After a solid showing in Week 2 versus the Seattle Seahawks, the San Francisco 49ers looked downright awful with offense on Sunday against the Denver Broncos.
Their defense kept them in the game for most of the evening, but they had lots of trouble moving the chains and scoring points, leading to an 11-10 loss.
As was the case in Week 1 when they were defeated by the Chicago Bears, the 49ers made a number of brainless mistakes, such as a safety that occurred when quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, positioned in his own end zone, dropped back out of bounds, giving Denver a free two points.
San Francisco has already been dealing with some key injuries, but another one occurred on Sunday that could put their season in jeopardy.
Trent Williams, one of the best left tackles in the NFL, sustained an ankle injury that is expected to keep him out for possibly four to six weeks.
#49ers All-Pro LT Trent Williams has a high-ankle sprain, coach Kyle Shanahan said. No surgery, but those usually require a month of rehab at least.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 26, 2022
It’s a big blow for the team, as the injuries are starting to pile up.
With a 1-2 record and a Monday night game next week against the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams coming up, there could be a real chance the 49ers don’t even reach the playoffs this season.
The Offensive Line Will Have Its Work Cut Out For It
Its offensive line problems may have been a factor in Trey Lance‘s season-ending ankle injury last season, although many are blaming head coach Kyle Shanahan’s play-calling.
Offensive linemen are like a QB’s personal bodyguards, and a line that is lacking could easily allow poor QB play or even injuries to a team’s signal-caller.
Garoppolo didn’t play too badly in the first half, but things got worse after Williams suffered his injury in the third quarter.
He threw an interception on an ill-advised pass attempt to Deebo Samuel with just over two minutes left in the contest that just about sealed a loss for the 49ers, and he got sacked four times in total on the night.
Williams’ ankle sprain wasn’t the only new injury they’re dealing with, as linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair sprained his MCL and is expected to be out for eight weeks.
— NFL Rumors (@nflrums) September 26, 2022
His injury is similar to the one running back Elijah Mitchell sustained in Week 1, and the team has already struggled to make up for Mitchell’s production since he’s been out.
Shanahan has some depth in the backfield between Jeff Wilson Jr. and Samuel, who sometimes masquerades as a running back, but that depth has been hit hard, as Tyrion Davis-Price is also out with an ankle injury.
The One Glimmer Of Hope
The NFC West is not an especially deep division, and as of now, the Niners, Arizona Cardinals, and Seattle Seahawks are all tied for last place with a 1-2 record.
Meanwhile, the Rams are just 2-1 after getting destroyed in Week 1 by the Buffalo Bills.
It’s early enough in the season, and San Francisco has been successful recently against the Rams, having defeated them twice last year in the regular season despite being under adverse conditions.
49ers beat Rams twice last season, once coming off an ugly loss to AZ, once playing 2 backup tackles.
That context obviously relevant now.
Garoppolo's avg time to throw was 2.3s (fastest in NFL) and 2.4s (#3), respectively. SF might need to quicken back up to that. 2.6s at DEN
— David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself) September 26, 2022
But now Los Angeles has the swag that comes with being the world champs, so Week 4 at Levi’s Stadium could be different from both 2021 contests between these two teams.