The 49ers, even without Trey Lance at the helm, have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL. Yet they sit 3-4, in third place in the NFC West, preparing to play division foes the Rams.…This weeks NFC West match up, has the 49ers currently 1.5 point underdogs against the Rams. NFL odds just tipping in the 'home' team's favour, despite the fact that there will likely be more 49ers fans in the Rams' stadium than LA fans. This match gives the 49ers a chance to pull back to .500 and stay in contention with the surprise first place Seahawks.
To say this is a must win game though is an understatement. The odds may not be in the 49ers favour, but another loss at this point in the season could cause true desperation to set in. How did a team ripe with such potential fall so quickly? There are obviously huge injury concerns across the roster, whether that's at quarterback, on the offensive line, running back, or on the defensive side of the ball where the it feels more like a roulette table than steady state depth chart. That is absolutely the number on concern for this team.
The addition of Christian McCaffrey via trade last week was supposed to boost the offense, but the Cheifs ho hum defense still made JimmyG and team look pedestrian. One week later, against the Rams, a team that the 49ers have dominated in all but 1 very important playoff game last year, the 49ers have a chance to reset. They will get some players back on the field, with Bosa, Ward, and Williams not on the injury report... but plenty of the team is still hurting, including new injury report additions Deebo Samuel and Kyle Juszczyk.
As of Wednesday, the no practice list included:
Deebo Samuel (hamstring)
Dre Greenlaw (calf)
Kyle Juszczyk (finger)
Arik Armstead (foot)
Jauan Jennings (hamstring)
Samson Ebukam (Achilles)
Trent Williams (vet day)
While Jason Verrett (knee) was limited, and trying to make his way back on to the active roster.
With all the injuries, it's not a great time to be playing on yet another turf field, fortunately the 49ers will at least have a bye the following week to try and recover.
I hate to use injuries as an excuse for the 49ers season, but if you look at the injury report week after week, it's quite clear that this roster has been in rough shape.
Unfortuantely though, it doesn't stop there. The team has played undisciplined football as of late, too many penalties, bad decisions, and turnovers in key moments have taken points off the board. This has some people calling for the head of Coach Kyle Shanahan. Scheme wise, there are few offensive coaches that are in the same universe as Shanahan, but this season it is very clear that he does have his share of short comings in. These include: game management, improvising when playing from behind, and keeping his team healthy. I am not in the camp of those calling for a new coach, but I do think the team should consider bringing in a veteran coach that can help mentor and teach Shanahan how to get out of his own way.
Of course, I'd be remissed if I also didn't call out the issues the 49ers have had with player execution. The more tape you watch, the more you see players missing their assignment on defense, or running wide open but not getting the ball on offense. You see a quarterback who doesn't see the whole field, and an offensive line that won't give him the time to do so. Receivers are literally dropping the ball... and much of the 49ers scheme is based on slow developing plays that the offensive line can't protect the duration of.
Where does that leave this team? Exactly at a point of mediocrity. If you consider the NFL odds, it is still entirely possible to turn the season around, and that begins with a win this Sunday... but to go the distance, to be a real force into the playoffs, the 49ers will need to address the above, both by getting healthy, and really, really doing some critical self evaluation.