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 looks at where the 49ers stand after cutting Reuben Foster.
It’s a terrible situation, and you feel for the alleged victim.
You just hope the young man can correct his decision-making and get back on track -- personally and as a player in the National Football League. The 49ers were supportive of him and tried to work with him. But the poor decisions he continued to make were not a benefit to anyone.
Now, the 49ers move on without one of the key members of their 2017 draft class.
Big offseason awaits front office
It has been a rough road for the 49ers’ 2017 draft class. The higher picks have not produced. We’re still waiting for Solomon Thomas to show up. He hasn’t been the player the 49ers needed from that level of investment -- the No. 3 overall pick in the draft. He has not played to the level of expectation.
Foster, the other first-round pick, no longer is around. During his time with the 49ers, he was not dependable on the field, and he was not dependable off the field.
He started 17 games in 27 opportunities. He was constantly on the ground, injured. And there were many times when you did not know when he would be returning. At times, you would see moments of greatness and he would show that, yes, he really has the ability within him. But he was too inconsistent.
The 49ers are not just getting rid of a bad seed with his decision-making outside of the locker room -- they are getting rid of a player who really did not live up to his level of expectation as a player, either.
Everybody had reason to be excited about John Lynch’s initial moves as 49ers general manager to create more draft picks. But there is a lot of work ahead of them. It is still a young, unproven team. And they are a vulnerable team, as far as their ability to stay healthy and learn how to avoid mistakes on the field.
This year, Mike McGlinchey is turning out to be a good player. Fred Warner has shown a lot of promise, too. But the rest of the class has yet to be seen. Moving forward, the upcoming draft class is going to be an important one for Lynch and Kyle Shanahan. They need to get some positive hits with their high draft picks.
No closer to finding Garoppolo’s backup
The future is still undetermined when it comes to the 49ers’ backup quarterback situation. We’ve seen moments when Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard showed they have the ability to play at the highest level. But the key is consistency. If you can’t do it week in and week out, you’re going to find yourself on the outside looking in.
The inexperience is starting to show itself with Mullens. Tampa Bay put a lot of pressure on him, and the offensive line didn’t help him out much, either. But when there were opportunities to make throws, he was off the mark.
Footwork is a big thing for me, and when I watch the play of the 49ers’ quarterbacks, I see a lot of room for improvement. When you watch a guy like Baker Mayfield play the game, his feet are moving. He’s up in the pocket. He’s challenging the line of scrimmage. He’s getting the ball off, five steps, hitching up, drilling to a target location.
I do not see that from the 49ers’ quarterbacks. They throw flat-footed too often. There’s no hitch in the pocket. They’re not getting their feet going in the right direction for accuracy. It’s not just important to have the mental ability to read defenses and go through progressions. Quarterbacks also need to on top of sharp with their timing, accuracy and execution. Those things are lacking, and those are things you work on every day in practice.
Oftentimes, Beathard -- and even Jimmy Garoppolo, sometimes -- was not helping out the offensive line by hitching up in the pocket or having that natural clock going off in his head. I feel like the 49ers’ quarterbacks have been late with their feet, which means they’re late with their decisions, which means they’re inaccurate with the ball.
A rough final stretch
Let’s be honest: Right now, the 49ers are playing with third-string players. They are practice-squad players who have been elevated to starters. They can’t even compete with backups in the National Football League.
We knew going into Tampa Bay that they were facing a highly explosive offense. The 49ers' coverage was not that bad, but their containment of the quarterback was terrible. On offense, the 49ers could not convert on third downs. Mullens had a rough first half. They ran the ball well, but they got behind and were forced to throw.
Now, they’re going to face the Seahawks, and we all know Russell Wilson has a unique ability to extend plays. The Seahawks play smash-mouth football and will try to run the ball down your throat. They are on the cusp of being a playoff team, so they will be a highly motivated opponent.
The 49ers right now are struggling to find themselves. They are struggling to get players on the field who are healthy. It is really a bad situation right now. We just hope that the 49ers can be competitive.
I think a lot of it starts with the energy level. Granted, there were some distractions they had to overcome against Tampa Bay. But, moving forward, there will be more distractions. This team has to step up and find its way.
You just wonder where bright spots can be found in these last five games.