As the season progresses, it appears more and more as if the San Francisco 49ers may be going into full blown rebuilding mode sooner rather than later. With the the year quickly going down the drain, what will the future hold for veterans like QB Colin Kaepernick, WR Anquan Boldin, and TE Vernon Davis?
The answer to that questions remains to be seen but, regardless, the Niners need a win the worst way. They’ll try to right the ship as they travel to the east coast to take on the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football. San Francisco has been outscored 90-25 on the road this season. Will the 49ers fall to 1-4, or can they turn things around away from Levi’s Stadium?
It wasn’t pretty, but the 49ers were able to get a 16-10 win over the Giants in Week 11 of last season. They did so with a lot of help from QB Eli Manning, who seemed to have a problem throwing to his own team. The Niners picked off Manning five times, including two by rookie ILB Chris Borland.
San Francisco couldn’t get much going on offense until Kaepernick hooked up with WR Michael Crabtree on a 48-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. Opportunistic defense, 95 rushing yards from RB Frank Gore, and the leg of K Phil Dawson did the rest, helping the team improve to 6-4. Unfortunately, they’d only win two more games the rest of the season.
Players to Watch
While there hasn’t been much to write home about lately, the play of OLB Aaron Lynch continues to be a bright spot for the Niners. Lynch had two sacks of QB Aaron Rodgers in Week 4, and leads the team in that department with three overall. He’s actually the only player on the roster with more than one. At his current pace, he would finish the season with 12 sacks, and continues to look like a building block for the future.
It may take a few turnovers for San Francisco to win this game, and the Giants are one of the toughest teams to take the ball form. They’ve only committed two all season, and a lot of that has to do with the play of Manning. After throwing 41 picks the last two years, Manning has been intercepted just once in 2015 and is playing smart and efficient football. He has seven touchdown passes, and has completed 62.9 percent of this throws.
Game Changing Factor
The 49ers’ offense wasn’t good last season, but it’s been absolutely terrible to start 2015. The team currently ranks last in the NFL in points per game (12.0), touchdowns (5), total passing yards (635), touchdown passes (2), QB rating (67.7), yards per play (4.7), net yards per passing attempt (4.9), and are 31st in first downs (36). There’s no way this team can compete until they can start moving the football, and right now that’s just not happening.
Stats to Know
Piggybacking off what I mentioned above, the biggest reason for the lack of offense has had to do with the quarterback and offensive line play. In his last nine starts dating back to last year, Kaepernick is 2-7 with six touchdown passes and nine picks. He’s averaging 164 yards passing a game and has only broken 174 yards twice during that span. His play has been almost nonfunctional.
The offense line hasn’t helped much either, and has been especially bad at center, right guard and right tackle. Currently, T Erik Pears is 57th among 72 qualified tackles, RG Jordan Devey is 71st among 79 guards, and C Marcus Martin is 32nd among 34 centers (per Pro Football Focus).
It’s to the point where the 49ers almost have to show they can at least be competitive before anyone can expect them to win another game. The defense took a big step forward in holding down the Green Bay Packers last week, but the offense was abysmal. We’ll see if the defense can build off of that, but I don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel in terms of Kaepernick and company. 1-4 appears inevitable at this point.