San Francisco’s defensive line — a unit in which the team has so heavily invested in previous years — should be a strength. It is, but it’s not quite the difference maker we’ve come to hope for over the first five weeks of 2017.
San Francisco 49ers
First-round draftee, defensive end Solomon Thomas, hasn’t looked great as a pass-rusher and whiffed on a few play-action passes from Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett.
Thomas should improve, but it’s frustrating to see the No. 3 overall pick from the NFL Draft not having the kind of impact other rookies around the league (see cornerback Marshon Lattimore or safety Malik Hooker) are having this deep into the season.
No. 1 cornerback Rashard Robinson isn’t going to get thrown under the bus by himself this week, as all the Niners corners bear a large portion of the blame in Week 5.
Granted, the lack of a persistent pass rush hurts. But San Francisco’s secondary was regularly victimized by Brissett and Co. — a unit which, coming into this game, ranked 29th in the NFL with 722 passing yards.
Add 314 more to that number.
Robinson had his weekly interference-like penalty, and fellow cornerback Dontae Johnson was victimized by Colts wideout T.Y. Hilton on more than one occasion.
With injuries to corners Asa Jackson and Ahkello Witherspoon, safety Jimmie Ward had to drop down into the cornerback spot. Even that didn’t go so well:
Here’s where stats can get tricky.
Quarterback Brian Hoyer’s line looked pretty good, and one could argue he more than did his job getting San Francisco back in the ballgame late.
Hoyer finished the day going 29-of-46 for 353 yards and two touchdowns, finishing the day with a passer rating of 101.1.
Sounds like a great day, right?
Perhaps, but one of Hoyer’s two touchdowns came off a red-zone shovel pass to fullback Kyle Juszczyk, although the toss to tight end George Kittle was good enough.
But overall, Hoyer still lacks the true accuracy and pocket poise to effectively lead an offense regularly.
How many of his incomplete passes sailed five or 10 feet over receivers’ heads? Seven, the last we counted.