On his Monday, October 11, appearance on KNBR 680’s “Papa and Lund” show with Greg Papa and John Lund, the NBC Bay Area analyst dove into the team’s inconsistency on offense in the early part of 2021, explaining how shocked he is at seeing the production decline from his final season with the team in 2019.
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“What’s been shocking to me is that one of the things, too, has been that stretch zone, but all the play-action roll-outs, that was one of our identities, the keep game,” Staley said. “And it hasn’t been there at all. And it’s almost like they’re trying to find and involve that new identity.
“When we, in 2019, had that great offensive year, obviously it was predicated on our run game and everything that came off of that, but it was also the play design and getting out of the pocket, and stretching and how the plays built on each other.”
49ers Offensive Woes
Offensively, the 49ers are averaging 368.2 yards per game, placing them at 15th overall.
However, the air attack has struggled the most with racking up just 246.2 yards per game — making the ‘Niners the worst passing offense among NFC West teams.
Granted, injuries behind center hasn’t helped as Jimmy Garoppolo (calf) and now Trey Lance (knee) dealing with injuries, the latter suffering a knee sprain from his first NFL start on Sunday, October 10, at Arizona.
Lance, though, did leave 49er fans encouraged, including putting together the kind of numbers that resembled the NFL regular season debut of Russell Wilson.
Both quarterbacks, however, are also playing behind an offensive line that’s surrendered nine sacks during their 2-3 start. Garoppolo has been brought to the grass the most at six sacks while the first-rounder Lance was sacked three times in the last two weeks against the Seattle Seahawks and Cardinals.
The ground attack hasn’t broken off many big gains either. According to ESPN, San Francisco has only produced two runs that surpassed 20 yards or more: A 21-yarder from JaMycal Hasty and a 38-yard scamper through the legs of Elijah Mitchell. That’s two long runs through 144 running plays. The ground attack is averaging just 122.0 yards per game.
Then, there are the turnovers. The 49ers are entering their bye week with a -5 turnover differential — making them the third-worst team at protecting the football behind the Kansas City Chiefs (-7) and Jacksonville Jaguars (-10).
Consistency Is Missing, Staley Says
The 37-year-old Staley, who played on the last 49ers’ Super Bowl team of 2020, summed up why this offensive unit has been slow to gain explosiveness from his eyes.
“Right now we’re not finding that consistency in either the run or the pass game,” Staley pointed out to the radio hosts. “So it looks a little bit disjointed right now, and it’s like individual plays are not really building upon each other.”
Does this mean that the offense is under an identity crisis through the six-time Pro Bowler’s perspective?
“I think through the first five weeks of the season, this team, especially the offense, is really still searching for an identity of what they can always lean on,” Staley explained.