Niner Noise takes a look at the 1-7 San Francisco 49ers and breaks down report-card grades for each position at the halfway point of the 2018 season.
Well, 2018 hasn’t exactly gone according to plan for the San Francisco 49ers.
Before the football year began, most probably would have predicted something close to a .500 record. Maybe a few games above or a game below. Yet after a slew of injury setbacks, including season-ending ACL tears to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and running back Jerick McKinnon, the Niners now find themselves at 1-7 halfway through the season and looking at the stark reality of getting the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
In fairness to head coach Kyle Shanahan and Co., the season was essentially awash when two of his top offensive playmakers were lost. That changed everything, and the injuries revealed the multitude of problems this roster currently has.
That said, one can’t find solutions without doing a thorough evaluation of each bit.
At the 2018 quarter mark, Niner Noise dished out progress-report grades for each unit on both sides of the ball. There were a handful of standout units. But the vast majority of positions weren’t overly stellar.
Not much has changed between Week 4 and Week 8. In some ways, the Niners have gotten worse.
Fortunately, there are a few positives to look at. So let’s kick off San Francisco’s report-card grades halfway through the 2018 season and see where the team stands looking at the second half of its schedule.
Starting off with special teams.
Kicker Robbie Gould is roughly on pace to match both his field-goal percentage (94.1) and extra-point percentage (92.9) from 2017. Both numbers are a shade below what he posted a year ago, but the difference is negligible. He’s missed just one attempt this season in each category.
It’s not likely Gould matches the league-high 39 field goals made in 2017, as he’s on pace to get 32 this year. But that’s not so much on Gould.
Punter Bradley Pinion hasn’t been a liability either, averaging 42.6 yards per punt.
Kick returner D.J. Reed has had two fumbles on returns this year, and the Niners are still searching for that explosive return man. Wide receiver Dante Pettis was supposed to be it after setting collegiate records on punt returns, but it hasn’t happened yet.
San Francisco’s special teams coverage unit is allowing 25.7 yards on average per kick return and 9.2 yards on average per punt return — both within the top 10 of the league. Give some credit to special teams coordinator Richard Hightower.