Evaluating the Niner’s five losses, they were soundly beaten in week 1 by a very good Carolina Panthers team. In their last 4 games, they were in the game until the very last possession and have lost those games by a total combined 11 points. Their last two losses at the Cardinals and at the Colts came in OT.
The take-away for me is that this team is still bad but twice as good as the 2016 team. This year’s team is competitive and plays hard entertaining games. They are heading in the right direction but still have plenty of gaps to fill before they turn those close losses into W’s. On offense, it is clear that need a franchise QB, a remake of their interior O-line, and one or two impact WR’s. On defense, they need a total remake of their LB’s with the exception of Reuben Foster. Sad, but true that NaVorro Bowman no longer can play like he did prior to his knee and achilles injuries. They also need two new CB’s.
This is the state of the roster that Trent Baalke left behind. After the Colts’ win over the Niners last week, Frank Gore said it best when he was quoted, “Trent messed up this team.” Baalke must have drafted at least 10 CB’s in his last three years and none of them have turned into impact players and most of them are no longer on the team or on any other roster. Half of the CB’s that he drafted had known knee injuries but he still drafted them. But the most egregious error that he made was a political one where he and Jed York ran a proven winning coach, Jim Harbaugh, out of town. This is what Gore’s message really meant.
In this league, the gap between a bad team and a good team is not that wide. Losing 4 games by a total of 14 points is proof of that. But the consistence by which a bad team like the Niners lose is glaring and the gaps in the offense and defense that I define above have to be addressed if they are to turn this franchise around. I still have plenty of confidence in Lynch and Shanahan.
Here is my definition of a good team. In last week’s Packer’s vs Cowboy’s game, when Dak Prescott scored the go-ahead TD for the Cowboys with 1:13 left in the game, my first reaction was that they left too much time on the clock for Aaron Rodgers. And, you know the rest of the story as Rodgers lead another amazing come-from-behind win.
And here is my definition of a bad team. In both of the Niner’s OT losses, when the Niners had the ball, all my thoughts were on “how the offense will screw up”. And on defense, more often than not, on third down and short or long, they will either allow the other team to get a first down or be called for a defensive penalty. Bad teams will somehow find a way to lose close games.
I expect to see these kinds of losses on a consistent basis for the remainder of the year. I’m sure that Lynch has his scouts busy looking for impact players who will either be free agents next year or good college draft prospects.