3 Takeaways From The 49ers Loss In Week 6 at Atlanta

Oct 18, 2022, 3:00 PM | Updated: 3:23 pm
The San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons line up for a play during the fourth quarter at Mercede...
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - OCTOBER 16: The San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons line up for a play during the fourth quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on October 16, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The San Francisco 49ers are coming back from their East Coast road trip battered and bruised, losing their last game to the Atlanta Falcons, 28-14. Currently 3-3 on the regular season, the Red & Gold still have a slight hold on the NFC West, but now is not the time to take any shortcuts or make any excuses.

“You know we gotta go back to the drawing board,” quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said postgame Sunday. “Suck it up, watch the film on the flight home. Get after it tomorrow and move on.”

With that in mind, here are three takeaways from Week 6 in Atlanta.

Injuries on Top of Injuries

The 49ers have been hit with the injury bug in the past but this year feels a tad bit extreme, even by their standards.

Currently, without even starters on the defense and one massive hole at left tackle (Trent Williams), San Francisco has had to scrap by with backups and rookies that haven’t had enough reps yet in the NFL. The newest injury on the defensive side of the ball is second-year standout Talanoa Hufanga, suffering a concussion in Week 6.

The injury occurred early in the first quarter. Hufanga was sent over to the blue tent for examination, passing the first test before being sent back out onto the field. Getting through the game, the safety had to pass a second test afterward Sunday, which he passed. The next morning was a different story, as he showed up with symptoms in the third test, which lands him on the protocol for the week.

“There’s always a third one the day after a game and he came in with some symptoms today, so that’s why he is in it,” head coach Kyle Shanahan explained Monday.

Additionally, cornerback Charvarius Ward and right tackle Mike McGlinchey were ruled out at halftime with injuries. Ward suffered a groin strain in the second quarter that kept him on the sideline for the rest of the day. The latter suffered a calf contusion after being rolled up on in the same quarter. His injury looked to be the worse of the two, visibly in pain as he labored up and down the field before being ruled out.

Thankfully, both injuries are minor and seen as “day-to-day” by the team’s medical staff.

The 49ers could also get back defensive end Nick Bosa and left tackle Trent Williams the week as well.

Bosa has been dealing with a groin strain suffered in Carolina Week 5. The injury kept him out of last week’s game as a precaution. Meanwhile, Williams has been out for a few weeks with a high ankle sprain sustained in Week 3 at Denver.  Slowly coming back to full health, the LT has made appearances in pre-game workouts over the last few weeks.

“A lot better than last week,” Shanahan said regarding both players’ status. “I’m really hoping for it and I think there’s a decent chance.”

A shed of optimism for the 49ers amidst a rather unlucky spell of injuries.

A Clunky Offense Leads to No Second-Half Scores

The 49ers’ offense had five possessions in the second half, can you guess how they went? Don’t worry I got you: Punt, punt, interception, punt, end of the game. The worst part is that the first one was a three-and-out on top of the punt.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers’ offense flatlined in the second half Sunday, producing no points in 30 minutes of football. Wow. We knew there would be some issues going from Trey Lance to Jimmy G (he didn’t have a playbook until the end of August) but this was downright awful, even for them.

Garoppolo actually had one of his best days slinging the rock this season, finishing with 296 yards passing and two touchdowns. He also threw two picks along the way.

Despite a solid individual performance, this is the third time this season the 49ers have struggled to score the football in the second half. Week 1 in Chicago was a monsoon (excusable), Week 3 in Denver was against the strange Broncos defense, and Week 6 was in Atlanta, where SF got outclassed for 48 minutes by Marcus Mariota.

“I don’t know. I’d say the most common thread, I think is when we struggle on third down. I feel we struggle to get points and I think that happened definitely in this game and that definitely happened versus Denver, so that could be some more common things. We’re moving the ball decent, but we’re not getting enough points and we have to finish out and capitalize on some of these opportunities and we have to start putting more points on the board,” Shanahan explained Monday.

He’s right, something has to change or click on offense because the defense can only carry you for so long with this team’s injury luck.

Kyle Shanahan’s Atrocious Time Management

Kyle Shanahan has gotten his fair share of criticism and compliments since taking over the Bay Area gig in 2017. The criticism was about as valid as it’ll ever be after his fourth-quarter debacle Sunday.

Down by two scores with 1o minutes and 42 seconds to go in the fourth, the 49ers are spotted at their own one-yard-line. Instead of opting for a no-huddle approach, given the Falcons have dominated possession up to this point, Shanahan and the offense go on a 16-play, 80-yard drive that takes more than eight minutes of game time.

The result: No points and a turnover on downs.

“I just knew we had two more times with the ball,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said postgame Sunday. “We did do a number of no-huddle plays. We also mixed it up by not doing it, too. So, we did both.”

The 49ers huddled up for 16 of the team’s 19 snaps (penalties included) in said drive, so that was a slight fib there Kyle.

My other issue was with the playcalling with one yard to go. Third and one is a pitch to the outside that gets stopped immediately because the team was without their right tackle. Fourth and one was a quick pass to WR Deebo Samuel, Jimmy G throws it low while blanketed by defenders, incomplete.

“The key is that you can’t come up short on that and expect the ball and get the ball twice,” Shanahan added. “We’re not going to panic when we feel like we have two more possessions, especially with three timeouts. But when you don’t score on that that, definitely [it] backfires when you don’t score on one of them.”

While Shanahan is indeed a football savant, sometimes he takes the opposition for granted by choosing to be more conservative. The offense should have been in hurry-up from the start of the drive, keeping the Falcons on their heels for the duration of the series.

Instead they burned eight minutes and had no points to show for it, real smart game management Kyle.

This was the type of game that if the season goes south, the front office will be looking here first for what went wrong this season.


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