3 yards. Juice did catch 2 passes for 14 yards on 4 targets for a shuffle pass TD and was solid in the blocking department.
  • Matt Breida had 10 rushes for 49 yards at 4.9 yards per rush. Breida did catch 3 passes for 22 yards on 5 targets (dual threat), but didn’t get enough touches.
  • Robbie Gould / Special Teams – was 3 out of 3 for field goals, with his longest being 43.
  • The entire offensive line makes this list: The offensive line gave up only two sacks and just five QB hits; much improved from last week.

Offense, the Lowlights

  • Carlos Hyde had 8 carries for 11 yards at 1.4 yards a rush, along with 1 catch for 7 yards on one target. Hyde wasn’t himself due to the lingering hip injury and he found his snaps reduced in favor of the hot hand Breida. How did Hyde respond? “I don’t like it, but my boy Matt (Breida) is a good back,” Hyde said. “He did a good job going in there making plays.”
  • Aldrick Robinson had 1 catch for 5 yards on one target.
  • Trent Taylor had 1 catch for six yards on two targets.
  • Garrett Celek had 1 catch for six yards on one target.
  • The entire offensive line makes this list: the 49ers managed just 66 yards total at 3.0 yards a carry on the ground along with costly penalties.

Offensive Summary Breakdown

The 49ers had (23) first downs, (3) rushing, (19) passing, (1) penalty; converting on third down just 4 out of 14 times and 2 for 2 on 4th down and were 2 for 3 in the red zone. The 49ers accounted for 70 plays for 402 yards; 336 of those yards were from the passing game on 11 drives for 7.0 yards per play average. On the ground, the 49ers managed just 66 yards total at 3.0 yards a carry. Staying true to being undisciplined, the 49ers had 10 penalties for 77 yards.

Important to note: The offense did score two touchdowns as it tried to rally late in the second half playing with a nothing to lose mentality at this point in the game.

The time of possession was, SF 31:05 and Indy 37:17. The 49ers’ offensive line gave up two sacks and just five QB hits. Although not great by any means, the offensive line played better this week than last week and gave Hoyer opportunities to make plays in the pocket throughout this game. The running game didn’t get on track by the yard total and average per gain; some of that blame goes to the O-line for creating holes and sustaining blocks or lack thereof and the other goes to Hyde’s ineffectiveness (11 yards on 8 carries at 1.4 yards per rush), mostly due to his hip injury. Self-inflicted wounds just continue to haunt this team and this offense by way of costly holding penalties, false starts, drop passes, inaccurate throws and at times, bad play calling just simply killed potential scoring drives.

Grades for the offense break down as follows

  • Brian Hoyer – Played, arguably, his best game (see offensive highlight stats) solid objective (B).
  • WR’s and TE’s -Played arguably their best games combined (see highlight stats) these units almost posted two one hundred yard receivers (Goodwin/Garcon) and nearly a hundred yard tight end that scored his first touchdown (Kittle) (B+) the drops and no TD’s by a wide receiver stop these (combined units) from grading out as an (A).
  • RB’s/FB – The 66 yards at 3.0 yards a pop won’t get it done (see Hyde). However, the production of “Juice” catching a touchdown/blocking, Breida’s 4.9 yards a carry and being a dual-threat while subbing for a beat up Carlos Hyde (hip) this unit grades out at a (B).
  • Offensive Line – Rushing game as seen above. Gave up only two sacks (one by Joe Staley), five QB hits, several pressures, but had several costly penalties on crucial parts of the game, (Tomlinson, Laken holding) and (Trent Brown false start) this unit grades out at a (C-).
  • OC/HC Kyle Shanahan – Some of the play calling could have been better, and at times left you scratching your head, but he did have his good moments calling plays. However, the more glaring problem here is that he didn’t go to Matt Breida who had the hot hand early and often when Hyde was clearly ineffective. Shanahan took too long to make the adjustment; this was Breida’s game to be had, you see; the Colts didn’t make that mistake with Mack their third-string running back who broke the game open. The high penalties, especially on offense and going 4-14 on third down, are all on his watch. Shanahan grades out at a (C-).

Heartbreak Hotel: In the Moment of Truth, the 49ers fall short, yet again

Quarterback Brian Hoyer and the offense led by Kyle Shanahan’s scheme, clock management and play calling, almost did enough in the moment of truth by tying the game to send it into overtime. However, when they had their chance to put the game away they could not deliver in that moment of truth because of lack of execution, mental errors and self-inflicted wounds. But they don’t take the full blame alone; they share the blame with the defense who was on the field for 73 plays and over 36 mins, mostly thanks to their uncomplimentary offense. But nevertheless, in their moment of truth, they gave up the game-winning drive themselves. Notice the common theme here: “self-inflicted wounds” — both units are to blame for this heartbreaking loss.

The next stretch of games are brutal, and could end the 49ers with a 0-8 record when it’s all said and done against the Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys, and Philadelphia Eagles.

49er updates, interviews and news:

Hoyer recaps his play, Quote Roundup by playersfull 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. Author, Content Creator, EditorSequoia Sims .