Over the last couple of weeks, a cascade of mishaps befell the 49ers,
creating a puzzling scenario. Observing the Sunday showdown at Levi’s Stadium felt akin to witnessing a string of unfortunate events, with the Bengals besting the home team 31-17 – a final score that seemed more distant than it initially appeared.
Many mistakes painted an unattractive picture of the San Francisco team. Finding faults was easy; finding the positives was a bit tougher. Let’s delve into this from a variety of perspectives:
The opening of the day didn’t bode well for the 49ers. Right from the get-go in the first quarter, they committed some glaring errors:
During their initial possession, the 49ers found themselves in a challenging situation deep in the red zone for the second time. With RB Elijah Mitchell, they gained just one yard. Following that, a one-yard rush by fullback Kyle Juszczyk ensued, compelling San Francisco to punt the ball away.
Bengals’ WR Ja’Marr Chase stumbled in his team’s first game, but none of the 49ers managed to bring him down while he was on the ground.
After a mistake by Isaiah Oliver, he dropped an interception that should have been caught by a cornerback duo.
In the third position, the 49ers had Eric Armstead and Nick Bosa queued up on the line of scrimmage. No one brought them down, and Bosa hit QB Tee Higgins on his back. (All of the above Bengals were on their first drive, on which they scored a touchdown).
After scoring a tying touchdown, the 49ers left a long kickoff return, placing the Bengals on their own 43.
Kittle showed his best game since Week 13 of 2021. During the game on Sunday, he managed to secure 11 receptions, accumulating a total of 149 yards. With Deebo Samuel out, Kittle had to stay as active as he was against Cincinnati.
He has consistently demonstrated his knack for creating opportunities after receptions multiple times during this season.
During the opening half, Garoppolo completed 7 out of 10 passes for 114 yards. In the latter half of the game, he improved, connecting on 15 out of 21 throws for 251 yards, securing one touchdown, but also experiencing two interceptions and a fumble.
The turnover part is concerning as it’s the second consecutive week where Garoppolo has flipped the ball when he needs to bring his team back and throw.
The first INT was the most terrifying as he waited for a long time to attempt to flip the deep open Elijah Mitchell to deep open Eliza Mitchell, instead of leaving it where LB Germain Pratt could prepare for the turnover.
Failing to convert those points was the initial turning point that signaled the start of the 49ers’ downfall during the Sunday match.
Aiyuk was outstanding once again, making a name for himself by grabbing five out of nine targets at a distance of 109 yards.
It’s impossible to locate him beneath the field, and the fact that he’s been slacking off in Week 8, making his target even more impressive in the second part of Week 7.
It was clear before, but it’s rapidly becoming evident that Aiyuk is better open and catching the football compared to any other player on the 49ers’ roster.
On Sunday, the 49ers missed a lot of tackles. Bengals’ RB Joe Mixon was easily finding his way to the second level of the field and was consistently capable of making tackles once he got there.
The San Francisco defense exhibited some improvement in the latter half, yet it remained a performance that fell short of the league’s top defensive units.
A significant overhaul in their defensive strategy is imperative for the 49ers. Their current approach is proving ineffective. Quarterbacks are swiftly releasing the ball, targeting wide-open receivers across the field.
This has become a recurring concern for the 49ers in recent weeks, a challenge they hadn’t faced previously. Bosa had a pretty comfortable day at Barrow, and it seems like there’s no button for Wilks to press to fix what’s wrong with his defense.
Armstead posted a pair of sacks in the 49ers’ first multi-sack game post-Week 18 of 2021. The first was like a coverage sack, and the second was merely a matchup that landed directly on Burrow. Number 91, a 49er, should be delighted to see him active.
Pass-rushing has been a real issue for the past three weeks. Leaving aside the struggle of Brock Pardee, the 49ers ran 17 times in 57 yards against Cincinnati.
This marks their second back-to-back match with an average carry of less than 4.0 yards. It’s not conducive to winning the offense that’s designed to make life easier on QB Jimmy Garoppolo.
While Kittle and Aiyuk performed well for most of the time, both had critical failures in Sunday’s game. Aiyuk left a touchdown on the table towards the end of the first half, which kept the 49ers’ drive alive and might have helped them get into field goal range, reducing the Bengals’ lead by a point.
Then, in the third quarter, Kittle had his third and seventh drop, which was truly damaging. The catch would have gone for at least nine yards and would have likely been inside the Bengals’ red zone, while the 49ers are still behind by a touchdown.
However, they ended up surrendering possession.