49ers

Potential 49ers rainbow emerging after flushing bad loss to Rams

Potential 49ers rainbow emerging after flushing bad loss to Rams

SANTA CLARA -- George Kittle isn't bashful about his metaphors, especially as the San Francisco 49ers spin with greater speed toward the center of the black hole that is the 2018 football season.

I mean, when it’s time to talk plumbing, it’s time to talk plumbing, so when the tight end was asked how his quarterback, C.J. Beathard, would deal with another four-turnover game in a 39-10 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, Kittle minced nothing.

“He’s good at flushing the game,” Kittle said as he surveyed a listless game in which his performance was among the most obviously energetic. “That’s what he’s gonna do. That’s what we’re all gonna do.”

He even offered an update later in his postgame flog-a-thon.

“I’ve already flushed it,” he said. “I’m ready for next week.”

Well, OK then. Do what you want with that, but Kittle can verify, and has, that the pipes at the old yard play up to the very highest NFL standard. The rest of it was pretty sub-meh.

[RELATED: Shanahan will ride with Beathard]

That’s how it figured to go, to be fair. The Rams are one of the league’s few elite teams, and the 49ers are their funhouse-mirror opposites. Los Angeles had struggled to win its last two games of this three-game roadie and, if you believe in the law of big numbers, were due for a serious administration of justice.

Which is what they did, largely to Beathard’s consternation. They forced two fumbles and intercepted two passes to lead to 24 points, blocked a punt for a safety, sacked Beathard seven times, held the 49ers offense to 58 plays and 229 yards, and other than Kittle were unbothered by whatever San Francisco tried to hurl back in response.

It was the opposite of “football happens,” the default position when a game makes no sense. This game made perfect sense -- better team comprehensively hammers worse team.

Ahh, but Kittle’s report that what you just saw already has been dealt with in the most lavatorial sense surely must give you hope, especially when you consider the 49ers' next three games are against teams with equally septic concerns -- the Cardinals, Raiders and New York Giants.

The 49ers now have lost 16 games in the Kyle Shanahan regime, and for the most part, those games have been relatively competitive; Sunday’s was the second-worst defeat he and they have endured in the past two seasons (they lost at home to the Cowboys last year, 40-10), and one of the rare times they were dominated statistically across the board.

They looked every inch the 1-6 team they are, which is why Kittle was so eager to make this a game to send to the sea.

Indeed, Shanahan looked tired and at a loss to explain such a tiresome defeat. You can tell that’s the case when he says the coaches are partially to blame for the turnover problem when, at last check, no coach has ever fumbled and few throw passes that are intercepted. It’s a default position so that the coach doesn’t look like he’s assigning blame without carrying his share, even if he doesn’t have a share to carry.

[RELATED: Takeaways from 49ers loss]

On the other hand, Shanahan also is reaching rope’s end with that blame deflector.

“If it was just one thing, you could say one thing. If it was just one guy, you’d say one guy,” the coach said, after describing the problem as “inexcusable” and an “impossible” impediment to winning. “But it’s an accumulation of things . . . We talk about the ball and work on going after the ball as much as you possibly can. You don’t stop. You don’t ignore it. You keep preaching those same things. You keep drilling those same thing, and you expect to get better the more you work at it. If it doesn’t, you’ve got to find people who do take care of it.”

But draining aside, there is a potential rainbow emerging from this particular corner of the waste treatment plant. There are still, as we’ve said, the Cardinals (1-6), the Raiders (1-5) and the Giants (1-5) -- three straight high-draft-pick games in succession to determine just how well the plumbing is expected to perform. At some point, after all, there has to be a flush of success for someone to enjoy as opposed to another successful flush, and if you had to make an objective choice, the 49ers are best positioned to accomplish that.

Until then, though, the 49ers must keep the pipes clear, the limescale down, the air freshener replenished, and the paper receptacle filled and operable. Kittle has told us the standard this team upholds each week, and it probably will be awhile before they get to spend more time enjoying the other parts of the house.

Should 49ers trade for Trent Williams after Joe Staley's broken leg?

Should 49ers trade for Trent Williams after Joe Staley's broken leg?

The 49ers' version of Mr. Reliable will be off the field for at least six to eight weeks. Since 2011, left tackle Joe Staley has missed a total of four games. 

He will miss more than that alone this season after breaking his left fibula in the 49ers' 41-17 blowout road win Sunday over the Bengals. Staley expects to be out for six weeks, but don't put that timeline in pen. The 49ers are lucky his injury doesn't require season-ending surgery, but who knows when he will full be healthy. 

Which begs the question, what do the 49ers do now?

Coach Kyle Shanahan turned to rookie Justin Skule when Staley went down Sunday, but a sixth-round draft pick isn't exactly who you want protecting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo's blind side. The 49ers could go bargain hunting or they could turn to a star who Shanahan is familiar with. 

With their first 2-0 start since 2012 and a chance to make it three straight wins when the 49ers face quarterback Mason Rudolph and the Steelers on Sunday instead of the injured Ben Roethlisberger, Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have to assess this team's immediate future. That means the idea of trading for Washington's left tackle Trent Williams, who still is holding out for a larger contract. 

Williams, 31, is a seven-time Pro Bowler and a beast of a man at 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds. He desperately wants out of Washington and has worked with Shanahan before when the 49ers coach was his offensive coordinator for four seasons from 2010 through 2013. But Williams would come with a hefty price tag. 

To acquire Williams, the 49ers would have to give up a first-round draft pick, and they already lost their 2020 second-round pick when they traded for Dee Ford. He also has a $14.6 million salary-cap hit for 2020. Williams wants a new deal and the 49ers likely would have to secure him for the long haul. 

If that would be the case, the 49ers would be choosing Williams over Staley, who they signed to a new contract through 2021 this past offseason. Staley, 35, wants to be in red and gold his entire career. Are the 49ers willing to turn an eye on a player who has been loyal through tumultuous times?

The more likely scenario has the 49ers trading for another depth tackle. But is that the right move? 

Garoppolo showed superstar flashes Sunday. The 49ers have a plethora of running backs who can break off big runs and their defensive line might be the best in the NFL. Through two weeks, this team looks like a top-10 team in football

[RELATED: Now-injured Staley vows to coach 49ers rookie left tackle]

Lynch and Shanahan are sick of losing. In Year 3, they have playoffs on their minds. How far are they willing to go, though? 

The 49ers have a big decision to make and they can't waste any time while doing so.

49ers snap count: Matt Breida starts, shines, rests in blowout victory over Bengals

49ers snap count: Matt Breida starts, shines, rests in blowout victory over Bengals

Running back Matt Breida made the most of his limited snaps Sunday in the 49ers’ 41-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Breida started but played just 21 snaps of offense. Before he was told to take the rest of the day off, he rushed for a game-high 121 yards on 12 carries. He also caught one pass for 11 yards.

The 49ers made a point to spread the ball around in the running game, as the club played its first game without Tevin Coleman, who sustained a high-ankle sprain in Week 1.

“That was the plan all year,” Breida said. “All of us are great running backs, and all of us are starters.”

Raheem Mostert, whom the 49ers consider one of the top special teams players in the league, did not get much work in the kicking game. But he played 34 snaps at running back and came through with 83 yards rushing on 13 carries to go along with three catches for 68 yards and a touchdown.

The 49ers promoted Jeff Wilson from the practice squad on Saturday, and he played 15 snaps. Wilson gained 34 yards and his first two NFL touchdowns on 10 rushing attempts.

“We’ve got a bunch of guys that can run the ball,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “We were happy that we were able to keep Jeff around here. We knew it was just a matter of time before we were going to need him.

“The guys stepped up huge. Breida, we took care of him in the second half and tried to take away some of the wear and tear on him.”

Wide receiver Deebo Samuel took fewer snaps on Sunday but experienced an increase in production. Samuel, who played 29 of the 49ers’ 72 snaps against the Bengals, caught five passes for 87 yards and a touchdown.

Dante Pettis played just two snaps in the 49ers’ season-opener at Tampa Bay. On Sunday, he played 35 snaps but did not catch a pass. He completed a 16-yard pass to Mostert on a gadget play.

[RELATED: Grading 49ers' offense, defense in big road win vs. Bengals]

The 49ers had a constant rotation of defensive lineman, as each of the nine linemen who suited up for the game played at least 21 snaps.

Dee Ford played 25 snaps in the first half but did not play in the second half after experiencing irritation in his quad, Shanahan said. Ford was on a stationary bike on the 49ers’ sideline throughout the second half.

Offense

Total offensive snaps: 72
Quarterback – Jimmy Garoppolo 72
Running back – Kyle Juszczyk 37, Raheem Mostert 34, Matt Breida 21, Jeff Wilson 15
Wide receiver – Marquise Goodwin 37, Dante Pettis 35, Richie James 33, Deebo Samuel 29, Kendrick Bourne 23
Tight end – George Kittle 48, Levine Toilolo 34, Ross Dwelley 14
Offensive line – Mike McGlinchey 72, Weston Richburg 72, Laken Tomlinson 72, Mike Person 66, Joe Staley 53, Justin Skule 19, Ben Garland 6
Did not play – Nick Mullens

Defense

Total defensive snaps: 70
Defensive line – Arik Armstead 43, D.J. Jones 37, Ronald Blair 35, DeForest Buckner 34, Solomon Thomas 33, Nick Bosa 31, Dee Ford 25, Sheldon Day 24, Jullian Taylor 21
Linebacker – Fred Warner 55, Kwon Alexander 52, Dre Greenlaw 20, Azeez Al-Shaair 15, Mark Nzeocha 1
Defensive back – Tarvarius Moore 70, Ahkello Witherspoon 69, Jaquiski Tartt 55, Richard Sherman 54, K’Waun Williams 50, Emmanuel Moseley 16, Antone Exum 15, D.J. Reed 15

Special teams

Total special teams plays: 31
Moseley 23, Greenlaw 23, Al-Shaair 19, Exum 19, Dwelley 18, Mitch Wishnowsky 17, Reed 15, Bourne 14, Buckner 13, Armstead 13, Jones 13, Moore 13, Wilson 12, Colin Holba 10, James 9, Witherspoon 9, Robbie Gould 9, Tartt 8, McGlinchey 8, Richburg 8, Person 8, Tomlinson 8, Staley 6, Toilolo 6, Mostert 4, Thomas 4, Juszczyk 3, Warner 2, Garland 2, Ford 1, Alexander 1, Kittle 1, Nzeocha 1

Not active

QB C.J. Beathard
RB Tevin Coleman (ankle)
WR Trent Taylor (foot)
WR Jalen Hurd (back)
CB Jason Verrett
DB Jimmie Ward (finger)
OL Daniel Brunskill