The end of the 49ers’ three-game win streak means the rebirth of a certain tone of overreactions.
The season is winding down, and each game takes on greater significance as the margin for error tightens for playoff hopefuls around the NFL.
But we start with a familiar theme, as coach Kyle Shanahan’s handling of Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance is further examined.
The 49ers took over at the 2-yard line with four minutes remaining in regulation. Jimmy Garoppolo led them down the field.
Coach Kyle Shanahan said — and I agree — that it would not have been fair to Trey Lance and everyone else on the team to insert a rookie quarterback cold from the sideline for the most-crucial plays of the game. The 49ers were moving the ball, and there was no reason to get away from what was working.
Also, the 49ers' touchdown efficiency in the red zone is best in the NFL at 75.8 percent.
The main reason Shanahan says he has gone away from the selective use of Lance is because of the complete unknowns of how the defense is going to handle those situations.
When Garoppolo is taking all the snaps, Shanahan is able to get a sense for how the defense is going to react in certain situations with its fronts and coverages.
When Lance enters, Shanahan feels as if he is giving away that advantage because the defense will invariably have a different set of rules for a dual-threat quarterback.
I doubt any team in the NFL will have its secondary play a complete game.
Heck, the Buffalo Bills faced three pass attempts on Monday night against the New England Patriots, but they certainly did not play a complete game, either. Their safety got lost in traffic and out of position on a run play that resulted in a long touchdown run.
The 49ers are now playing without their two starting cornerbacks to open the season. Jason Verrett is not coming back, and Emmanuel Moseley will be out for several weeks with a high ankle sprain. So, from this point forward, they face a whole new set of challenges.
But, all things considered, I believe 49ers fans should feel fortunate things have not been a whole lot worse in the defensive backfield.
Seriously, who would have thought the 49ers would be tied for fourth in the league, allowing just 205.1 yards passing per game?
Defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans is just fine. He is a keeper, for sure.
There’s a lot of blame to go around coming off the 49ers’ 30-23 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 13. But the defense? Nope, not buying it.
I thought the 49ers’ defense was extremely well-prepared for the game Sunday. The way things started, it looked as if the 49ers knew exactly what plays were coming.
Things fell apart late in the second quarter, though. DK Metcalf came up with a 33-yard catch on a third-and-14 play over Deommodore Lenoir when safety Jaquiski Tartt did not get over to help in time.
Then, in the final 90 seconds of the first half, Arden Key and Charles Omenihu were called for roughing-the-passer penalties to give the Seahawks a free 23 yards to set up a touchdown.
One Seattle touchdown came on a fake punt. In the third quarter, Seattle scored on a short field after an interception. The 49ers’ defense also came up with three takeaways.
The 49ers’ defense was on the field for 67 snaps on Sunday and allowed an average of just 3.79 yards per play.
Ryans is getting results from his sixth-ranked defense.
It’s not an overreaction if “a long long time” means one week ago. Remember, the 49ers allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 12.
Special teams were mostly to blame for both of the 49ers’ losses against the Seahawks this season. Remember the Week 4 disaster?
There is not a dominant team in the NFL, and it stood to reason the 49ers were not going to be able to just flip and switch and become a clear Super Bowl favorite.
The 49ers have shown they are capable of playing error-free football and controlling games. They have also given us plenty examples of the kind of game they played Sunday against Seattle.
At this stage, as I wrote on Monday, nothing should be a surprise.
Overreaction? No … and yes.
At 6-6, the 49ers have not proven to be a playoff-caliber team.
But in the NFC, a .500 record (or 9-8, actually), will get a team into the playoffs. Heck, it might be possible to get into the postseason with an 8-9 record.
While the 49ers might not show the consistency you would expect from a playoff team, they remain in solid position to fill one of those seven spots on the NFC side of the Super Bowl bracket.
Every game is important, for sure, but we are not yet at the critical stage.
In fact, of the 49ers’ next two games, the more-important one is the Dec. 19 game against the Atlanta Falcons.
The 49ers currently occupy the No. 7 seed in the NFC playoff picture. They hold the tie-breaker advantages over Nos. 8 and 9 (Philadelphia and Minnesota) due to head-to-head victories.
The Falcons are currently No. 11 with a 5-7 record. Carolina is No. 10 in the race with a 5-7 mark, as well.
This week, Atlanta plays at Carolina, which could set up an ultra-important 49ers-Falcons game at Levi’s Stadium in Week 15.