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Three Issues The 49ers Need To Improve

The 49ers routed the Panthers 37-15 in Week Five last Sunday. The 49ers played an overall great game, but these two players and one entire phase of the ball need to improve if the 49ers want to make actual noise this season. Who and what are they?

The San Francisco 49ers played their best game of the season against the Carolina Panthers. The victory was so impressive that the Panthers fired head coach Matt Rhule on Monday morning after the embarrassing loss.

The offense scored 30 points and had almost 400 yards of total offense. The defense had six sacks, a pick-six, and knocked Baker Mayfield out of the game late in the fourth quarter. It’s what good teams do. Good teams beat who they are supposed to beat and beat them badly. The Panthers did not belong on the same field and the 49ers showed that for over 60-minutes.

During the game, three things jumped out. Injuries, bad play by an important phase of the ball, and a third-string tackle all had disappointing days. As we saw in Week One to Week Two, these issues can improve and perform better. Just because someone had a bad week does not mean they can’t have good weeks.

However, in search of their sixth Lombardi trophy, San Francisco needs these things to be addressed and improved quickly if they want to have a long run into the postseason.

49ers Overall Team Health

For what seems to be every year, the 49ers have had to deal with key injuries to important players on the team. Week Five against Carolina was no different.

Nick Bosa hurt his groin and did not play in the second half, Emmanuel Moseley tore his ACL late in the fourth and is out for the season, Jimmie Ward broke his hand on the opening kickoff and Robbie Gould got injured while “making a tackle” on a long kickoff return in the second half.

A win for the #49ers, but a costly one. Per coach Kyle Shanahan, CB Emmanuel Moseley is feared to have torn his ACL. DB Jimmie Ward broke his hand, Nick Bosa has a tight groin and K Robbie Gould likely has a knee contusion. — Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 9, 2022

In addition, to the loss of four starters in one game, the 49ers’ injury list looks like this. Arik Armstead, Azeez Al-Shaair, Javon Kinlaw, Trent Williams, Trey Lance, Elijah Mitchell, Tyrion Davis-Price, Colton McKivitz, and Tarvarius Moore are all out. The 49ers can stomach that for now. However, the depth of the team is tested. More key injuries and the season can go into a tailspin.

The good thing is all but two of the injuries are season-enders. Trent Williams could be back for the Chiefs game, Bosa might miss this week’s game against the Falcons, Price returned to practice on Wednesday, and Ward, although with a broken hand, could be back by the Chiefs game based on how his recovery goes. San Francisco will get healthy, but until then, the injuries are piling up.

The 49ers' entire starting defensive line is not practicing on Wednesday: — David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself) October 12, 2022

Not great.

49ers Offensive Tackle, Jaylon Moore

Second-year offensive tackle Jaylon Moore had his moments on Sunday. It’s tough to be critical on a third-string tackle who’s playing out of need, but that’s how good Sunday’s game went. In the game, Moore matched up with elite pass rusher, Brian Burns. These two plays show the positives and negatives of Moore’s game on Sunday.

Brian Burns beats Jaylon Moore and gets the sack on Jimmy G #Panthers — 𝗙𝗢𝗟𝗟𝗢𝗪 @𝗙𝗧𝗕𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗱𝟳 (@FTBeard7) October 9, 2022

Burns won easily, utilizing his elite speed and nose for the quarterback. He ran right by Moore, and although Moore had his hands on him, it wasn’t enough to stop him from sacking Jimmy Garoppolo. However, he made up for it here on this play.

Great pass pro rep for Jaylon Moore against Brian Burns — Jordan Elliott (@splash_cousin) October 11, 2022

Much better rep here against Burns. His first move was to try and go outside against Moore, but Moore read it and stopped him in his tracks allowing Jimmy G to have time for a completion. The 49ers are waiting for Trent Williams to come back and man the left side of the line, but with Colton McKivitz out, it will be the Jaylon Moore show until then.

49ers Special Teams

In 2021, the 49ers special teams were awful under then-coordinator Richard Hightower. The 49ers fired him after the season and hired longtime special teams coordinator Brian Schneider to try and improve the unit. In free agency, Oren Burks, George Odum, Malik Turner, and Ray-Ray McCloud were signed to boost up a terrible special teams group.

So far, there has been improvement. However, there are still issues.

49ers' DVOA profile through 5 games… #16 offense (#11 pass, #21 run) #1 defense (#5 pass, #1 run) #29 special teams #5 overall — David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself) October 12, 2022

The punt coverage has been excellent. Mitch Wishnowsky has punted the ball 20 times through five games in 2022. Of those 20 punts, three have been returned and the 49ers have only given up nine yards.

However, one of the reasons why special teams are ranked so low is because of blocked field goals. On the season, the 49ers have given up two-blocked field goals, with one of those being returned for a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks in Week Two. In Week Five, the 49ers gave up another one. It simply can’t happen.

Shanahan said the 49ers have to "tighten up lane containment" in blocking for field goals. They've had two blocked already and he says that Atlanta is particularly good at FG blocks. "When you get those blocked, it's blood in the water." — David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself) October 12, 2022

Another noticeable thing was the 49ers having Robbie Gould kick off short allowing the Panthers to return the ball. Twice in the second half, on consecutive kickoffs, the Panthers had returns of 45 and 48 yards that led to the Panthers scoring ten points.

The 49ers are still an elite team and possibly the best in the NFC, but all of these areas need to be cleaned up.



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