The Impatient truth: The Forty-Niners Remain a Long Work in Progress

On Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers hosted the Dallas Cowboys at home at Levis stadium. The 49ers got annihilated in every facet of the game with a final score SF 10 DAL 40.  And now Niners Live drops our post-game recap, grades, assessments and the impatient truth: The San Francisco 49ers remain a long work in Progress.


The San Francisco 49ers have suffered their worst loss since being defeated by their division rivals the Arizona Cardinals 47-7 on 9-27-15, a special day that was to honor the legendary wide receiver Dwight Clark, who’s been battling ALS. Here’s how the game broke down against the Dallas Cowboys.

Defensive Summary Breakdown

The 49ers Defense forced (0) turnovers which lost the turnover battle against Dallas (3). The defense generated 0 sacks, 3 tackles for losses, 1 QB hit and 6 pressures against the Cowboys’ offensive’ line and quarterback Dak Prescott. The defense allowed 501 yards of total offense on 70 plays and allowed the Cowboys to go 7 out of 11 on third down.

Stats to know: The 49ers are giving up 26.6 ppg as a defense and are ranked 29th in total defense. The 49ers have been outscored 92-41 in the first half -51 point diff) in 7 games.

The Cowboys were 4-6 in the red zone. The 49ers’ defense gave up an astonishing 265 rushing yards at 6.2 yards per rush with 147 yards at 5.7 yards per attempt coming from running back Ezekiel Elliott who combined for a total of 3 TDs and 219 yards from scrimmage. The Dallas’ offense totaled (27) first downs in the game, (12) passing, (14) rushing, (1) by way of penalty. The 49ers’ defense allowed Prescott to throw for 234 yards passing while completing 16/25 for 3 touchdowns and zero interception at 9.4 per pass play while generating a QBR 79.7 and a passer rating of 134.0 (summary stats courtesy of

Grades for the defense break down as follows

  • Rashard Robinson, Ahkello Witherspoon, and Dontae Johnson – They all got beaten in coverage, Robinson accrued his 4th pass interference call of the season and his 8th penalty in the last five games. Johnson led the team with 7 solo tackles total but all had issues with helping out with run support as well. The corners grade out as a (D-).
  • K’Waun Williams– Left the game with an injury and didn’t record a single stat in the game. Before he left the game, he was ineffective. Williams grades out as a (D).
  • Jimmie Ward the Eraser – Ward had 6 solo tackles total which was second on the team and he missed some key tackles ( Cole Beasley) and because of the injury to Williams, he had to spend time playing the nickel back position. Ward grades out as a (D+).
  • Jaquiski Tartt (Box) – Had 6 tackles, five being solo, but had some missed tackles, gave up a touchdown pass to Jason Witten and was seen arguing with fellow teammate Ray-Ray Armstrong on the sidelines and on the field. Tartt grades out as a (D+).
  • Linebackers – In NaVorro Bowman’s absence – Ray-Ray ArmstrongReuben FosterBrock CoyleEli HaroldDekoda Watson and Eric Reid, who played linebacker, combined for 17 tackles and one for a loss. Bowman, going into a new team (Oakland Raiders) and, on a short week, totaled 11 tackles, 6 being solo, 1 tackle for a loss and 1 QB hit with a victory. Foster didn’t finish the game because of bruised ribs. Elliot had almost 150 yards rushing and three total TD’s. Enough said. This unit grades out as an (F).
  • Defensive Line – DeForest Buckner had 5 tackles all being solo, 2 passes defended and 1 QB hit.  Solomon Thomas had just one tackle, Tony Dewayne McDaniel had 3 solo tackles total, D.J. Jones had 4 solo tackles total with 1 tackle for a loss, Elvis Dumervil had one solo tackle total and one tackle for a loss. Leger Douzable and Earl Mitchell combined for two solo tackles each. This unit failed to register a sack and only generated 6 pressures and one QB hit with no extreme violence. (See above, Elliot). This unit grades out as an (F).
  • DC Robert Saleh – Short and sweet, his unit played with no passion or energy or extreme violence and gave up 40 points with no sacks, just 1 QB hit, and couldn’t apply any pressure on Dak. This unit gave up 501 total yards of offense and over the last three games close to 1,400 yards total. And again couldn’t get his defense off the field on third down. Saleh went to a three defensive back alignment with Williams being out, Adrian Colbert saw time at safety and registered 3 tackles with 2 being solo and a big hit on Witten. However, it wasn’t enough to stop Elliot from single-handedly destroying Saleh’s defense. Saleh grades out as an (F).

Offensive Summary Breakdown

The 49ers had (23) first downs, (9) rushing, (12) passing, (2) penalty; converting on third down just 6 out of 13 times and 0 for 2 on 4th down and were 1 for 2 in the red zone. The 49ers accounted for 65 plays for 290 yards; 187 of those yards were from the passing game on 10 drives for 4.5 yards per play average. On the ground, the 49ers managed 103 yards total at 4.7 yards a carry. The 49ers had just 2 penalties for 22 yards.

Stats to know: The 49ers’ offense is now ranked 16th in total offense and is scoring 17.6 ppg.

The time of possession was: SF 27:10 and Dallas 32:50. The 49ers’ offensive line gave up 5 sacks, 8 QB hits and 19 pressures on 45 of C.J. Beathard’s dropback passes. The running game generated 103 yards on the ground but 30 of that came from Beathard. Carlos Hyde had big bruising runs as he toted the rock with authority to a tune of 68 yards on 14 carries at 4.9 yards a rush. However, the 49ers had to abandon the running game because the score got out of hand.

Grades for the offense break down as follows

  • C.J. Beathard– completed 22 of 38 passes for 235 yards at 6.2 per pass attempt, no passing TD’s and no interceptions while posting a QBR of 21.6 and a 76.1 RTG. Beathard did rush for 30 yards on 5 carries and a touchdown but lost two fumbles while being hit/sacked hard from his blind side. Beathard still had problems getting the ball out quick consistently; ala holding the ball too long and had some inaccuracy issues as well. Not all on him, his offensive line didn’t help as he was under fire most of the game. Note: C.J.’s completion percentage through two games is 55.4.  C.J. Beathard grades out at a (C).
  • Carlos HydeMatt Breida – Hyde came to play as aforementioned with his ground production game and added 4 catches for 20 yards as a dual threat. Breida was a non-factor this week with only 5 yards on 3 carries and no catches. The lack of opportunities for this unit was based on the score, and that the offensive line hindered their production. This unit grades out at a (C+). Soley based on Hyde’s production.
  • WR’s and TE’s – Pierre Garcon – had 5 catches for 49 yards on 7 targets, Trent Taylor had 5 catches for 39 yards on 5 targets mainly in the 4 quarter when the game was over, Marquise Goodwin had 4 catches for 80 yards on 4 targets, Aldrick Robinson -had 1 catch for 15 yards on 1 target, Garrett Celek had 1 catch for 11 yards on 1 target and gave up a sack, George Kittle had 1 catch for 16 yards on 2 targets and Cole Hikutini had 1 catch for 5 yards on 2 targets. This unit left much to be desired in the impact plays column and failed to score a single touchdown in the game.The 49ers’ offense was sitting on 3 points most of the game until Beathard had a QB keeper/draw for a rushing TD when the game had been long out of reach. This unit grades out at a (C).
  • Offensive Line – Gave up 5 sacks (Joe Staley highlights this group), 8 QB hits, and several pressures up the middle and on edge. Beathard was under duress all game and this unit was a major reason why the offense couldn’t get on track.  Trent Brown went out with a concussion and Brandon Fusco was eventually replaced by Zane Beadles. This unit grades out at an (F).
  • OC/HC Kyle Shanahan – C.J. Beathard was unprepared for the pressure the Cowboys brought on Sunday, which he admitted to a member of the media right after the game (via the team’s website). On a critical 3rd down play Shanahan elected to call on rookie wideout Kendrick Bourne instead of a reliable veteran like Garcon with polished route running skills and clutch hands. Bourne ended up tripping over his own feet, therefore, making it tough for Beathard to connect with Bourne on the play. Shanahan’s offense scored 10 points, was held to under 300 yards of total offense, the team looked flat and unprepared as a whole and got embarrassed at home while honoring the Great Dwight Clark and now is tied for the worst start in franchise history at 0-7. Shanahan grades out at an (F)

Battling their own internal demons

The 49ers have been plagued with key injuries all year while leading the league in dropped passes and penalties and the inability to get off the field on third down as a defense and stay on the field and sustain drives as an offense. 

Missing pieces that you just can’t overcome

The 49ers lack a feared double-digit pass-rusher who can wreak havoc on every play known to man, woman, and child, the (Von Miller’s 7 sacks of the world). The offensive line needs a major overhaul; outside of Trent Brown, everyone on the line is expendable and upgrades are needed. The 49ers don’t have a star talent/big play touchdown maker waiting to happen at wide receiver or tight end (ala a DeAndre Hopkins who already has (37 catches 6 TD’s) and Travis Kelce (37 catches 3 TD’s). There’s a major need for a revamp defensive back unit/depth and a shutdown/playmaking corner with extreme ball skills and great technique. The jury is still out on C.J. Beathard, but the 49ers need a great playmaking quarterback either from the pocket or outside the pocket, or both, that has repetitive accuracy as his natural born skillset with strong leadership qualities and arm strength to boot (Deshaun Watson 61.5 completion % and 15 passing TD’s, 2 rushing and 5 interceptions). And more quality running back depth outside of Breida, and a star level running back that’s not injury prone like an Ezekiel ElliottKareem Hunt or a Todd Gurley II.

The Impatient truth: The Forty-Niners Remain a Long Work in Progress

This young 49ers’ team is lacking leadership, high end-talent, experience in all facets of the game and level compared to the division and the entire NFL. The front office, coaches, and players are, simply put, still very “green” and this blowout loss to the Dallas Cowboys furthermore brings fans and the sporting world to the; Impatient truth: The San Francisco 49ers remain a long work in Progress.

49er updates, interviews and news:

Beathard 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.

All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.comPro Football unless otherwise indicated. Author, Content Creator, EditorSequoia Sims .