Five members of 49ers organization on the hot seat
The 49ers enter a two-game stretch in which, on paper, two beatable opponents come to Levi’s Stadium. On Sunday, the 49ers look to snap a five-losing streak against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3). After the bye week, the 49ers return to action with another home game Nov. 6 against the New Orleans Saints.
It’s that point in the season in which the pressure ratchets up a few notches, as individuals try to prove they’re part of the solution for the future and not part of the problem...
5) Linebacker Gerald Hodges
During a season in which plenty of players have not performed well but held onto their jobs, the case of Gerald Hodges is curious. Hodges started the first three games at inside linebacker. He was not a glaring problem, yet he found himself benched even as NaVorro Bowman and Ray-Ray Armstrong sustained season-ending injuries.
If the issue has been disciplinary in nature, nobody is saying. “I kind of want to stay out of that one,” Hodges answered when CSNBayArea.com asked him about the benching. “I’ll let the coaches handle that. When my number’s called, I’m ready to go any time they need me to play.” His number is expected to be called on Sunday to help the 49ers’ beleaguered run defense.
4) Quarterback Colin Kaepernick
In his first start, Colin Kaepernick completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes while trying to negotiate a stiff wind in Buffalo. With another week of practice, Kaepernick is expected to produce better results. The Buccaneers own the league’s No. 23 defense, so there are no excuses.
Kaepernick and the 49ers agreed last week to a new contract that makes him eligible to void his contract at the end of this season. While it seems unlikely Kaepernick will want to stick around any longer than he is contractually obligated, it is also possible he finds comfort in Chip Kelly’s system. This is a big step toward him rebuilding his value around the league as a potential starting quarterback.
3) Defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil
The defense looked like the strength of the team – as it was during Jim Harbaugh’s tenure when the 49ers went to three consecutive NFC Championship games. The team’s 28-0 victory over the Los Angeles Rams in the season opener turned out to be a mirage.
O’Neil has not been able to push the right buttons. The 49ers’ run defense is the worst in the league. He must tighten up the gaps, put the right players in the right spots and make the right calls based on the Buccaneers’ tendencies. Sure, the 49ers have plenty of issues on offense, but the defense has been the team’s biggest disappointment during the five-game losing streak.
2) Safety Eric Reid
The 49ers picked up the fifth-year option on safety Eric Reid for next season, but that is no guaranteed he will be back on the team in 2017. Reid’s scheduled salary for next year is $5.676 million. The 49ers need to see more from Reid in order for them to follow through and honor that contract.
Reid has not performed at the kind of consistently productive level the 49ers want to see. While a long-term contract remains a possibility, so is the option for the organization to pull the fifth-year option and make him a free agent. Reid needs a bounce-back game after struggling mightily in the loss at Buffalo.
1) General manager Trent Baalke
There is no indication the 49ers are immediately prepared to part ways with general manager Trent Baalke, who continues to travel the country to get up-close looks at upcoming draft prospects. The heat is turned up on Baalke on a weekly basis, as the team continues to look overmatched.
Perhaps, the pressure eases on Baalke if some of his recent draft picks begin to make significant improvements. Running back Mike Davis needs to look the part, as he steps in for Carlos Hyde. And the defense must make significant strides with such players as Aaron Lynch, DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, Jimmie Ward, Rashard Robinson and Reid elevating their games to show the nucleus is already in place on one side of the ball.