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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: 5 Takeaways from Week 9

Its strange how well the 49ers fought against Cardinals when they had  healthy starters. The backup quarterback humiliated the 49ers publicly.

I got my prediction wrong again with the 49ers stumbling to a 31-17 loss in the hands of backup quarterback Colt McCoy.

What was less resilient? The 49er run defense or the Spillway of Lake Oroville?

In February 2017, Oroville Dam's main and emergency spillways got damaged due to rainstorms forcing 180,000 people to evacuate. The calculated cost for repairing the spillways is around $1.1 billion. The 49ers run defense faltered much faster than the spillways, leaving flood gates open in the Levi's Stadium. The expectation was that the 49ers would run the ball at every given opportunity to leave the Cardinals looking for answers before the game. Things turned upside down with the 49ers continuously struggling to stop the Cardinals rushing attack.

Javon Kinlaw will miss the season due to injury, so the 49ers have limited options to improve their run defense. The next game against the Rams could get ugly.

Wide receivers and dropped passes

During the preseason, Trey Lance was a victim of his wide receivers dropping passes. Back then, the argument was that Lance was throwing the ball too hard without a perfect spiral. That argument is out of the window now as receivers are dropping balls thrown by Jimmy Garoppolo at crucial moments. The throws by Garoppolo have the better spiral and less velocity.

The 49ers are struggling with many basic skills this season, and this is one of the key factors contributing to stalled drives by the offense. At the same time, Garoppolo does not help the cause either with high throws over the receivers.

Maybe the 49ers should look into drafting wide receivers with the height of Yao Ming. A receiver who is 7′ 6″ would help Garoppolo when his throws sail high.

Josh Norman always makes it to the news.

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Josh Norman has a remarkable ability to make it to the spotlight every week. It started with pass interference penalties. Even last week, he committed a holding penalty. His verbal altercation with Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury cost the 49ers a 15-yard taunting penalty, resulting in a 1st down for Arizona.

As a veteran in the game, Norman should lead by example for a team struggling to find ways to win. Instead, his behavior made a mockery of an already messed-up day.

Time to play the rookies

It is understandable why the 49ers hesitate to play Lance. They believe that there is still a chance to make the playoffs as the possible 7th seed. If that is the No. 1 goal, we can trust the organization to stick with Garoppolo. But it does not mean that other rookies who were drafted should stay on the bench as well.

Since the cornerback department is already depleted, the 49ers should start Deommodore Lenoir and Ambry Thomas. The most puzzling part of the equation is the decision not to play Trey Sermon.

Is it all Kyle Shanahan's fault?

Right now, Shanahan is heavily criticized, which he deserves. While a lot of blame should fall on him, the players that he trusts fail him continuously. Garoppolo is missing open receivers when Shanahan schemes up plays in addition to missing them with high throws.

The two fumbles by George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk add too much salt to the 49ers' wounds, which stalled good offensive drives. Fred Warner is not back to his usual self as expected at the beginning of the season.

With the season already heading down the drain, Shanahan can use it to rebuild the team for next season.

If he does that, public opinion might sway in his direction.