Top 5 takeaways from 49ers' 33-21 loss to Cardinals
Top 5 takeaways from 49ers' Week 5 loss
The 49ers are a team with very little margin for error. But the errors kept piling up – one on top of another and another and another – in the team’s 33-21 loss to the Arizona Cardinals at Levi’s Stadium. The 49ers were bad in every imaginable way on Thursday night. They entered with the fewest passing yards in the league, and their average only got worse. The 49ers committed three turnovers, and the defense allowed an opposing running back to rush for 100-plus yards for the fourth consecutive game.
5) Woes in the passing game
On the 49ers’ first third down of the game, tight end Garrett Celek was open and quarterback Blaine Gabbert delivered the ball to him on target. Celek dropped the pass. The 49ers’ pass protection had been solid through four games. But after Gabbert was sacked just three times in 16 quarters, the Cardinals got to him seven times on Thursday, including a safety. In other words, Gabbert did not get a lot of help. But more on him later. . .
4) Holes in defense
The 49ers’ defensive line continues to get pushed around at the point of attack. David Johnson rushed for 157 yards and two touchdowns. The Cardinals' top back continued a trend of running through the 49ers’ beleaguered defense. Linebacker Nick Bellore, making his first NFL start, recorded a team-high nine tackles, but he had too many missed tackles. Cornerback Tramaine Brock surrendered two touchdown passes to Larry Fitzgerald. The 49ers generated no takeaways.
3) Rare bright spots
OK, let’s take a brief break to focus on some of the positives. Punter Bradley Pinion had one of his best days. He averaged 49.9 yards on seven punts with an impressive net average of 46.3 yards. Rookie cornerback Rashard Robinson continues to play well, and he should remain in a starting role even when Jimmie Ward returns. But the team’s MVP through five games is slot receiver Jeremy Kerley, who caught eight passes for 102 yards and a TD.
2) Is Kap ready?
Gabbert is not getting the job done. “I let this team and this organization down tonight,” Gabbert said. “I did not play good whatsoever. And that’s on me.” The crowd chanted for Colin Kaepernick. But it’s been clear up to this point that the 49ers’ coaching staff has much more confidence in Gabbert. Whether Kaepernick does not seem fully engaged, or whatever the case may be, coach Chip Kelly confirmed that Gabbert has been practicing better than Kaepernick. The players are off until Tuesday, when they will likely find out who will start against Buffalo.
1) Crisis point for Chip
This is the first big test for Kelly, who finally left the door open to considering a change at quarterback. Gabbert was the popular and obvious choice to open the season as the starter. But, now, the 49ers are mired in a four-game losing streak. Gabbert is not the only the problem with the 49ers' offense. But it appears as if he’s not part of the solution, either. Kelly must consider everything. He could make the switch now or he could split their practice time and keep Gabbert as the starter but have him on a very short leash for the Oct. 16 game at Buffalo.