THE SANTA CLARA
October 13, 2016
Three short years ago, the San Francisco 49ers were 12-4 and one play away from another Super Bowl. Led by a brilliant coach in Jim Harbaugh, an emerging superstar in Colin Kaepernick and an elite defense, the 49ers were on the brink of becoming the next dynasty of the NFL.
Oh how times have changed. At 1-4, the 49ers are miles away from relevancy. Their schedule eases up a bit, starting this Sunday in Buffalo, and the 49ers may eek out a few more wins. But lets not pretend this team is any good. There’s no shortage of weak spots throughout the roster. It won’t be pretty, but let’s take a closer look at the problems plaguing this underwhelming franchise.
Chip Kelly finally realized that Blaine Gabbert has no business being a quarterback in this league. Gabbert posted a QB rating of just 69.6 and has more interceptions than touchdowns. It doesn’t
help that he practically has nobody to throw to, but we’re not wrong in expecting more from Gabbert.
Colin Kaepernick will certainly be better, but he hasn’t shown much recently to suggest he’s the long-term answer at quarterback. The 49ers must turn to the draft to find their franchise QB. There’s no other way to do it.
The lone bright spot on the 49ers offense is running back Carlos Hyde. Hyde currently ranks eighth in the league in rushing and has established himself as an every-down back. He’s looking like the next Frank Gore. The 49ers have a below average scoring attack, posting the 18th most points per game. And even that stat is a bit inflated considering much of these points come in garbage time.
It’s hard to find good things to say about this defense. San Francisco has no pass rush to speak of and their secondary is nothing to write home about. The 49ers rank 25th in the NFL in scoring defense, allowing 28 points per game. NaVorro Bowman is the best player on this unit, but right now he isn’t looking like the elite linebacker he’s proven himself to be in the past.
The 49ers need young talent to boost this defense, and recent high round draft-picks like Jimmie Ward, Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner have yet to prove they can carry the unit.
And while a quarterback can instantly turn around an offense, there’s no such savior on the defensive side of the ball. The harsh reality is that it will take at least a couple solid drafts to replenish the well of talent and bring back a fearsome defense for San Francisco.
It was the defense that consistently propelled Harbaugh’s teams deep into the playoffs. The 49ers would be wise to follow the same formula as they reconstruct this team.
Contact Andrew Slap at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.