Editor’s note: Former 49ers Pro Bowl quarterback Jeff Garcia, now an NBC Sports Bay Area analyst, shares his thoughts on the team each week throughout the season. This week, he takes look at some good, some bad, and the future.
The same things continue to haunt the 49ers.
There is really nothing more to say about their loss in Seattle. It’s all been said before. There were penalties and turnovers. They moved the ball at times but then shot themselves in the foot.
It is hard to read too much into what is going on because of the guys that are now playing due to all of the injuries. The fight of the team was better. You saw them compete and battle, but some of that was because Seattle called off the dogs in the second half, too.
Still, it was good to see some of the young players have success. It was nice to see the way Jeff Wilson ran. I thought he was a positive sign in the backfield. He is a guy who was a third or fourth-string player, and he showed he is capable to toting the rock and catching passes out of the backfield.
Here are three observations as the 49ers enter Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos:
Pettis part of the future
It has been a while since the 49ers have hit on a young wide receiver. Dante Pettis is showing some signs of hope for the future.
He is a football player, from the standpoint of having a really good understanding of the game. I really like what I see from him as a route runner. He has a good feel for setting up defensive backs to create separation.
Pettis appears to have good game speed, too. He obviously ran away from people on the long touchdown catch-and-run he had on the post pattern.
I don’t know if Pettis is a No. 1 receiver, but I definitely believe he has a future on this team and can be a great contributor for a long time.
Stepping outside the scheme
The 49ers’ defensive scheme has proven to be successful in the NFL. It is based on the same defense the Seahawks have used through the years. But if your players do not fit the scheme, you still need to put those players in the best possible positions to have success.
What the 49ers have tried to do with their 2017 third-round draft pick, cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, has not worked. He has played three-deep coverage or man coverage most of the time. He is not getting help over the top. I think one of the things that the coaching staff could have done is adjusted some safety help to not put Witherspoon on an island all the time.
They could allow Richard Sherman to play one-on-one on his side and shut down his side with the experience he brings. They should roll coverage every now and then and help Witherspoon out. I think that’s been part of the problem with this scheme. The 49ers simply do not have the same kind of quality players in their defensive backfield that Seattle had with the Legion of Boom. Obviously, injuries have been a problem in the secondary, along with communication problems between the safeties and corners, but your scheme has to make adjustments to fit your players.
Edge rusher will make a difference
The 49ers are currently in line to have the No. 1 overall pick. The best player in next year’s draft is expected to be edge rusher Nick Bosa. This could work out perfectly for the 49ers.
The big man, DeForest Buckner, has been doing an outstanding job. The 49ers are getting some good pressure from Buckner, who leads the team with nine sacks. They have gotten some pressure sporadically from Cassius Marsh and Ronald Blair, but that hasn’t been consistent enough. And they have not gotten anything out of Solomon Thomas.
What the 49ers need more than anything is to add some strength on the edge. In order to play this type of pass coverage in the secondary, the 49ers need pressure from their front four.
If they are not getting pressure consistently from the edge, that is difficult for this defense to overcome. Eventually teams are going to find the holes in their zone and be able to attack them. That’s been a problem throughout this season.