5 biggest reasons behind SF 49ers ugly start to 2020 season

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /
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Kerry Hyder, Daniel Jones, SF 49ers, NY Giants
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) hit by San Francisco 49ers defensive end Kerry Hyder (92) Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports /

No. 2: SF 49ers’ pass rush not getting home

As previously mentioned, the loss of Nick Bosa and Dee Ford this season has had the biggest impact on the defense. It’s possible it’s the worst of all the injuries the SF 49ers have sustained in 2020, especially Bosa’s ACL.

This has caused plenty of issues, such as the aforementioned ability of the pass rush not to create pressures, but to get home and get sacks or even keep opposing quarterbacks close.

The lack of speed on the edge of the defensive line has been apparent when plays begin to break down and quarterbacks are forced to run for yardage. And this season it seems like they are always successful against this defensive front.

Part of that is the team’s failure to stop running quarterbacks like Arizona’s Kyler Murray, Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson, and Seattle’s Russell Wilson, an issue they had throughout last season, too.

But in 2020, that has extended into names that most NFL fans would necessarily lump into the same category as Murray, Jackson, and Wilson in terms of athleticism and elusiveness. Names like the Giants’ Daniel Jones, the Jets’ Sam Darnold, and the Dolphins’ Ryan Fitzpatrick (the Eagles’ Carson Wentz is probably in between these two groups, to be fair).

Excluding Murray’s 91 yards in Week 1, the defense has allowed a combined 17 carries for 109 yards to Darnold, Jones, Wentz, and Fitzpatrick. While some of that has been on designed runs, especially with Jones and Wentz, a lot of it has also been the line lacking speed to contain the edges.

The lack of sacks is also an issue (10, just 21st in the league), as it means the 49ers aren’t forcing defenses into difficult down and distance situations.

But the downgrade of the defensive line has put even more pressure on an ever-deteriorating defensive backfield, whose depth is being tested and showing poorly so far.

It also leads to the downfall of a defense that has actually stepped up more often than not, despite the beatdown they took at the hands of the Dolphins this past Sunday.