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49ers Overreactions: Was it a mistake not signing Brady?

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The 49ers’ thoroughly confounding loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday was our first big test for this weekly feature.

Overreactions? How can there possibly be overreactions from that disastrous performance?

After all, other than running back Raheem Mostert, everyone associated with 49ers’ 43-17 loss is fully deserving of every bad review, abject criticism and accusatory question.

But we strive to provide 49ers fans with a measured, rational voice of reason in good times and bad.

Overreaction? Yes.

I did not buy it at the time, and I still do not believe replacing Garoppolo with 43-year-old Tom Brady was the prudent offseason move for the 49ers.

Of course, Brady is one of the all-time greats. When the 49ers learned Brady was interested in returning to the Bay Area to finish his career, they had to take a deep dive to determine if that was the move they wanted to consider.

Let’s also remember that Brady’s final season with the Patriots was not great. His accuracy and yards per attempt were far lower than the numbers Garoppolo put up last season in his first full season as an NFL starter.

Garoppolo had been in Kyle Shanahan’s offense since November 2017, so time has been invested. And Garoppolo is still on the rise.

Was Shanahan going to teach Brady his system or was Brady going to tell Shanahan what he wanted to do? I just don’t see how that was going to work.

 

It is an overreaction to completely write off Garoppolo after he played poorly upon his return to action from a high ankle sprain.

And Brady is not perfect, either. Tampa Bay’s Week 5 game ended with Brady’s mental mistake of believing a fourth-down pass attempt in the final minute was actually third down.

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Overreaction? Let’s take this case by case . . . 

For the past two years, my opinion was that the 49ers had to do everything in their power to sign DeForest Buckner and George Kittle to long-term extensions.

Buckner and Kittle are everything any team would want as players and individuals.

So, yes, I was shocked when the 49ers re-signed Arik Armstead and dealt away Buckner.

Then, it seemed to work out for the 49ers when they got a first-round pick from the Indianapolis Colts for Buckner, traded back one spot to select Javon Kinlaw and traded up for Brandon Aiyuk. Kinlaw is not Buckner. I’m not sure he will ever come close to rivaling Buckner as an all-around player. I’m also unsure whether Kinlaw will ever become a leader like Buckner.

The 49ers did not enter the draft with many chips, so getting a top-flight cornerback was probably not going to happen. They filled their needs at defensive tackle and wide receiver in the first round. Their next selection was in the fourth round. They did address the offensive line at that point with Colton McKivitz.

“If you think that there's a corner there in the fourth round that we really would have liked, and we liked him more than McKivitz, who we took, hell, yeah, we would've done that,” Shanahan said on Monday. “But in the fourth round, we took the best player that we thought, and that was McKivitz.”

On the final point, I’m not ready to turn the page on Garoppolo.

It could be that I get to that point later in the season, but I’m not close to coming to that conclusion right now.

Overreaction? No.

Let me backtrack a little. Saleh deserved credit last season. But there is also no denying his job was made a heck of a lot easier because of the team’s ability to get pressure on the quarterback with a four-man pass rush.

Nick Bosa was one of the NFL’s best edge rushers. Dee Ford was productive on the other side, registering 6.5 sacks in 11 games. Buckner and Armstead combined for 17.5 sacks.

This season, the 49ers have no pass rush without Bosa, Ford and Buckner.

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And four of the 49ers’ top five cornerbacks – Richard Sherman, Emmanuel Moseley, Ahkello Witherspoon and Dontae Johnson – have been unavailable.

It would be unrealistic to think the 49ers’ defense could pick up where it left off from last season.

 

But in the game against the Dolphins, there is no doubt Saleh should have done a better job of compensating for the glaring weaknesses.