Week 1 Take-Aways: A Game of Missed Opportunites

There’s no way to sugar-coat a 23-3 defeat on opening day as the San Francisco 49ers lost to the Carolina Panthers in convincing fashion.

There were mental errors, problems executing, and just some bad play. Now, all of those elements will be covered, but the biggest reason the 49ers lost today was due to several missed opportunities.

1) Zane Beadles and the pass protection

The 49ers’ offensive line looked good early, but ended up giving up four sacks and one of them was a critical fumble after Brian Hoyer was drilled by defensive end Wes Horton, due to a missed block by guard Zane Beadles. The result was a recovery by Carolina and a short time later, a 40 yard touchdown pass to Russell Shepard.

Beadles did not do well in pass coverage as he gave up two sacks in the first half.

2) Marquise Goodwin’s drop on the opening drive

This cannot be overstated: Goodwin’s drop was HUGE. On third and two from the Panthers’ 46 yard line, Goodwin beat his man and Hoyer put the ball perfectly over the defender and into the beautifully stitched number 11. Dropped.

If Goodwin comes down with that, the 49ers could have gotten on the board early and we’ll never know just how much that could have affected the game.

Instead, it will end up being a forgotten play in a loss.

3) Mental Mistakes

Starting safety Jaquiski Tartt had two bad plays – an unforgivable missed tackle that resulted in Carolina’s first touchdown and then a careless unnecessary roughness penalty on third down that could have gotten the 49ers off the field.

The offensive line had numerous illegal formation and holding calls, Ray-Ray Armstrong had a pass interference and a facemask call that extended drives, and Brian Hoyer threw an interception to start the third quarter, which put the Niners in a very difficult hole.

The mental mistakes have to get cleaned up if the 49ers are going to begin building confidence throughout the season.

4) Unable to convert 4th down on three tries

Do not fall prey to what may look like the easy way out in explaining these play calls. All three were the right call, given the situation. Unfortunately, when going for it doesn’t work, the coach looks bad, while at the same turn, if they convert, he looks like a genius.

One of them resulted in a sack, one was a good defensive stuff on a run play and the other, the goal line play to Hyde, was missed due to cornerback James Bradberry beating Pierre Garcon at the line of scrimmage and a poor throw to Hyde.

It was good that the 49ers went for it, but when they didn’t convert, it seemed to give the Panthers a lot of confidence.

Extra Points

  • The 49ers may have dodged a bullet on the Reuben Foster injury. X-rays came up negative and he said after the game that he “would be back very, very soon.” While we don’t know if he’ll play next week, it appears he avoided major injury
  • Carlos Hyde ran well overall. He finished with nine carries for 45 yards, but didn’t get a lot more touches on the ground due to the deficit.
  • Rashard Robinson had a nice fumble recovery
  • Overall, the defense didn’t get torched, but also weren’t able to make a lot of critical stops
  • Pierre Garcon looks like the reliable receiver that he was brought in to be, finishing with six catches for 81 yards
  • While Tartt made some mental errors, he also had a gorgeous one-handed interception that kept Carolina from scoring in the first half.
  • The 49ers’ defense had zero sacks.

Next week, San Francisco travels to take on the Seattle Seahawks, who also lost today. They had trouble with Carolina’s defense and now they’re going to have to play a near-perfect game to even be in the game next week. Anything can happen, but the 49ers will have to play infinitely better next week if they want to steal this game.

Hopefully, they can play better and at least make it a game.

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