It is hard to digest. The 49ers are 2-3 heading to the bye week as I predicted. I wish Kyle Shanahan would get it right and prove me wrong.
Trey Lance needs to be the starting QB for the remainder of the season.
Lance did scare me at times. He tried to do too much with his legs, at times taking hits. Overall, Lance had a game that we all expected, an encouraging outing with many areas to improve. He did throw an interception early on but did not commit the same mistake again. Throughout the game, the offense led by Lance was able to move the ball without turning it to points. But you need to understand that Lance allowed the defense to have breathing space with those drives.
Apart from the drive after Dontae Johnson forced a fumble, the offense always made sure not to return without a first down. With the season almost down the drain, it is the best opportunity to use it for the development of Lance.
Trey Lance is not responsible for the defeat.
After the game, Kyle Shanahan indicated that nothing has changed on who should be the starting quarterback. There are already brewing theories that Garoppolo would have won this game. That is simply wrong.
Garoppolo should be more responsible than Lance if the quarterback is to blame. Garoppolo's inability to stay healthy forced Lance to start this game. Shanahan refused to treat Lance as the 3rd overall pick during the off-season and then in the regular season. The rookie started against the best team in the NFL and almost came away with the victory. He kept the defense fresh enough to compete against an explosive offense. Do not fool yourselves into thinking that Garoppolo would have won this game.
The only difference Garoppolo would have made is that making the winning margin bigger for the Cardinals.
The offensive line needs significant changes.
For my weekly article, Mike McGlinchey is an automatic choice for the ugly section. It seems like I can copy-paste the same thing moving forward. The 49ers took a chance with McGlinchey, but it needs to end this year. McGlinchey gave away holding penalties in critical situations. JJ Watt toyed with McGlinchey on several occasions and beat him with minimum effort. Trent Williams surprisingly gave away two holding penalties as well. Alex Mack still contributes his fair share to the offensive line woes. If Trey Lance is to try the deep shots, the offensive line needs to give him more time.
The 49ers need to invest in cornerbacks.
The pass interference penalties and Josh Norman are best friends. Hopkins caught the pass, which did not make any difference from the pass interference penalty. Apart from the PI penalty, Norman committed a holding penalty as well. The 49ers do need to invest in proper cornerbacks during the next off-season. They do not have 1st round picks to help the cause, but clearing out Garoppolo's contract money must be used to overcome the deficiencies.
The secondary was not a significant worry in this loss. Still, improvement in this department can complete this defense.
Is the season already lost?
The 49ers are sitting at the bottom in the division where the team could have been 5-0. It is a team with potential, limitations, and bad luck. There are 12 games to play with four divisional matchups. The defense can hold the fort if the offense can find a way to fire the cannons. The bye week could not have come at any better time than this. The team can go back to the drawing board and figure out the offensive formula to start with a win against Colts at home.
Whether this team can make it to the playoffs is highly doubtful. Keeping Lance as the starter helps this team compete next year if things do not go as planned.