The NFL is a league that is defined by head coaches and defenders.
This is bad news for the San Francisco 49ers.
Kyle Shanahan and Jimmy Garoppolo turned their individual and collective worst performances of the season on Sunday into a 30-18 defeat in the rain in Sunday Night Football against the Colts.
The Colts are a flawed team that the 49ers have to beat, especially at home. Instead, another loss – their third straight at home and fourth at the trot.
A loss to Indianapolis – bad quarterback, average coach – is a failure that only bodes well for San Francisco this season.
Here are the studs and misses from an overall unsuccessful game.
The rookie running gave the nine the opportunity to appear on the ground immediately, as he showed explosive ability and good eyesight. He finished the day with 107 yards – 57 yards on his first shot of the game – and a touchdown.
He was pretty good, registering three quarterback hits in a day and forcing the Colts to overload their offensive line to try and stop him.
It didn’t matter, but it was impressive. Boza had four tackles.
Was he messing with the installation of the Colts TD?
Yes. He did. But he also had seven catches per 100 yards.
Let’s call it washing.
Do I need another one? Really?
Okay, Moore was fine to replace Trent Williams, who missed Sunday’s game with an ankle injury.
Considering how the rest of the 2021 draft picks performed, it’s good that Moore and Mitchell made a lot of contributions.
But let’s get on with the real stuff:
The other quarterback had to play in the rain too.
And while he was bad, too, he at least found ways to move the ball around the field despite his incredible attempts to pass the ball to the Nines.
Make no mistake, Colts quarterback Carson Wentz stinks. He should use Benny Hill’s theme song as his own.
But Wentz is now much taller than Garoppolo.
Except for one odd streak in the fourth quarter, Garoppolo couldn’t even show interest on Sunday.
In addition, after the 49ers had a 2-0 exit lead, Garoppolo replayed him three times. San Francisco lost the pass battle 4-2.
It was just another awful performance by the quarterback, whose supporters have every reason to play him, and nothing of value to present.
Garoppolo played his hits on Sunday. He didn’t read the field, he refused to push the ball down the field, and when he did, he would kick balls into the windows that were not there and put his receivers in dangerous situations.
There were a few glimpses of positive play, but they were by no means close to suppressing negative ones – missed shots, classic strip bag play, and unnecessary interceptions at the end of the fourth quarter.
I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: Garoppolo shouldn’t start a new game for San Francisco.
Because if Garoppolo is the quarterback who gives the 49ers the best chance of winning, then they have no chance of winning matches for the rest of the season.
Sunday was a truly unacceptable performance by the 49ers head coach.
He was not only a timid and predictable player in weather conditions, but also made three serious mistakes as a head coach:
• No timeouts as the Colts were on the cusp of their second touchdown at the end of the second quarter.
• Getting up with a knee to end the first half, knowing that his team will hit the ball to start the second.
• One of the worst problems I’ve ever seen in an NFL game.
The challenge flag was so confusing that the game stopped. Even the judges said, “Do you want to challenge this?”
Shanahan said that he had not seen the game and, apparently, it was at that moment that the team’s headsets went out.
Shanahan threw the flag on the advice of the sideline players.
Again, he didn’t notice the groping and threw the flag anyway.
It didn’t matter in the end, but it worries.
Over the past few weeks of public appearances – press conferences and the like – Shanahan has been rude at worst and suspended at other times.
He is the coach of the losing team for the fourth out of five years. I don’t expect him to be happy.
But disinterested? It is unacceptable.
To make matters worse, there were times when Shanahan’s attack looked competent – in fact, more than competent. The team’s first attacking move in the game and their first part of the fourth quarter were absolutely impressive.
But outside of those two episodes, Nines constantly stank of offense.
Shanahan is considered an offensive genius. I bought into this hyperbolic praise and insisted on it myself.
There is nothing ingenious about this misbehavior of the nine. It is stale and inadequate. The staff may not be elite, but it can’t be uninteresting.
And yet it is so.
That’s enough to make you wonder if Shanahan wants to be in Santa Clara anymore. It definitely doesn’t look like it.
Brandon Ayuk and the NFL rulebook
Ayuk cannot pass the ball to him, and now he is not even allowed to receive antlers, as he lost this job in the middle of the game on Sunday.
The good news for Ayuk is that his terrible “comeback” in the second quarter could have been – should have been – worse. The NFL rulebook helped him out.
After Ayuk fell next to him, Ayuk changed his mind and ran after the ball. He kicked him in the process – all the way into the 49ers’ end zone. He picked it up and was immediately taken.
Logic asserts that play is security. After all, if the Colts got the ball back in the end zone, it would be a touchdown.
Isn’t the opposite of landing safety?
Obviously not. The rulebook states that the player returning the punt must create a “new force” in order to activate the ball so that it is safe and not a touchback.
Sure, it looks like Ayuk’s blow was a “new force,” but what do I know?
Except for the new rule. Every day you learn something new (and ridiculous).
Choose your minor member
Seriously, whoever you want – on Sunday everyone took turns burning or collecting flags.
The Colts’ offensive plan for most of the game was for Jonathan Taylor to control the ball (it’s fantastic) and then Carson Wentz threw a deep but low thrown ball into the field.
The Colts called a pass foul and suddenly Indianapolis was in the goal zone.
Josh Norman, Jacqui Tartt, C’Vaun Williams and Emmanuelle Moseley were all reported as pass-failing on Sunday.
I have no idea what Dre Kirkpatrick was doing the last time the Colts landed. A 50-50 ball takes effort – Kirkpatrick decided that instead of trying to deny Michael Pittman the ball or get it himself, he would instead just make his two forearms tremble in Colts receiver. It was such a feeble attempt that he was not even noted for attempting to obstruct a clear passage.
Congratulations to Jimmy Ward for being flagless on Sunday.