San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said he thought his team looked “slow and tired” when he reviewed the film from Sunday’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
“When that does happen, I think it leads to bigger holes, I think it leads to more mistakes, I think it leads to mistackles,” Shanahan said on a Monday conference call. “I could see on tape a different type of energy that was disappointing.”
Those issues were conspicuous against Cincinnati. The Bengals held the ball for 31:23, the third straight game the 49ers have lost the time-of-possession battle. San Francisco’s defense, which was so efficient in Weeks 1-5, gave up 29 first downs and the Bengals ran 63 plays versus 59 for the 49ers.
The team also emerged with two new injuries. Linebacker Dre Greenlaw, who’d been battling a hamstring issue, now also is dealing with a shoulder sprain. He looked more bedraggled than anyone (see below) and is considered day-to-day with his new injury.
Left guard Aaron Banks, meanwhile, suffered turf toe and might miss a couple of games after the bye, according to Shanahan. Jon Feliciano likely would step into the starting lineup with Banks out.
The 49ers were coming off of back-to-back trip to the Upper Midwest, the second of which came on Monday night in Minnesota. Their fatigue was evident in the way they played Sunday and underscores that their bye week is coming in the nick of time.
49ers grasping to regain complementary identity as losing streak hits 3 games
Here’s how the individual snaps were divided:
Quarterback: Brock Purdy 59
Sunday offered plenty for \ Purdy detractors and enthusiasts. He had three second-half turnovers, including a pair of bad-decision throws that turned into interceptions and cost the 49ers points. He also had eight pass plays of 20 yards or more. That’s the most the 49ers have had in a game since the season finale of the 2015 season when Blaine Gabbert had 354 yards in an overtime win over the Los Angeles Rams. Purdy would have had nine in the 20-plus category had Brandon Aiyuk not dropped a pass at the end of the first half.
It also was Purdy’s best game when it came to extending plays in the face of pass-rush pressure. He hit Aiyuk on a 31-yard strike after being flushed from the pocket in the first quarter. During desperation time in the fourth quarter, he extended another play by fleeing to the sideline, then throwing back across the field to George Kittle for a first down. There was another across-his-body throw on the next play, this one a 4-yard touchdown to Christian McCaffrey.
Purdy was under pressure on 46.2 percent of his dropbacks. The only game this season in which he experienced more pressure was the Week 6 loss in Cleveland, 48.4 percent. He also responded to the pass rush with his legs, rushing six times for a career-high 57 yards, which is 1 more yard than the 49ers’ running back crew ended up with.
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Running back: McCaffrey 57, Kyle Juszczyk (fullback) 22, Elijah Mitchell 7, Kittle 2
Due to the Bengals’ lead and some early-down penalties, McCaffrey had just 12 carries. His only game this season with fewer — 11 carries — came in Cleveland when he missed most of the second half due to an oblique injury.
Last year, the 49ers had success in using McCaffrey and Jeff Wilson Jr. in the backfield together in a Week 8 win over the Rams. They seemed poised to do the same thing with Mitchell and McCaffrey on Sunday, with the pair lining up together twice in the first quarter, including on McCaffrey’s 2-yard touchdown run. That tandem, however, also suffered from the lack of overall running plays and the 49ers used it only once more in the game.
Receiver: Aiyuk 54, Jauan Jennings 50, Ray-Ray McCloud III 29, Ronnie Bell 4, Willie Snead IV 1
Purdy certainly didn’t spread the ball around on Sunday. Of his 30 pass attempts, 27 went to Kittle (11), Aiyuk (9) and McCaffrey (7). Jennings, who had nine targets in Minnesota, had zero targets versus the Bengals.
Jennings also was flagged for holding in the second quarter, which wiped out a 7-yard run by McCaffrey. The 49ers were penalized five times. The Bengals had one penalty, which didn’t come until there was under two minutes left in the game.
Tight end: Kittle 53, Charlie Woerner 11, Ross Dwelley 4
After being targeted just seven times in the passing game in Weeks 4-6, Kittle has seen 18 targets in the last two games. His 149 receiving yards on Sunday were his highest total since he had 151 yards against the Bengals on Dec. 21, 2021.
He probably should have had more. Kittle had two drops in the game. Aiyuk had one that probably cost the team points at the end of the first half.
Offensive line: Jaylon Moore 59, Banks 59, Jake Brendel 50, Spencer Burford 59, Colton McKivitz 59
The 49ers opened the game with their bread-and-butter play, an outside zone run to the right that gained 8 yards. One of the postgame laments from Kittle and others was that they didn’t use it much from that point. There was one more outside zone run — also to the right — on the 49ers’ first offensive snap of the third quarter that gained 9 yards. But it was called back due to a holding penalty against Burford.
Burford leads the 49ers offensive players in penalties with seven: three for holding, one false start, one facemask, one illegal use of hands and one illegal man downfield. Cornerback Charvarius Ward has the overall the team lead with eight penalties: three for pass interference, three for holding and two for illegal contact.
Shanahan said the 49ers felt on Saturday that left tackle Trent Williams (ankle) was too far away from playing and that he didn’t test the ankle before the game. The hope is that Williams will be able to take part in the team’s next practice on Nov. 6.
Quarterback pressures allowed:
- Burford 3
- Brendel 3
- Moore 2
- Banks 2
- McKivitz 1
Defensive line: Nick Bosa 63, Arik Armstead 48, Javon Hargrave 44, Clelin Ferrell 37, Kevin Givens 17, Javon Kinlaw 17, Randy Gregory 16, Drake Jackson 10
Bosa never left the field Sunday, even during the Bengals’ final clock-killing drive when the outcome was decided. It was the first time in his career he played 100 percent of the team’s snaps. Shanahan said the upcoming bye week was part of the decision to give Bosa a full slate of plays.
“We didn’t feel like there was any time that we wanted to take him off,” Shanahan said. “And he seemed up for the challenge.”
Meanwhile, it seems as if the 49ers have decided that Ferrell is their second-best defensive end. He was on the field for 22 passing plays and responded with a half-sack (he shared with Bosa), a quarterback hit and five total pressures. He also forced a fumble at the San Francisco 4-yard line at a point when the Bengals were threatening to go up 11 points at the half.
- Bosa 9
- Ferrell 5
- Armstead 4
- Hargrave 3
- Gregory 1
- Kinlaw 1
Linebacker: Fred Warner 63, Greenlaw 60, Oren Burks 9, Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles 2
The 49ers had a season-high 13 missed tackles in the game with most occurring in the first half. Greenlaw had three of them. He clearly was missing his usual speed, violence and tone-setting style against Cincinnati. He was slow to get up after a half dozen or so plays, including on the run below by Joe Mixon. Mixon broke through Greenlaw’s hit at the 30-yard line and ended up at the 37.
Perhaps no 49er will benefit more from the bye week than LB Dre Greenlaw, who seemed to be in a lot of discomfort Sunday and who had an uncharacteristic three mistackles, including on this run by Joe Mixon. pic.twitter.com/D6jXrXY6kf
— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) October 30, 2023
Cornerback: Ward 63, Deommodore Lenoir 63, Isaiah Oliver 55
It was an interesting game for Oliver. He was perhaps the team’s best tackler, finishing with a career-high 10 stops, including two behind the line of scrimmage. He nearly had an early interception when he broke off coverage and stepped in front of a quick pass from Joe Burrow, and he recovered Ferrell’s forced fumble in the second quarter.
But he also was in coverage on two of Joe Burrow’s touchdown throws and was badly beaten by Ja’Marr Chase on the second. Burrow was 8-of-8 for 71 yards when targeting Oliver with a 143.2 passer rating.
Safety: Talanoa Hufanga 63, Tashaun Gipson Sr. 63
Hufanga tied Oliver and Warner for a team-high 10 tackles. But he also tied Greenlaw with three missed tackles, according to Pro Football Focus. The 49ers have had 32 missed tackles during their three-game skid. In the three weeks prior, they had nine.
- Greenlaw 3
- Hufanga 3
- Bosa 2
- Armstead 1
- Ferrell 1
- Warner 1
- Oliver 1
- Ward 1
Special teams: George Odum 22, Flannigan-Fowles 22, Woerner 19, Ji’Ayir Brown 16, Mason 16, Dwelley 15, Ambry Thomas 15, Dee Winters 13, Kendall Sheffield 19, McCloud 9, Snead 9, Bell 7, Burks 7, Jake Moody 7, Mitch Wishnowsky 6, Taybor Pepper 6, Gregory 6, Ferrell 6, Kinlaw 6, Givens 6, Jackson 6, Hufanga 6, Warner 6, Ward 6, Lenoir 6, Burford 3, McKivitz 4, Moore 4, Feliciano 3, Nick Zakelj 3, Matt Pryor 3, Oliver 2, Anthony Brown 2
Moody made his only field goal attempt, from 36 yards, and he still has yet to miss a point-after attempt. … The 49ers’ biggest gaffe on special teams came when they allowed the Bengals to return a first-quarter kickoff 41 yards to the Cincinnati 42-yard line. Burrow needed only six plays to get into the end zone from there, making the score 14-7. The Bengals never lost that lead.
(Top photo of Joe Mixon running through a Talanoa Hufanga tackle: Loren Elliott / Getty Images)
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