49ers reeling as they get ready to play the Packers
SANTA CLARA, Calif — It’s fitting that the Green Bay Packers are coming to town this week, because San Francisco 49ers fans once again are talking about using the No. 1 pick on a University of California quarterback.
The last time 49ers management didn’t listen they dismissed Cal’s Aaron Rodgers in favor of Utah’s Alex Smith 10 years ago.
So this time, the chatter has begun earlier, because it’s clear — to the fans, anyway — that the 49ers and Jacksonville Jaguars will be battling for the worst record in the NFL this season.
Bring on Cal’s Jared Goff, the fans are declaring. Send Colin Kaepernick the way of Tim Rattay.
First things first, the 49ers have some work to do to earn the No. 1 pick in the draft again. After all, they aren’t even one of the league’s four winless teams three weeks into the season.
It should be noted the 49ers have three of these 0-3 teams — Baltimore, Chicago and Detroit — on their remaining schedule. They don’t get a showdown with the 1-2 Jaguars, however.
Enough, 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula insisted Monday. Despite blowout losses of 43-18 (to the Pittsburgh Steelers) and 47-7 (to the Arizona Cardinals) the last two weeks, this is no “lost cause,” he proclaimed.
“We’re a work in progress,” he said. “I think we’ve all said that here,” Tomsula said in the wake of Sunday’s 40-point loss at Arizona. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. As far as a lost season, no. I disagree wholeheartedly.”
Tomsula assured the task at hand wasn’t scouting Cal’s next game across the bay, but rather preparing for the Packers this week. He wouldn’t guarantee every starter from Sunday’s loss would retain his status.
“The evaluations never stop. And they don’t stop for any of us,” he said. “We’re all being evaluated. That’s just part of what we do.”
One thing that won’t change, Tomsula said, will be the starting quarterback. Kaepernick’s job is safe — for now, anyway — despite a four-interception game in Arizona in which he threw two touchdown passes, both to the Cardinals.
“He’s our starting quarterback,” the coach insisted. “I’ve had no thoughts of him not being our quarterback. I believe in Colin Kaepernick. I think he’s got the tools to be a darn good quarterback in this football league.”
Tomsula was asked if Kaepernick currently is a good quarterback. He hemmed, hawed and then admitted: “No. None of us were very good (Sunday).”
REPORT CARD VS. CARDINALS
–PASSING OFFENSE: F. Colin Kaepernick had statistically the worst game of his career, accumulating a dismal 16.7 passer rating while completing only nine of 19. Actually, he did complete four other passes, but they were to Arizona defenders, two of which took the gifts for touchdowns. Kaepernick was sacked just twice in the game, but heavy pressure contributed to the interceptions.
–RUSHING OFFENSE: D. The 49ers weren’t expected to have much success running against the Arizona defense, and they didn’t. Carlos Hyde was contained for the second consecutive week, limited to 51 yards, and when the 49ers can’t dominate an opponent on the ground, their chances of winning are greatly diminished. Kaepernick did score on a 12-yard run, the team’s only score.
–PASS DEFENSE: D-minus. The hope was that the Cardinals, with top running back Andre Ellington injured, would be forced to pass into a 49ers defense that was expecting it. That’s exactly what happened, yet the 49ers couldn’t do anything about it. For the second week in a row, they couldn’t contain the opponent’s top threat, with Larry Fitzgerald going for 134 yards and two touchdowns on nine catches. An “F” grade was averted with Kenneth Acker’s second-quarter interception.
–RUN DEFENSE: F. DeAngelo Williams one week, Chris Johnson the next. It’s turn-back-the-clock time when an opponent, missing its top back, has to resort to its veteran backup against the 49ers. Johnson torched what was supposed to be a decent 49ers run defense for 110 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries. The Cardinals looked like a balanced offense, which they are not.
–SPECIAL TEAMS: A. The 49ers made the most of their many kick returns, getting 95 yards on four kickoff runbacks from DeAndrew White and a 37-yard punt return from Jarryd Hayne. They outgained the Cardinals 132-38 on returns, and that was despite having just a 5-4 advantage in number of attempts. Punter Bradley Pinion had a third straight strong punting game, belting one 56 yards and three times pinning the Cardinals inside their 20.
–COACHING: F. Tomsula took the blame for one of the worst play calls you will ever see, a running play out of their own end zone with quarterback Colin Kaepernick in Pistol formation. Predictably, the play resulted in a safety — the most embarrassing of many bad 49ers plays in the game. Ever since the 49ers have been taken seriously, following their Week 1 win over Minnesota, they’ve lost by a combined 90-25, the franchise’s worst back-to-back losses in 35 years.