Losing three games in a row is surely draining for the 49ers.
That feeling amplifies when you consider how close the 49ers were in all three games.
Nevertheless, a loss is a loss and they all cut deep. Luckily, the 49ers are getting a much needed Bye Week to simmer down and reset a bit.
Before that happens, there are some things to discuss from Week 5. Here are three things learned from the 49ers 17-10 loss to the Cardinals.
DeMeco Ryans is panning out so far
One of the few bright spots in the loss to the Cardinals was the performance of the 49ers defense. Holding Kyler Murray and their loaded offense to 17 points, along with locking up Murray as a runner, was impressive. It is a testament to how DeMeco Ryans is panning out so far. Against the Packers, I had a questionable viewpoint of Ryans from an in-game adjustment standpoint. But Ryans has answered the call. The defense is the least of the 49ers' worries.
Sure, cornerback is still suspect and there will likely be growing pains moments with Ryans again. But where the defense is at right now, you can't help but feel satisfied. Ryans, surprisingly, has been the better coordinator than Kyle Shanahan thus far. They are doing their part. It is the offense of the 49ers that is not helping them out. If they can score points and sustain longer drives consistently, it would be a huge help to them. So far, the defense is anchoring the team and Ryans is largely responsible for it. It is just a matter of keeping it up as the season progresses.
Trey Lance is the best option going forward
Trey Lance did not have a particularly good game. He was okay. He looked like a rookie that needs a ton of work, but the only way that happens is if he plays. Of all the things I took away from Lance's performance, it is that at no point in the game did I believe the 49ers would be in better shape with Jimmy Garoppolo. Could you imagine how worse off the offense would have been with that constant pass rush? If it wasn't for Lance's mobility, the Cardinals are putting up at least five sacks.
Lance is the best option going forward. It is time. Enough putting off developing the largest investment in 49ers history. Let Lance play. Let him learn, adapt, and adjust. Even with him still raw in a lot of areas, the offense didn't lose a step. If anything, they gained one by Lance being able to run with the ball and escape pressure. Lance is the best hope for the 49ers' offense. Shanahan has his unit trying to look left and right at the same time. He has two different styles of offense with Lance and Garoppolo, so it is no wonder the players look out of sorts. Start Lance against the Colts and never look back. Garoppolo has not looked good this season outside of Detroit Week 1. It is time for the Trey Lance era to begin.
Kyle Shanahan is the major flaw to the 49ers' losing skid
So many questions and concerns regarding the 49ers dating as far back as free agency in March related to the players. Cornerback was bleak, offensive line was a toss up, and wide receiver depth was scarce. The 49ers still have some of these issues plaguing the team, but none have nearly the same impact of hurting the team as Kyle Shanahan. Shanahan is the major flaw to the 49ers' losing skid. Let's be real about it. This losing skid has Shanahan's fingerprints all over it. It starts with his handling of the quarterbacks, or mishandling in this case. He has zero clue what he is doing. That is why my previous point was advocating to start Lance going forward so the 49ers can finally have an identity on offense.
Once you get past the quarterback mismanagement, his play calling should come into question. It is like he has ZERO feel for calling plays. There isn't a rhythm to his play calling, which is largely why sustaining long drives consistently is difficult for the 49ers. Even with a different quarterback against the Cardinals, the offense still failed to put up points despite putting up yards. All those yards are great and all, but it is a moot point if you cannot score. No one cares how many yards you get if you cannot accomplish the main goal of the games, which is to score points and win. Shanahan needs this Bye Week more than any player. He needs to look himself in the mirror and realize that he is playing a huge role in this downward slope the 49ers are on.
But he can salvage it. Start Lance the rest of the way, commit to ONE playstyle on offense to limit confusion, and stop limiting talented players such as Brandon Aiyuk. Shanahan's personnel decisions are arguably half the reason the team looks as it does because of his infatuation with veterans. Why is Josh Norman playing over Deommodore Lenoir who has looked solid? It makes no sense. The 49ers will not be successful so long as Shanahan does not get over himself. And I am not holding my breath that Shanahan will change anything up either.