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49ers overreactions: Will team be one-and-done in playoffs?

NBC Sports
Daniel Brunskill, Kyle Juszczyk

The 49ers and Tennessee Titans have a quick turnaround this week.

And over here in the Overreactions Department, we’re feeling the time crunch, too.

The 49ers face the Titans on Thursday night in a matchup that features an NFC team and an AFC team with realistic playoff aspirations.

After a 3-5 opening to the season, the 49ers have turned it around and things seem to be falling into place. There is still plenty of work to be done and plenty of fodder for overreactions.

Here we go.

Overreaction? Yes

This season is all about this season.

Of course, the original idea was to win as many games as possible with the better quarterback while also getting scattered playing time to the rookie. Still, all indications are the 49ers are very happy with the development of Trey Lance.

The 49ers have handled this the right way.

Jimmy Garoppolo is playing much better this season than any of the rookie quarterbacks in the league. And he is playing better than Lance would be playing, if the 49ers had decided to go with the rookie.

The 49ers hope Lance will be the starting quarterback for a long, long time. He should benefit down the road from how this season has played out, too.

Overreaction? No

Garoppolo is playing the best ball of his career. And, remember, the 2019 postseason, the 49ers beat teams with Kirk Cousins and Aaron Rodgers at quarterback.

 

So it doesn’t have to be anything magical.

As long as the 49ers have a threat of the running game, Garoppolo does not turn it over, he converts third downs, and the defense holds it together, the 49ers can beat anyone.

Overreaction? No

Here is what I believe to be equally true: The 49ers can beat any team, and the 49ers can lose to any team.

So your belief that the 49ers could lose their first-round playing game — if, indeed, they qualify for the postseason — is certainly not outrageous. It wouldn’t be outrageous to believe they can go all the way, either.

Overreaction? Yes

If the 49ers’ biggest concern is how to react late in games that they’re winning by too much, well, I cannot think of a better problem as they pursue a spot in the postseason.

Overreaction? Yes, but...

The 49ers have issues at cornerback, for sure.

After all, the 49ers are playing without their two projected starters. Jason Verrett is out for the season with a torn ACL, and Emmanuel Moseley is still at least a couple weeks from playing due to a high ankle sprain.

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Rookie Ambry Thomas experienced ups and downs in his first two starts. Here’s the problem with playing that position: A lot of times when a cornerback has a good play, nobody sees it because the quarterback was either sacked or threw the ball in a different direction.

Let’s bring a little perspective, though: The 49ers’ pass defense ranks seventh in the NFL, allowing 213.2 yards passing per game.

We’re not going to try to fool anyone by saying the 49ers have things locked down at cornerback.

But that group, tied together with the pass rush and scheme, is keeping things together better than anyone could have expected.

Overreaction? No

The pass rush has been a huge part of the 49ers’ overall success with their pass defense, of course. Nick Bosa leads the way with 15 sacks.

The 49ers have also been called for six roughing-the-passer penalties this season totaling 76 yards. Arden Key was flagged twice in the past three games.

Key’s penalty Sunday against Atlanta’s Matt Ryan was controversial, as he was called for falling on Ryan with his full body weight.

Controversial? Perhaps.

But the rule is not changing, so the 49ers have to do their best to avoid such penalties.

And if it means their D-linemen must bring a pillow onto the field, so be it.