Special Teams and Coaching
The 49ers’ kicking unit picked a bad day to have their worst game in years. Kicker Robbie Gould missed his lone field goal attempt, and didn’t get a chance to convert San Francisco’s only extr point try due to a botched snap and hold. Punter, holder and kickoff specialist Bradley Pinion was best with his kickoffs — none of which were returned — while he averaged 37.3 net yards per punt, as one of his punts was returned for no yardage, but another short punt found its way into the end zone.
In the return game, cornerback D.J. Reed returned a kickoff for 29 yards, and wide receiver Richie James‘ lone kick return went for 32 yards. Wide receiver Trent Taylor continued his punt-return duties for San Francisco despite returning three punts for a grand total of three yards.
The 49ers lost a game they should have won, and blame falls on both the players and the coaching staff. Shanahan started the game with a well-orchestrated offensive drive filled with misdirection plays that put the ball into the end zone in 10 plays. Shanahan continued to call a good game until he Breida was lost for the remainder of the contest. Without Breida, Shanahan relied on the passing game, yet his play calling was passive, likely because the 49ers’ offense — with Goodwin sidelined — lacks dynamic playmakers.
This fact makes it more surprising that Shanahan didn’t give James more playing time on offense. Technically, James started the game because of the Niners’ offensive personnel on their first play, but he was only targeted twice on short passes over the course of the game. James ran for 19 yards after the catch on those two passes, although the first was called back due to a penalty on Morris. Shanahan knows what he has in wideout Victor Bolden, who saw twice as many snaps as the rookie in Sunday’s game. On a team lacking electric playmakers, James should see a significant portion of the 49ers’ offensive snaps, particularly with Goodwin sidelined.
In Week 6, the San Francisco 49ers head to Lambeau Field for a matchup with the 2-2-1 Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football.