SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

3 Takeaways for the 49ers From Week 3’s Loss to the Broncos

Sep 26, 2022, 12:00 PM | Updated: 12:41 pm
DENVER, COLORADO - SEPTEMBER 25: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers prepares to take a ...
DENVER, COLORADO - SEPTEMBER 25: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers prepares to take a snap during the second half against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field At Mile High on September 25, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)

The 49ers Week 3 loss still feels a bit raw less than 24 hours later.

Sunday night was a horror show in multiple facets for San Francisco, not only losing to their longtime rival, quarterback Russell Wilson, but also flatlining on offense to lose 11-10 on prime-time television. In a game dominated by the 49ers’ elite defensive unit, the team feels like they could be 3-0.

And they should.

A monsoon in Chicago Week 1 lead to a second-half collapse, and a lack of cohesion turned into an Achilles heel in Colorado. That’s how we got here, a 1-2 record with the Super Bowl champs Los Angeles Rams on the horizon.

Week 3 was full of takeaways (both good and bad), here are a few of the biggest ones from Sunday night.

Missed Opportunities & Penalties

Sunday felt like missed opportunities from the opening drive. In a game reminiscent of Week 1, San Francisco outright owned Wilson and the Broncos early on, holding them to minimal yardage at the end of the first quarter.

The problem? Missed opportunities once again.

After getting the first touchdown on a six-play, 75-yard drive in the second quarter, the offense had no luck after that, falling flat to only muster up a field goal the rest of the way. The first opportunity missed occurred on the very next drive after the score.

Wideout Deebo Samuel was on the right side of the ball and had a free release up the sideline for a would-be touchdown. Unfortunately, Garoppolo didn’t look his way, instead forcing it to WR Brandon Aiyuk who was blanketed by cornerback Patrick Surtain II.

A huge play missed that would have put the 49ers up by two scores, or at least in prime field position. There were three other plays just like that one that doomed the 49ers in the second half Sunday night, including Garoppolo running out of the back of the endzone for a safety.

Those missed chances kept Denver in the game and eventually led them to win.

Penalties were also an issue for the 49ers in Week 3. After having a relatively clean game in Week 2, tic-e-tac calls got San Francisco in trouble throughout the night. The team was flagged seven times for 40 yards, and the offensive line was the culprit of the night, drawing holding penalties that halted the team’s drives, forcing them to punt seven times in Week 3.

It’s better than the 12-flag, 99-yard showing against the Bears, but offensive line coordinator Chris Forester will need to clean that up going forward.

“I thought we made too many mistakes today,” head coach Kyle Shanahan said after the game Sunday. “Thought we made too many mistakes. And not taking anything from [Denver], they did a real good job too.”

Jimmy G & The Offense Need Time

If you didn’t watch Sunday Night Football this week, congrats, you probably had more fun.

Both teams’ offenses were repugnant from the start, combining for 17 punts on the night. Seventeen! On the bright side, 49ers punter Mitch Wishnowsky had a great night, but that’s beside the point. After Sunday’s loss, the faithful all had the same reaction watching Jimmy Garoppolo in the pocket: Déjà Vu.

Garoppolo finished 18 for 29, 211 passing yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. A measly performance, especially after scoring on the team’s second drive of the game. The offense finished 1 for 10 on third down attempts Sunday.

Give credit where credit is due, the Broncos’ defensive unit caused fits for the Red & Gold all night, getting four sacks on Jimmy G. But Week 3’s loss feels like a culmination of not enough first-team reps for a guy that didn’t have a playbook until the final week of the preseason.

From the Deebo miss (twice) to the safety, Garoppolo looked out of sync with his offense, and vice-versa. The icing on the cake was on the team’s second to last drive of the game, forcing a ball to Samuel that was picked off by a Broncos defensive back. Looking rushed, Garoppolo rifled a pass too far in front of his receiver, forcing it into triple coverage that was tipped for the interception.

In the first half Sunday night, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and tight end George Kittle combined for 15 touches for 141 yards and a touchdown. The second half: 2 touches for 5 yards. Garoppolo knows he has some work to do in order to get reacquired with Shanahan’s offense.

“My arm is feeling it right now,” Garoppolo said Sunday after the game. “It was my first week with these guys, we’ve got to get in a rhythm. Re-acclimation period…I’m not trying to make excuses, but I’ve just got to get in game shape and get rolling now…We had a good rhythm last year. We just have to get back to that. We’ll get there.”

The loss of left tackle Trent Williams (ankle) doesn’t help with that, putting the weight of the 49ers’ season firmly on Garoppolo’s shoulders once again.

The 49ers’ Defense is ELITE

Defense wins championships, right?

Well, the 49ers stout defensive unit almost won them the game Sunday night, holding the Broncos’ offense to nine points.

The deciding factor of the game: A safety taken by offense in the third quarter.

Nevertheless, the 49ers should feel very pleased with their defense after Week 3, getting four sacks and numerous pressures on Wilson. Safety Talanoa Hufanga continued to build on his impressive play to start the year, registering four combined tackles and one incredible TFL for a six-yard loss. Defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans sent his safety on an edge blitz, racing past the linemen to wrap up the RB Javonte Williams in the backfield.

Charvarius “Mooney” Ward showed off his man coverage skills Sunday night too, coming with a huge pass breakup in the fourth quarter that would have been a home-run touchdown for the Broncos. He finished with eight combined tackles, one TFL, one PBU, and one forced fumble.

Defensive end Nick Bosa also made his presence felt through this one, getting one sack and an impressive eight QB Hits on Wilson Sunday night. Not every play is a highlight for the former Ohio State Buckeye but he must be accounted for every time he drops into a rushing stance at the line of scrimmage.

The team also lost starting linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair to an MCL sprain, according to Kyle Shanahan. His status is unclear this time.

Week 3’s loss clearly showed that the 49ers need both sides of the ball to work if they want to make a deep run in the postseason, but they have enough pedigree to keep it close if the offense falls through again.

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