Top 5 takeaways from 49ers' Week 4 loss to Packers
Few people would have thought the 49ers stood much of a chance to emerge from this three-game stretch against Pittsburgh, Arizona and Green Bay with a victory. But it’s the fashion in which they went down in defeat in three consecutive games that has the organization – and its fans – reeling. CEO Jed York and GM Trent Baalke made widespread changes following last season’s 8-8 campaign. But the new-look 49ers appear to be falling far short of the team’s expectation of being a serious playoff contender in Jim Tomsula’s first season after replacing Jim Harbaugh as head coach. On Sunday, most of the issues were on one side of the ball in their 17-3 loss to the Green Bay Packers. “Offensively, obviously, we’ve got to get some things ironed out,” Tomsula said...
5) Special-teams not immune
Lack of awareness from blockers L.J. McCray and Jaquiski Tartt nearly resulted in a turnover when they were blocked into Jarryd Hayne on an attempted punt return. Hayne was charged with a muffed punt, but it was clearly not his fault. The 49ers were unable to get anything from their return game. Meanwhile, rookie punter Bradley Pinion’s statistics remain acceptable, but he needs to show better consistency. Along with outstanding punts of 59, 56 and 45 yards with no returns, Pinion also produced clunkers of just 21, 36 and 30 yards.
4) Getting out of the zone
In blowout losses to Pittsburgh and Arizona, the 49ers’ pass defense looked horrible. Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer repeatedly found gaps in the 49ers’ zone defense to exploit. On Sunday, the 49ers played a lot more man defense and the result was a much-improved showing against one of the league’s top quarterbacks, Aaron Rodgers. It was not perfect, of course, but Tramaine Brock, Kenneth Acker and Jimmie Ward were generally solid in coverage against one of the most difficult teams in the league to defend. At least one area of the 49ers did something to give them encouragement, with Aaron Lynch providing a solid pass rush with two sacks.
3) Kaepernick’s struggles mount
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s four-interception performance against Arizona had a noticeable carry-over effect to Sunday’s game against the Packers. His confidence was clearly shaken. Despite going up against man coverage and no deep safety for most of the game, Kaepernick was reluctant to challenge Green Bay’s secondary. He said he intentionally threw several passes out of bounds to reduce the risk of turnovers. “I’m not just going to throw a ball into coverage,” he said. “I’m going to protect the throws myself so we can protect the ball as an offense.” Tomsula maintains that Kaepernick, not backup Blaine Gabbert, gives the 49ers their best chance to win games.
2) Body of work
Not only are the 49ers mired in a three-game losing streak and playing poorly on the field. But the team’s collective attitude is stinking up the joint. Wide receivers Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin repeatedly showed up Kaepernick during Sunday’s game – whether that was their intent or not – with gestures of disgust and poor body language. Said Kaepernick, “I understand the frustration, yes, but it’s a team game. They want to win. I understand that.” Tomsula’s biggest challenge at this point is holding the team together and making sure everyone is pulling in the same direction.
1) Offensive woes
Among the largest miscalculations of the 49ers’ management and front office was how the organization viewed the man running the offense for the past four seasons. The team’s brass wanted to get rid of offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Through four games, it appears obvious that Roman was not the problem. The 49ers’ offense has been stuck in reverse under new coordinator Geep Chryst, who served as QBs coach the past four seasons. The scheme is simple, and some of the play-calling has been highly questionable, such as the third-and-11 handoff to Reggie Bush into the center of the line for no gain. The big question is whether the 49ers have the answers to fix their many problems.