During the National Anthem, I was awaiting a fly-over but the skies remained hot and clear with no jets in sight. Bad omen…
The Niners finally put up the Ring of Honor but did so with only the Numbers of the Honorees without their names. I was trying to figure out who some of the numbers belonged to…
After the National Anthem, I was expecting the throngs of Faithful fans to take their seats across the way on the HOT sun side of the field. The seats remained 70% empty for the entire game.
During half-time, the Niners inducted Tom Rathman into the Niners Hall Of Fame. I was expecting that most fans would stay in their seats and watch the induction ceremonies. Rathman accepted the honor by talking to empty seats.
Finally, the game starts and the Niners are off to a great start. They hold the Panthers, receive the punt, then start driving. Shanahan’s offense is in high gear and then Hoyer throws his first long pass of the year down the right side. But, Marquis Goodwin drops the ball at the 3 yard line. The game for the Niners goes downhill from that point.
On the next Panthers series, Reuben Foster goes down with an apparent serious season ending leg injury. He is carted off the field and I’m feeling like “New coach, same results”. Thankfully, it was not a season ending injury but Foster will be out 4-6 weeks. After 11 plays in the first game of the season, Reuben Foster is clearly the best player on defense. That’s all you need to know about Trent Baalke’s draft picking skills.
The only other Niner highlight for the game was Jaquiski Tartt’s amazing one-handed interception which was the #1 ESPN “You’ve been Moss’ed” highlight of the week.
The areas that I was most disappointed in were:
- The offensive interior line play was expected to be a weak point and it clearly showed. Hoyer was sacked 4 times and had very little time to throw all day long. Zane Beadles was beaten all day and his weak blocking lead to 3 sacks and 1 lost fumble.
- I had high hopes for our defensive front four and line-backing core this year and expected much less from our CB’s and Safeties. The defensive back-field actually had a decent game with the exception of a blown coverage by Tartt which resulted in the Panthers first touchdown. The most disappointing aspect of the team play was the Niner defensive front four. Cam Newton’s jersey was as clean at the end of the game as it was when he started the game. Absolutely zero pressure and Newton had all day to pick his receiver. That is another reason that I say that the DB’s had a decent game. The Niners spent their #1 draft pick in each of the last three seasons (Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner, and Soloman Thomas) on the defensive front four. None of them showed up. Lastly, Shanahan made a decision before the game to inactivate a healthy Aaron Lynch, the Niners best pass rusher. I do have to give credit to the D-line for containing the Panther’s running game including McCaffery. They were stout in the running game.
- Shanahan’s decisions to go for it on 4th downs were not good decisions. In this league, field position is vital. He gave up 6 unnecessary points before half time so instead of a 7-0 deficit, he was looking at 13-0 with the Niners receiving the ball to start the 3rd quarter. Also, on those 4th down plays and some 3rd down plays, he called plays that took too much time thus resulted in bad plays. He knew Hoyer was under pressure but still called those slow developing plays.
I am still confident that this team will begin to play much better. Zane Beadles will be replaced with Laken Tomlinson whom they acquired from the Detroit Lions a few weeks ago. Until we see how well he plays, the jury is still out, but he has to be an improvement over Beadles. Shanahan’s play calls were good except for those 3rd and 4th down calls. Hoyer just didn’t have time. I saw the WR routes and they were much improved over last year. Completions are on the way. And, Robert Saleh will somehow get the defense to start putting pressure on the opposing QB’s.
We will be suffering another loss in Seattle next week. Having said that, I will be looking for improved play on both our offensive and defensive lines. The Seahawks offensive line is nothing to write home about so I’m looking for the Niners to put pressure on Wilson. The Niners won’t score too many points on the superior Seahawks defense but I’m hoping that Hoyer will have more time to have a decent passing game. The Niner running game will be very limited due to the Seahawk front 7 strength.
It will take time to turn this franchise around so Shanahan will learn how to get the best out of what he has and get some unexpected wins this year. I’m not giving up on this regime. We do have a special GM in Lynch and a good coach in Shanahan. They will attract the talent but it will take 2-3 years before they become consistent winners again.