The definition of consistency is “conformity in the application of something, typically that which is necessary for the sake of logic, accuracy, or fairness.” In football, consistency would refer to the ability to sustain a high, or relatively decent, level of play for four quarters. For the San Francisco 49ers, the only thing they have been consistent on in the last six games is how inconsistently they play.
There has been a pattern with this team since week two. The now 1-6 49ers start games looking competent and in sync and executing plays, and then, usually by the middle of the second quarter, it all falls apart. In the last few weeks, another pattern is something goes wrong early, and the team crumbles.
The day started well. The 49ers came out strong offensively, putting together a solid drive that resulted in running back Mike Davis’s first NFL career touchdown. The Niners’ second touchdown came on a pretty impressive pass from Colin Kaepernick to running back Shaun Draughn. And then…then it all went terribly wrong again.
“We’re not doing what we need to do to be successful on Sundays right now,” said head coach Chip Kelly. “Come out to start the second half, and the defense gets a three-and-out. We’re moving in the right direction and then we fumble the punt. Then our first series offensively in the third quarter we have a sack fumble. We’re turning the football over too many times to be successful right now.”
You know what else makes it hard to win games in the NFL? Your defense giving up 513 yards of offense, and having absolutely no run defense to speak of. Tampa Bay came into the game with league’s 27th ranked rushing offense. The Buccaneers finished the day with 249 yards rushing, with running back Jacquizz Rodgers rushing for a career high 154 yards.
Many fans are calling for the firing of defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil, but Kelly said he will not be making changes to his defensive staff during the bye week.
“We have a great scheme and we have the guys to fit the scheme that he’s trying to run for us,” said defensive lineman DeForest Buckner.
I would disagree with that but not as much as I would disagree with Aaron Lynch.
“We have one of the best teams – we have easily the best team in our conference, for sure,” said Lynch.
My only explanation is he is talking about a different conference in a different league.
But back to offense.
“It comes down to execution, not shooting ourselves in the foot and making plays,” said Kaepernick. “On our two touchdown drives, we had players making plays on the field and we have to be able to continually do that throughout the game because defenses are talented. Things are going to be close and we have to be able to make those plays and that’s ultimately what’s going to be the difference in these games.”
Running back DuJuan Harris had similar thoughts.
“We made some mistakes,” said Harris. “We shot ourselves in the foot and lost the juice. Like I said, in this league, when the other team gets it it’s kind of hard to rebound from it, especially when they score off of [turnovers].”
For example, to start the third quarter, Jeremy Kerley signaled fair catch and then Aaron Burbridge ran right into him, causing a fumble. I would call that shooting yourself in the foot.
Kaepernick led the team with 84 yards rushing, but his second start didn’t inspire much more confidence than the first. And this is coming from your friendly neighborhood Colin Kaepernick fan. Kap finished the day 16 of 34 for 143 yards, a touchdown, an interception and a lost fumble. He currently has a completion rating of 46%. For those of you scoring at home, that is not good. On the plus side, he does show flashes of the old Kap and he should continue to improve, in theory.
“I have to be better,” said Kaepernick. “Throwing, I think we threw for about 100 yards. That’s not going to win in the NFL. We have to be able to do better on that and ultimately, we have to string this together as a team and play well as a team for 60 minutes to get wins.”
The “we have to be better and execute” line is 2016’s version of “but things were so good in practice.” Though, currently, I’m missing the 2015 49ers something fierce. The good news is the 49ers have a bye week. The bad news, after the bye week, there are another nine games of football. Sigh. It can only go up, I think. Go Niners!
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