Monday Morning Mailbag: 49ers loss raises questions

955181.jpg

Monday Morning Mailbag: 49ers loss raises questions

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.

Former 49ers head coach Tomsula named Washington's D-line coach

Former 49ers head coach Tomsula named Washington's D-line coach

ASHBURN, Va. — Washington turned to internal candidates to fill two critical vacancies, promoting Matt Cavanaugh to offensive coordinator and Greg Manusky to defensive coordinator.

Cavanaugh was the team's quarterbacks coach and Manusky its outside linebackers coach last season. Washington announced the promotions Monday along with the hires of Kevin O'Connell as quarterbacks coach and Jim Tomsula as defensive line coach.

It has been an offseason of upheaval for the coaching staff after Washington fired defensive coordinator Joe Barry and a few assistants and offensive coordinator Sean McVay left to become head coach of the Los Angeles Rams.

In its efforts to replace Barry after ranking 28th defensively in consecutive seasons, Washington interviewed former Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley, former Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine and former Buffalo Bills assistant Rob Ryan before opting for Manusky. The 50-year-old Manusky has been defensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers and 49ers and worked with Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan in San Francisco.

Known for his fiery personality and booming voice on the practice fields, Manusky had only been on coach Jay Gruden's staff for one season as outside linebackers coach. Middle linebacker Will Compton tweeted: "Congrats to Coach Manusky!" when players were informed of his promotion.

Cavanaugh was Washington's quarterbacks coach for the past two years as Kirk Cousins twice set the franchise record for passing yards in a season. Cousins' status for 2017 remains in doubt after playing last season on the franchise tag, but with McVay gone he'll have a familiar face as his offensive coordinator.

After 13 NFL seasons as a backup quarterback, the 60-year-old Cavanaugh was offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears from 1997-98 and Baltimore Ravens from 1999-2004. O'Connell, Washington's new quarterbacks coach, was an assistant in San Francisco under Chip Kelly last season.

Tomsula, who replaces Robb Akey as defensive line coach, also most recently worked with the 49ers as their head coach in 2015.

Falcons coach Quinn: Kyle Shanahan 'totally nailed that' vs Packers

Falcons coach Quinn: Kyle Shanahan 'totally nailed that' vs Packers

The Atlanta Falcons have provided the 49ers with a window from Friday afternoon through Saturday to meet with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, a source told CSNBayArea.com.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn has structured a normal work week to begin preparations to face the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 51, Quinn said at a press conference on Monday. The Falcons will have a day off on Saturday before the team travels to Houston on Sunday.

The 49ers are not allowed to officially hire Shanahan until after the Super Bowl on Feb. 5.

Shanahan is the presumptive 49ers coach -- the only candidate remaining among the six whom 49ers executives Jed York and Paraag Marathe interviewed. Shanahan's offense rolled up 493 total yards and converted 10 of 13 (77 percent) third-down opportunities en route to a 44-21 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday in the NFC Championship game.

“I’m really proud of him,” said Quinn, who was hired by the Falcons two years ago after he served as Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator in Super Bowl 49.

“It’s not easy to do when there’s a lot of speculation and things going on outside your world to stay dialed in. I think it’s one that should be commended. Being on point and going for it, he totally nailed that.”

Shanahan is also expected to be heavily involved in the 49ers’ search for a general manager. The two remaining candidates among the nine who previously interviewed are Minnesota assistant general manager George Paton and Arizona vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough.

The 49ers have left open the possibility of adding more GM candidates to the list, according to a source.