Position grades, analysis from SF 49ers ugly Week 1 loss vs. Cardinals
This might have been the best positional group of the lost if not for the poor blocking that led to the blocked punt that completely turned the momentum around, ultimately leading to a quick Cardinals touchdown two plays later.
Kicker Robbie Gould kicked everything he needed to, while punter Mitch Wishnowsky kicked long and true with three of his four punts downed inside the opposition’s 20-yard line.
That one blocked punt counted for a lot, though, hence the deduction.
This was bad. This was really, really bad by both head coach Kyle Shanahan and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. In fact, if I was grading Saleh alone, this would be an easy F-grade.
Shanahan didn’t have it easy. The blockers weren’t firing properly and neither was Jimmy Garoppolo, he was down his two best receivers and George Kittle got hurt.
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But it seems Shanahan was second guessing himself all day with inconsistent aggressive play calls. On 4th-and-short early, on he opted for a field goal instead of trying to take the game on early. On 4th-and-1 on the goal line, he went aggressive and got stopped. This was the correct call, but then on a subsequent 4th-and-short, he elected to punt the ball.
Shanahan lacks consistent aggression in these situations, but it could be argued if he had played safe all the way, then they could have added three points onto the tally earlier and then been down 24-23 instead of 24-20 late when a field goal could have sufficed.
Shanahan couldn’t scheme players open consistently, and he seemed in two minds. It was a bad season debut for him.
However, what was bad for Shanahan was downright apocalyptic for Saleh.
It staggers belief Kyler Murray ran 13 times for 91 yards and a touchdown. It staggers absolute belief the SF 49ers did not run a spy to stop him effectively enough.
Murray was not punished the 49ers unduly through the air, and the running game was not working much for Arizona. So many drives were extended, including a 3rd-and-long situation, by Murray opting to run when pressured.
The team also did not adjust for DeAndre Hopkins whatsoever despite catching more than half the passes. Emmanuel Moseley was being burnt constantly and no adjustments were made.
Saleh is a great defensive coordinator, but mobile QBs have always been his weakness. The stubbornness in using a spy was directly responsible for the downfall of San Francisco in Week 1.