For already the second time this season, the San Francisco 49ers were held to 10 points in a game and lost.
This time, though, their Week 3 defeat against the Denver Broncos 11-10 came with some perplexing moments that led to vehement conversations across the internet — from Jimmy Garoppolo and his Dan Orlovsky moment (which sparked reactions from the ESPN NFL analyst himself), to the inconsistency on third downs all the way to star members of the 49ers not breaking out against the Denver defense.
Big emphasis on the latter for this one.
One insider around the 49ers brought up this “yikes” detail from the one-point loss that will surely get 49er fans wondering how the heck did this happen.
Star Trio Performance Under Scrutiny
Nick Wagoner, 49ers insider for ESPN, dove back to the game for this stunning analysis he unveiled on the morning of Monday, September 26.
This one involved three integral and explosive members of the 49er offense which included a “yikes” from Wagoner himself.
“In the first half Sunday night, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle combined for 15 touches for 141 yards and a touchdown,” Wagoner began tweeting.
But then came this telling detail.
“In second half: 2 touches for 5 yards,” Wagoner shared. “Analysis: Yikes.”
That’s right, the All-Pro duo and the fast riser Aiyuk were shunned in the second half. And in the end, only Samuel had five catches the whole night: Five grabs for 73 yards. Aiyuk was the lone one out of the three who scored, which was on this in-breaker route near the goal line:
Kittle, meanwhile, only averaged seven yards a catch in his return and was bottled to four catches for 28 yards.
Now comes this: What exactly happened? Was it what the Broncos did? Or was it play-calling? Or other?
Further Dive Into Lack of Involvement
The second half was when the offense really sputtered for the 49ers in the Colorado altitude.
It began during their first possession when Garoppolo fumbled the football at midfield, stalling that drive. That miscue was on the 49ers’ fourth play of the second half.
But then came the most widely-discussed play from that game — Garoppolo’s safety.
But it was Kyle Shanahan who took the blame for that blunder. Perhaps it’s for this reason: The play looked like a run was coming with the 49ers operating in 13 personnel (one running back, three tight ends) and needing to get out of their own 3-yard line while only still facing second down. Garoppolo takes two many steps back after two rushers come free. In that scenario, most analysts and fans believe the 49ers would go with a simple run to try to ease their way away from their goal line.
From there, Garoppolo under threw Aiyuk on a third and 18 scenario. And it was Kittle who caught a pass the rest of the evening — on a 5-yarder. But was Denver doing anything spectacular to slow down the trio?
If anything, it was the pressure up the gut that gives away why the triplets were shunned most of the final half. According to Pro Football Focus, Denver delivered 10 quarterback pressures to get in Garoppolo’s face with outside linebacker Randy Gregory leading the way with four. The end results were three quarterback hits and three sacks of Jimmy G. Gregory’s sacks also came when All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams walked off the field with his ankle sprain. However, the interior line which features a new lineup got tested — and struggled as Marc Adams of 49ers Web Zone pointed out.
“The 49ers still have problems with pass rushers in the middle of the offensive line. There is still too much pressure up the gut, and too many batted balls at the line of scrimmage,” was one excerpt Adams wrote.
Regardless, Shanahan and the 49ers find themselves in a situation where it’s likely back to the drawing board — and trying to recreate some explosion with three stars who had their “yikes” statistic.