49ers

Instant Analysis: Shanahan era starts ugly for 49ers in loss to Panthers

Instant Analysis: Shanahan era starts ugly for 49ers in loss to Panthers

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SANTA CLARA – The area of quarterback Brian Hoyer’s game that provided the 49ers with their most-pleasant surprise during training camp was his ability to throw the deep ball.

And it did not take long for everyone to see him loft a well-thrown deep down the field. On the 49ers’ first possession, speedster Marquise Goodwin ran under the pass for what looked the kind of big play that is a function of Kyle Shanahan’s offense.

But Goodwin dropped the ball. It was just the first of many glaring mistakes and miscalculations for the 49ers in Shanahan’s regular-season debut – a 23-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium.

Shanahan brings a proven offensive system with him to the 49ers after fielding top-10 units in six of his nine years as an NFL offensive coordinator. But in his first game as coach, it was apparent just how much work is in front of Shanahan and general manager John Lynch.

The 49ers opened the season with 30 newcomers on their 53-man roster. But during Week 1, there was no erasing the memory of last year’s 2-14 team in Chip Kelly’s one-and-only season with the club.

Goodwin dropped the deep ball. And one play after dynamic rookie linebacker Reuben Foster was sidelined with a right ankle injury, free safety Jaquiski Tartt gave up a deep pass, then failed to make the tackle on Russell Shepard en route to a 40-yard touchdown pass from Cam Newton.

Hoyer was sacked four times in the first half, including a sack-strip that left guard Zane Beadles surrendered that led to the Panthers’ first touchdown of the game. Hoyer gave the Panthers a gift early in the third quarter with an interception to Luke Kuechly. Carolina turned that into a touchdown for a 20-0 lead.

The 49ers were penalized 10 times for 74 yards in the first half, including two illegal-formation flags. There were dropped passes, missed tackles and no semblance of a pass rush from defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s unit.

Shanahan miscalculated twice in the second quarter, twice turning the ball over on downs near midfield. The Panthers capitalized on both situations with field goals, including Graham Gano’s 36-yarder on the final play of the first half.

Hoyer completed 24 of 35 passes for 193 yards with no touchdowns and one interception in his 49ers debut. Hoyer has played for seven teams throughout his nine-year career.

FOSTER SIDELINED
Foster went down in the first half with a right ankle injury while tackling rookie running back Christian McCaffrey. Foster was taken off the field in a cart for further observation in the 49ers’ locker room. While Foster did not return to action, he did return to the 49ers under his own power to spend the rest of the first half on the team’s sideline. He watched the second half on the sideline without cleats or pads.

THIS ‘N’ THAT
--Tartt made the start at free safety in place of Jimmie Ward, who has yet to make it through a full practice after sustaining a hamstring injury during the team’s conditioning test on the eve of training camp.

Tartt had a rough game but did supply a highlight reel play with a one-handed interception of a deep Newton pass in the first half. After giving up the long touchdown pass to Shepard, Tartt was also called for unnecessary roughness penalty against tight end Greg Olsen after a pass Newton badly overthrew.

--Rookie George Kittle started at tight end and caught five passes for 27 yards.

--Slot receiver Trent Taylor caught one pass for 8 yards and handled the punt return chores in his NFL debut. He had one return for 9 yards and a fair catch.

--Cornerback Rashard Robinson forced and recovered a fumble against Christian McCaffrey in the fourth quarter but the 49ers were unable to capitalize. The offense ended up turning it over on downs for the third time in the game.

--Running back Carlos Hyde gained 45 yards on nine rushing attempts. He also caught six passes for 32 yards.

--The 49ers honored former fullback and assistant coach Tom Rathman at halftime. Rathman was officially inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame during a ceremony Saturday night at Levi’s Stadium.

Garcia: Rookie QB Beathard not the key to turning around 49ers' offense

Garcia: Rookie QB Beathard not the key to turning around 49ers' offense

The most popular player among every fan base of a struggling offensive team is the backup quarterback.

And while there might be a small percentage of 49ers fans who are clamoring for rookie C.J. Beathard to trot off the sideline to replace Brian Hoyer, that does not seem to be a realistic option at this point.

Hoyer has experienced some success during his journeyman career. And he was 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan’s top choice to join him as his anointed quarterback after spending the 2014 season together with the Cleveland Browns. Hoyer entered the regular season as the unquestioned starter and someone who earned the confidence of his teammates through the entire offseason.

But there is no getting around the facts:

--The 49ers did not score a touchdown in their first two games for the first time in franchise history;
--The 49ers have converted just four of 23 (17.4 percent) of their third-down opportunities.
--Hoyer has thrown for just 292 yards in two games with no touchdowns and two interceptions. His passer rating is an abysmal 60.7.

“I have to play a whole lot better,” Hoyer said following the 49ers’ 12-9 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. “I’m disappointed with myself.”

Former 49ers quarterback Jeff Garcia, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, said on “The 49ers Insider Podcast” the 49ers’ offense has a much better chance to improve with Hoyer – and not the rookie.

“It comes back to your quarterback and decision-making and accuracy,” said Garcia, an analyst on NBC Sports Bay Area's 49ers pre- and post-game coverage. “And if you’re not able to establish that, then you better get back to what you have within your team and what’s going to give you a better option. But right now Brian is the best option.

“I don’t think it’s a time where they go with C.J. Beathard. It’s not that time. Brian is the guy that has to battle through these inconsistencies. His play has to step up to another level.”

Former 49er Derrick Deese explains cause for poor O-line play

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AP

Former 49er Derrick Deese explains cause for poor O-line play

Seemingly every NFL team has issues on its offensive line, and that is not a surprise to former longtime 49ers player Derrick Deese.

Deese started 116 games during his career with the 49ers through the 2003 season. He was a highly versatile offensive lineman under legendary coach Bobb McKittrick. Deese played every position on the offensive line, starting at right guard in Super Bowl XXIX before playing the majority of his career at left tackle. He said the changes after the NFL's collective bargaining agreement in 2011 have made it more difficult on offensive linemen to prepare for their jobs.

While some have pointed to the proliferation of spread offenses in college that do not properly train offensive linemen for the next level, Deese pointed to the hours of padded practices lost on the practice field as the biggest reason for the struggling play of offensive lines around the NFL.

“I think when you come down to practice, offensive line needs more practice time than a defensive lineman does because there’s so much stuff to learn – so many more variables we have to understand,” Deese said on “The 49ers Insider Podcast.”

“For one defense, sometimes there might be three different ways to block that play. So when you start cutting down practice schedules and say you only have this amount of time per week, and this amount of time per day, it’s hard to get all of that in. It’s hard to get all the reps you actually need to be successful. When they cut that down, something’s going to suffer and you see what suffers.”

After the newest CBA was ratified in 2011, teams are no longer allowed to hold two padded practices per day in training camp. The NFL also placed limits on the number of full-contact padded practices during the regular season. Teams are permitted only 14 padded practices for the season with a maximum of one per week.

Deese, 47, understands why the NFL has taken steps to reduce contact – and risk of injury – in practices. Deese said he has undergone 17 football-related surgeries and is putting off three more surgeries – two on his shoulders and one on his elbow.

“I deal with that. I understand that,” Deese said. “It was a decision I made to play the game. If you asked a lot of guys who played the game if they would do it again, I’m willing to say, probably, 95 percent of them say ‘I’d do it again.’”

As a parent, he said he has not allowed his children to play tackle football until the eighth grade, but he has not dissuaded his children from playing in high school and beyond. His eldest son, Derrick, is a wide receiver at Golden West Community College in Huntington Beach.

“I’ve talked to people that have kids and they tell their kids, ‘I don’t want you to play football.’ I know guys who have kids in high school who will not let their kids play football at all,” Deese said.

“To me, as a parent, especially one who was successful in the game, you don’t (prevent) your son an opportunity to play the game. Right now, with what they’ve done with football, I think it’s the safest time to allow kids to play the game. They’re teaching the game a whole different way. They’ve made the game a lot safer.”