Monday Morning Mailbag: 49ers loss raises questions

Monday Morning Mailbag: 49ers loss raises questions
December 3, 2012, 6:07 pm
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The 49ers' discouraging overtime loss to the St. Louis Rams on Sunday certainly opened the door for a lot of questions.So let's open the 49ers Mailbag to address some of the issues that most concerned followers on Twitter:We saw Kaep still has some growing pains to do. What areas do you see need the most work? (@MattReustle)
The Rams did a good job of putting pressure on him by sending extra pass rushers. The Rams got pressure on Kaepernick and did not give him time to throw. Thus, they took away the deep throws that Kaepernick does so well.Kaepernick needs to improve with his touch on his underneath throws. Also, there was the issue of decision-making. The game-changing turnover was a bad play call, no doubt. But Kaepernick admittedly should not have attempted the pitch to Ted Ginn. But even then, that pitch is something he has executed hundreds of times as a quarterback running the pistol offense at Nevada.He also has to learn the game management portion of the job. His decision to run out of bounds before David Akers' go-ahead field goal with 1:34 remaining was a costly mistake. It stopped the clock. The Rams did not have to use a timeout, and they ended up getting the necessary yardage for the tying field goal at the end of regulation.MAIOCCO: 49ers miscues lead to overtime loss to Rams
At this point why not give James and Jenkins a shot? (@DTNCA)
It is perplexing.I completely understand that first-round draft pick A.J. Jenkins is not better than Michael Crabtree. I completely understand how he might not be better than Mario Manningham or Randy Moss.What I do not understand is how Jenkins can't get on the field ahead of Ted Ginn when the 49ers go with three wideouts. Obviously, the 49ers believe Ginn is a better receiver than Jenkins. And that's a problem.
Jenkins worked in the offseason to increase his strength. Apparently, he is still not ready. It's inexcusable that they have a first-round draft pick who is healthy but he is not even a factor. Even when Manningham went down in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury, Jenkins did not play.As for James, the 49ers believe he is not ready, either. He does not have the full knowledge of the system, especially in blitz pickup. Nor is he strong enough to make a living running between the tackles.But James comes from the Oregon spread, and he's very familiar with those zone-read plays. It seems he could get on the field for five snaps a game as the zone-read running back. He and Kaepernick showed in the exhibition season that they can work well together. Yes, it would be predictable, but the combination of Kaepernick and James would put a great deal of pressure on the defense. And it could pick up the slack for an element that the 49ers are missing now that Kendall Hunter is out for the season.
Is Frank Gore hurt? Did Gore get tired without Hunter there? (@neekoh)
Gore is not injured, but he does take a pounding because he runs so hard. There is no doubt the 49ers lost a great deal with Hunter's absence. Brandon Jacobs takes over as Gore's backup.Three weeks ago in the overtime game against the Rams, Hunter played 11 of the 49ers' 66 snaps (17 percent). On Sunday, Jacobs played eight of 76 snaps (11 percent).Jacobs had just 6 yards rushing on four carries. Gore had 58 yards on 23 attempts. The Rams made it extremely difficult on the 49ers' run game. They stacked the box, and the Rams completely out-schemed the 49ers by outnumbering them at the line of scrimmage.The Rams had a very good game plan against Kaepernick and the 49ers. Expect the upcoming teams on the 49ers' schedule to follow the same blueprint.Is Akers' job safe? (@AlskidJudy)
No.The 49ers have asked the question internally, "Are better options available?" And that's where it gets a little tricky.Last week, the 49ers brought in veterans Nate Kaeding and Billy Cundiff for tryouts. Kaeding is the most accurate kicker in league history. But the 49ers are hesitant to make any move with Kaeding and Cundiff because both kickers have backgrounds that include poor playoff performances. QB uncertainty, loss of Hunter & Williams limiting "O" play-calling and lack of clutch kicker. Do you foresee missing playoffs? (@MonteleoneJohn)
No.At 8-3-1, the 49ers are an overwhelming favorite to win a spot in the NFC playoffs. And with a 1 12-game lead over the Seattle Seahawks, the 49ers are still the team most likely to win the West.But there are two very difficult road games remaining in the regular season. The 49ers travel to New England and Seattle, and those are games the 49ers can easily lose. The other two games -- at Candlestick against Miami and Arizona -- should be victories.If you're a 49ers fan, there's no need to panic. But you'd be well within your rights to be a little concerned at this point.