Where do the 49ers go from here?


Nov 1, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) passes the ball under pressure from St. Louis Rams defensive end William Hayes (95) during the second half at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers season continues to go in reverse. After another ugly loss yesterday to the St. Louis Rams 27-6 at the Edward Jones Dome, which was their second straight game without a touchdown, this team is at crisis level.

This proud franchise is now in some serious disarray. Staring at a 2-6 record, injuries that are piling up, and the same tired excuses from the coaching staff after each loss, this is fast becoming old news.

Where do the 49ers go from here?

The 49ers have another game this weekend in Week 9 against the Atlanta Falcons (6-2 record) at Levi’s Stadium, then comes their Week 10 bye. Based on how this season is spiraling downwards, certain changes should be coming during the bye week.

Bench quarterback Colin Kaepernick temporarily

Firstly, some serious decisions have to made regarding personnel. QB Colin Kaepernick, despite having a couple of good games, has regressed. He is not seeing the field well, as is shown in this play clip from yesterday’s game, where he just didn’t see two open receivers (you can see the frustration from wide receiver Torrey Smith), per SB Nation:

Kaepernick was under a 50 percent completion rate again yesterday (20-of-41 for 162 yards, 59.2 QB rating). He just doesn’t complete enough throws, and his confidence seems to be at an all-time low. Though I have very little confidence in backup QB Blaine Gabbert (remember he has a career 5-22 record as a starter), it is time to sit Kaepernick this week against the Falcons and with the bye, this will give him a full two weeks to have a mental break to clear his head.

Per Bryson Vesnaver of Pro Football Focus, Kaepernick had a minus-6.5 rating for yesterday’s game and is their second-worst rated NFL QB for the season:

"Kaepernick makes his way back onto this team thanks to a poor performance against the St. Louis Rams. He finished with a -8.1 passing grade on the day, thanks in large part to his paltry under-pressure stats (3-of-13 for 12 yards). The 49ers’ offense kept it simple, running a ton of play action and bootleg dumps to the flats, and Kaepernick struggled even to hit those. It’s been a tough year for San Francisco quarterback, and he now sits with our second-worst grade among QBs this season."

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This break can only be beneficial to him to get refreshed and re-group for the second half of the season. He doesn’t need to be benched for the rest of the season. He can still be a good QB if he can get his head right and he can work in the right system that maximizes his strengths.

Head coach Jim Tomsula has indicated that “every position,” including the starting QB, is under review per Jason La Canfora of NFL Network:

Shake up the offensive line

Secondly, Kaepernick has certainly been affected by an anemic offensive line. The problems on the right side have been well-documented. This is the starting right guard’s efforts per Jeff Deeney of Pro Football Focus:

How is this guy still starting? The platoon system with Andrew Tiller is not working. When are they going to make a real change to shore up this weakness?

Now, more disturbingly, the usually solid left side of the line is disintegrating, as left guard Alex Boone had the second-worst grading for guards at minus-6.8 per Pro Football Focus. The Rams defensive line just toyed with the O-line, and this led to just 38 total rushing yards for the 49ers.

It is time to give the younger linemen a shot at starting, including inserting Trent Brown to right tackle and, despite yesterday’s poor game, moving Boone to right guard and Tiller to left guard. And, once center Daniel Kilgore is healthy, putting him back at center and keeping Marcus Martin and Ian Silberman as backups. There is still the option of trading for another lineman before tomorrow’s trade deadline, though that seems the most unlikely scenario to happen.

Fire offensive coordinator Geep Chryst

Thirdly, the coaching staff needs to be shaken up. The 49ers offense is the lowest-scoring in the NFL, and ranks last in total offense. Offensive coordinator Geep Chryst is not getting it done, and he has got worse as the 49ers coordinator this season, per Bay Area Sports Guy:

This is not good enough — it is time to move on from Chryst. He has not shown the ability to turn this performance around, and his game plans lack imagination. He has been hurt by all the injuries at the running back position, however receivers Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin are not being utilized enough and Kaepernick cannot hit them when they are wide open.

Next: 2015 NFL Trade Deadline: 49ers Trade Tight End Vernon Davis to the Broncos

These are basic ideas to try and change the status quo, which is not working. The bigger changes will come in the upcoming offseason. Whether Tomsula and the other coaches keep their jobs, and also perhaps GM Trent Baalke, that will be decided then (unless Tomsula completely loses the locker room and the 49ers are blown out every week, then there would likely be a coaching change before the end of the season).

The 49ers need to do some serious soul-searching in the upcoming couple of weeks and decide once and for all what type of team they want to be, and to make changes to players and coaches who are not performing up to an acceptable level.

Change can be good for change’s sake. The 2-6 record is not acceptable. It’s time for change we can believe in!