The 49ers were embarrassed Sunday at Levi's Stadium, plain and simple.
Facing an Arizona Cardinals team without Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins, J.J. Watt and A.J. Green, the 49ers had a golden opportunity to move back to .500 and pick up a game on the NFC West leaders. But backup quarterback Colt McCoy and running back James Conner torched the 49ers' defense as the Cardinals grabbed a 31-17 win that wasn't as close as the score would indicate.
The 49ers allowed McCoy to go 22-for-26 for 249 yards and one touchdown while Conner racked up 173 all-purpose yards and scored three touchdowns in the deflating loss. The 49ers' defense has been an issue all season, but Kyle Shanahan hasn't lost faith in first-year defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans.
“Yes, of course," Shanahan said after the loss when asked if Ryans still had his full support.
While the defense was ripped Sunday by McCoy, Conner and Christian Kirk, the 49ers' offense also had its fair share of issues, leaving Shanahan with a lot of questions and few answers.
“Yeah, when you can't stop the run, I think it seemed like they were in second and less than five after every first down," Shanahan said. "You give up all those free yards, big explosives on screens. I don't think they punted until the third quarter. Then on offense, you have to come out and you have to make those plays to start. I thought that we had a chance to keep up with them at the beginning. First drive with the drop. Then the fumble and then the fumble again inside the 10 (yard-line), then it was catch-up ball from there on out.”
After the loss, the 49ers now sit at 3-5 and are sinking fast. While the quarterback conversation takes up much of the oxygen surrounding the team, the 49ers have much bigger problems than whether or not Trey Lance should take over for Jimmy Garoppolo.
General manager John Lynch and Shanahan built a roster that heavily relied on players with past injury histories staying healthy and being important cogs in the team. That hasn't worked out. The 49ers' secondary is a patchwork job right now, with veterans Josh Norman and Dre Kirkpatrick being relied on over rookies Ambry Thomas and Deommodore Lenoir to fill the starting cornerback spot vacated by the injured Jason Verrett.
San Francisco's pass rush hasn't been the force it was in 2019, and that has allowed opposing offenses to dictate how the game is played.
Ryans isn't responsible for the spotty roster Shanahan and Lynch constructed. But he has to find a way to fix the 49ers' leaky defense or else Shanahan could decide to offer him up as the scapegoat if the season continues to deteriorate.