The 49ers did not get to the start they wanted in 2021, now they are entering their Bye Week with 2-3 and are last in NFC West. While a lot went wrong in San Francisco, there are some reasons to be optimistic about going into the last 12 games.
Here are some of the things the 49ers did well in the first five weeks:
While the red zone rides need to be a bit more frequent, the 49ers did an excellent job turning their red zone rides into touchdowns. They were within the opponent’s 20-yard line 11 times and scored 10 touchdowns on those occasions. The only hiccups came in week 5 when Trey Lance was walled off with a stone wall at the goal line. This is an important trend that you should continue as its offense penetrates more consistently deeper into the drives.
While the 49ers’ defense was not as dominant as it was in 2019, they distinguished themselves in third place when they left the field. They allow opponents to convert only 32.8 percent of their third downs, which is the sixth best rate in the NFL. When they mix more sales with their third down stops, they are in great shape to get back to their 2019 shape.
Deebo Samuel came on a mission in 2021 and the 49ers signed him with 52 goals at team level in just 158 attempts. That means the San Francisco quarterbacks targeted Samuel on 32.9 percent of their throws. George Kittle is second with 17.7 percent after missing week 5. The 49ers have an elite playmaker in Samuel, and they have found creative ways to get him the soccer ball so far. This has to go on in order for San Francisco to get out of its current offensive funk.
Correctly! Punter Mitch Wishnowsky was outstanding and deserves some recognition. His 19 total punts put him in the middle of the field, but he dropped 12 of those punts within the 20 and only two opted for touchbacks. His hangtime of 4.41 seconds ranks sixth in the NFL and only 31.6 percent of his kicks are returned. With the 49ers playing free football on offense and defense again, Wishnowsky’s ability to give long fields to opposing offensives could be a key factor in a playoff run.
While the 49ers’ defense wasn’t perfect, they still did a good job getting teams to deserve touchdowns. A 43-yard touchdown catch on an on-screen pass from Lions RB DeAndre Swift is the longest touchdown San Francisco has allowed this season, with no other score reaching more than 16 yards. The 49ers should give themselves the option to stay in games as long as they can go ahead without long touchdowns.
While the offensive line game of the 49ers got under a small microscope due to a few bad moves. However, according to Pro Football Focus, they occupy eighth place in blocking pass and fifth in blocking run. 22 combined prints allowed by Right Tackle Mike McGlinchey and Right Guard Daniel Brunskill are definitely worrying, but 11 prints are not a disastrous number either. It only stands out for the superb play by Alex Mack in the middle and on the left with Laken Tomlinson and Trent Williams. All in all, the offensive line play was very well mixed with some bad ones. If the bad plays can be filtered out, this has a chance to be a really strong group by the end of the year.