3 Takeaways from 49ers' Week 4 Loss
The San Francisco 49ers fell to 2-2 on Sunday thanks to a loss to the NFC West rival Seattle Seahawks. After a defense-oriented first half led to a 7-7 tie at the break, both offenses emerged in the second half.
Russell Wilson did Russell Wilson things—he finished with two passing touchdowns and a rushing score—while the 49ers were forced to rely on rookie quarterback Trey Lance. Starter Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a calf injury, the latest entry into a growing list of ailments.
"It's just tough, man," Garoppolo said, per Josh Dubow of the Associated Press. "I've been in this situation too many times. It's getting real old."
Garoppolo said after the game that he could miss a "couple of weeks," so this may be Lance's team for the immediate future. Here's what else we learned during San Francisco's 28-21 loss in Week 4.
Trey Lance Is Going to Have His Ups and Downs
The 49ers showed Sunday that they are not instantly going to be a better team with Lance under center instead of Garoppolo. While fans have been eager to see the rookie from the moment he was drafted in April, San Francisco went with the veteran for a reason.
Lance had his fair share of bright moments against Seattle. He tossed a pair of touchdown passes and rushed for 41 yards. However, he also struggled with accuracy issues, completing just 50 percent of his passes for 157 yards.
In short, Lance played like a rookie quarterback with both upside and a lack of experience—which, of course, he is.
"He did a good job moving the chains a couple of times with his legs, but it looked like a typical first game," head coach Kyle Shanahan said, per Dubow.
If San Francisco is going to get past the Arizona Cardinals in Week 5, it will have to endure rookie struggles at quarterback.
Injuries Could Again Derail San Francisco's Season
San Francisco went from being a Super Bowl team in 2019 to an also-ran in 2020 largely because of injuries. The same thing could be coming in 2021.
The 49ers have already lost players like Raheem Mostert and Jason Verrett for the season. Garoppolo is now sidelined, and kicker Robbie Gould suffered a groin injury during pregame warmups. More alarming is the fact that star left tackle Trent Williams exited with a shoulder injury and did not return.
"Kyle Shanahan is definitely concerned about Trent Williams, who suffered a shoulder injury," Jennifer Lee Chan of NBC Sports Bay Area tweeted.
If Williams is forced to miss an extended period, it's going to place Lance and the 49ers in a difficult situation. Next time out, they are set to face a Cardinals defense that has registered 10 sacks through four games. A loss would put San Francisco three games out of first place with a head-to-head defeat to Arizona on the resume.
If you think Garoppolo is sick of the injury bug, imagine how the 49ers feel.
Run Defense Is a Growing Concern
The 49ers defense played well enough to keep this one close in the first half. Unfortunately, special teams mistakes—including a missed field goal and a muffed punt—prevented the 49ers from keeping it that way in the second.
Another issue was San Francisco's inability to stop Seattle's ground game. The Seahawks rushed for 105 yards, with the vast majority coming in the second half. While Seattle averaged just 3.8 yards per carry, it ran for seven first downs in the final two quarters.
This is a concerning trend for the San Francisco defense, which ranks 20th in yards per carry allowed. The 49ers have conceded at least 100 yards rushing in every game this season. This also could be a problem against the Cardinals in Week 5—Chase Edmonds, James Conner and Kyler Murray combined for 209 rushing yards against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
If the 49ers cannot begin stopping the run with more consistency, competing in the brutal NFC West will be borderline impossible.