The 49ers' Week 13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks was a setback for a team that many believed had turned a corner over the last month. But it turns out Sunday's performance at Lumen Field is the type of showing we can expect from a team that be can best be described as average.
While the 30-23 loss to the down-on-their-luck Seahawks was ugly, former 49ers offensive lineman and current NBC Sports Bay Area analyst Joe Staley did have some positive takeaways from the otherwise deflating L.
"I think the defense, being put in the positions that they were consistently in that game with the three turnovers and only giving up seven points off of those three turnovers [was a positive]," Staley told KNBR's "Papa & Lund" on Monday. "Getting that fumble down late to give their team a chance. I thought Azeez [Al-Shaair] played really good in Fred's [Warner] absence. I think D.J. Jones was unbelievable, as he has been for this last half of the season, yesterday, forcing a fumble, big TFLs. The defensive line was unbelievable.
"So, there's things to focus on and take away that are positives. It's not just all about the negatives. It's easy for us to do that after a loss. It's easy as a player to do that after a loss, is just to focus on what went wrong."
While the 49ers' defense was solid in the Pacific Northwest, the rest of the operation was sloppy and undisciplined. San Francisco turned the ball over three times, was whistled for 10 penalties and its special teams were an abject disaster.
That's a recipe for a loss against a rival with nothing to lose.
At 6-6 after their loss to the Seahawks, the 49ers now find themselves occupying the final playoff spot in the NFC with five weeks to go. The 49ers still are in the driver's season to earn a bid to the postseason, but they will have to hold off the Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers to punch their ticket to the playoffs.
The 49ers must flush the loss to the Seahawks quickly with a trip to Cincinnati to face the Bengals coming up this Sunday. The Bengals, like the 49ers, are fighting for their playoff lives and are coming off a Week 13 loss.
Staley believes the Bengals will present a challenge to the 49ers, be he is confident coach Kyle Shanahan has the answers leave Cincy with a win.
"I think this is a game that the Niners have to get back to that run-first identity, converting on third downs, getting more opportunities, because the wide-zone scheme is set up to have a lot more success in the running game against the 4-3 [defense]," Staley said. "And we had a similar scheme -- different players, I know -- but a similar scheme that we went up there in Cincinnati the last time in , and ran the ball all over them that day, and put up a huge offensive output. [The Bengals] better players and a better team, but the scheme is still the same, and Kyle's going to know how to attack it."