The 49ers have been a shell of themselves over the last two weeks, losing by a combined score of 56-10. The offense has looked lost, the defense is banged up and San Francisco has dropped back to back games for the first time under Jim Harbaugh. The team looks to right the ship in Week 4 as they travel to St. Louis to take on the Rams. Will the 49ers get back on track or are there bigger issues that need to be fixed first?
Colin Kaepernick has looked indecisive and shaken the past two weeks. He appears to be breaking the pocket too soon and not scanning the field effectively after his first read. That could be a product of his receivers not being able to get separation or just a lack of trust in his options. Either way, he has to start making plays in the passing game for the 49ers to have any success this year.
Kaepernick’s numbers in Week’s 2 and 3 have been terrible and it’s translated to the offense only putting up 10 points in the last eight quarters. He has a completion percentage of 47 percent (26 out of 55) and has turned the ball over six times. Look for the 49ers to attempt some high percentage throws early on to try and get Kaepernick in rhythm and boost his confidence.
Williams, Moore, and Patton
The 49ers’ number 2, 3, and 4, wide receivers have combined for 10 catches all season. To put that in perspective, there are 20 tight ends 12 running backs in the league who have as many or more receptions. With Vernon Davis questionable and battling a hamstring injury, one of Kyle Williams, Marlon Moore and Quinton Patton have to step up and find a way to make plays. Similar to Kaepernick, a couple of easy catches early on may be able to jump start one or more of them.
Backups playing a big role
With no Aldon Smith and Patrick Willis unlikely to go, the 49ers are turning to the unknown. Dan Skuta and Corey Lemonier will both see action at outside linebacker in place of Smith. Skuta has mostly played special teams throughout his career and is playing a new position as he was primarily an inside linebacker before coming to San Francisco this season. Lemonier has shown promise as a pass rusher and was impressive in the preseason but it’s unknown if he can perform at that same level in the regular season.
In place of Willis, Michael Wilhoite will get the start. Wilhoite, who was originally signed by the 49ers as an undrafted free agent, has never started a game in the NFL. It’s unrealistic to think he can come close to replacing Willis, who is a six time pro bowler and arguably the best linebacker in football, but there are no other options for the team at this point.
What it all means
With the Seahawks off to a fast start, the 49ers can’t afford to lose this game or they could find themselves in a bad position within the division. A 1-3 start would not end their season by any means, but it would put them in a hole they’d rather not be in. After a Week 5 game against the Houston Texans, the 49ers’ schedule does get softer but the way the team has played recently their is no guarantee that any contest will be easy. This game is a big measuring stick for the so far disappointing NFC champions.