SANTA CLARA – Week 14 means the 49ers are on Cincinnati, but before we deal with fans’ Instagram and Twitter Questions in this week’s mailbag, after another loss in Seattle:
Why are the 49ers so inexplicably and relentlessly fragile – mentally and emotionally – against the Seahawks? (@mikev49)
I would add that they are also physically fragile in Seattle, where several 49ers have suffered serious injuries over the years – Navoro Bowman (knee), Ian Williams (ankle), Mario Manningham (knee), Vernon Davis (concussion) And, in Sunday’s opening act, Trenton Cannon (Shake). The 49ers have lost 17 times in the last 20 meetings, so there must be a mental handicap along with physical pain and frustration. The Seahawks own them, and the 49ers currently own the Rams.
Correct?! George Kittel’s 181-yard, two-touchdown performance got lost in Seattle’s shadow. Go back to that tight act with the edge for his second touchdown – the amazing footwork and balance he worked so hard on this past season. Seattle is where he suffered a leg fracture last season. I asked Shanahan why not to throw Kittel on those final plays, to which he said Kittel was indeed the No. 1 target but that Seattle’s defense mooted that option.
When does Trey Lance get a shot? (_@mikemaya)
There are no signs of a Lance cameo. Garoppolo has established himself as Shanahan’s ride-or-die quarterback. More out of curiosity than second guessing, I asked Shanahan if he was tempted to include Lance for Sunday’s final plays and he said: “No, not at all. In that game, we had just 98 yards on the drive. And we’re going to put in the tray, haven’t played in a month? I don’t think it would have been right for them or for our team at all. I’m really good about what we did Put.” Garoppolo knocked them down there, battling all the game and deserved a shot of victory.
Two interceptions! Why not throw an open receiver instead of forcing the kettlebell? (@hardcore_fitness_x)
Without Dibo Samuel, Garoppolo was wise to seek Kittel over and over again. Brandon Ayuk did the OK on the final drive but not that much before that. Garoppolo tries to force it into the final field for Samuel’s replacement, Trent Sherfield, and Shanahan wants him to fight hard for it. At Garoppolo’s interception, he overcame Kittel in double coverage. Great quarterbacks can overcome some infractions, and it helps if they can throw twice as many touchdowns or get in a clutch.
Should the Niners draft cornerbacks first? (@uchiieeboy.ray)
This is not his style. And without a first-round selection (see: March 2021 draft trade), the No. 1 cornerback in the second round wouldn’t sit there. Embry Thomas apparently had a reach this year with a third-round pick, and DiModor Lenore struggled to return to crucial action on Sunday. Emmanuel Moseley’s high ankle sprain will put him on edge for a few games, and Shanahan wants his rookie tandem to propel veterans Josh Norman and Donta Johnson to the starting spots at least this week. Nickel back K’Waun Williams, by the way, is making money in his contract year.
Why doesn’t the NFL want the Niners in the playoffs? (@str8_9er)
opposite of this. The NFL is so parity-driven that almost everyone has a shot, thanks to a third wild-card spot. If the playoffs begin today, the 49ers will head to Lambeau Field. See you there in mid-January. Or in Tampa. Or Dallas.
How can executives be so bad and keep their jobs? (@darewcf)
Every game in every season, in every city, it’s a recurring outcry. Calls get missed. Unfortunately, this is part of any game. As far as the imperfection of the third-down is concerned, yes, Trent Sherfield got trapped in the end zone, but the defender also did well to slip an arm to break the pass. Sunday’s referee in Cincinnati is Craig Rolstadt, and the 49ers are 0-6 in their game since 2015.
Is finding a kicker who can reach touchbacks on the radar? (@DamionTachikoma)
The 49ers often want the kickoff to force a comeback and pin their opponents to the inside 25. It’s not a good strategy, not with this year’s coverage units, even if it’s Mitch Vishnovsky or Robbie Gould kickoff.
When we have juice, do you get annoyed when you run out of shotguns on third and fourth and short? (@dbjorgen1983)
It’s puzzling whenever his Pro Bowl fullback isn’t used enough. Garoppolo, to his credit, has secretly converted well from down the center. Sometimes, when 49ers are in a shotgun, it’s in order to try to run horizontally to the side for a receiver (or kittel) for a run or jet toss. I miss the old days when a running back would get a head start before launching itself like a missile over the trenches.
What are they going to do on the right tackle, slide up Brunskill and start Banks on guard? (@matty_maff)
The move seems a month before Aaron Banks’ rookie year really needs a redshirt season and until Daniel Brunskill is too good on the right guard, which it isn’t. Neither Tom Compton nor Jalon Moore has inspired Mike McGlinchy as a replacement. Compton was steamrolled on a safety-resulting sack by Carlos Dunlop, and Dunlop was able to prevent that final pass breakup.
Why exactly do they keep Ayuk there to return the punt? (@deuceswild83)
Because they continue to expect him to show off his punt comeback skills from Arizona State. Instead, each withdrawal is a hold-your-breath moment. He averages 8.3 yards per return and does not exceed 27 yards. His last comeback resulted in a 4-yard loss to the 49ers’ 8-yard line in the fourth quarter. Travis Benjamin certainly doesn’t look like a better option after his kick return, and Mohammad Sanu is still on injured reserve. Too bad they won’t be kicking Trent Taylor out of Bengals practice squad this week; He averaged 9.6 yards on 49 punts for the 49ers from 2017-2020.