3 Takeaways from 49ers' Week 5 Loss

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistOctober 11, 2021

3 Takeaways from 49ers' Week 5 Loss

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    Darryl Webb/Associated Press

    The San Francisco 49ers put together a valiant effort against the undefeated Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. While they weren't able to best their NFC West divisional foe, they did manage to contain Kyler Murray and an offense that had been rolling.

    Quarterback Trey Lance had a respectable showing in his first NFL start, which was sparked by yet another Jimmy Garoppolo injury (calf). The rookie was far from perfect, but he managed to keep the 49ers in the game with his legs and his arm.

    While the 49ers cannot feel great about the loss or their 2-3 start to the season, they cannot be counted out just yet. San Francisco has a long way to go to catch Arizona in the division, but it proved on Sunday that it can hang with the Cardinals even under less-than-ideal circumstances.

    Here's what else we learned during San Francisco's 17-10 loss in Week 5.

Trey Lance Has a Ton of Potential but Is Still Learning

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    Ralph Freso/Associated Press

    Throughout Sunday's contest, Lance showed fans exactly why the 49ers were willing to take him third overall in April's draft. He regularly chewed up yards on the ground, finishing with 89 yards on 16 carries. He also flashed his arm talent, completing passes of more than 12 yards to six different players.

    It's worth noting the 21-year-old was operating without star tight end George Kittle, who was recently placed on injured reserve with a calf injury.

    However, Lance also showed fans why the 49ers were willing to stick with Garoppolo as this season's starer—and why he will almost certainly return as the starter once healthy.

    Lance completed just 15 of his 29 attempts and threw a critical interception on the game's opening drive. The Cardinals turned that interception into a James Conner touchdown to earn a lead they would not relinquish.

    The interception came on an ugly high throw to wideout Travis Benjamin.

    On a day when the defense played well enough to win, Lance's miscues loomed large. While there's no guarantee that San Francisco would have won with Garoppolo under center, Lance showed that he still isn't quite ready to overtake the veteran if he is healthy.

A Defensive Rebound Shows Promise

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    San Francisco's defensive performance was encouraging. While Murray, DeAndre Hopkins and the rest of the Cardinals offense have largely had their way with opposing defenses this season, things were different against the 49ers.

    Murray still threw for 239 yards and a touchdown, but the 49ers limited him on the ground. Constant pressure forced him to leave the pocket early, while a swarming second-level unit limited runs early and often.

    In all, the Cardinals produced just 94 rushing yards while averaging 3.5 yards per carry. The quarterback scrambled seven times but came up with just a single rushing yard.

    Arizona was just 3-of-10 on third-down attempts.

    This rebound comes after San Francisco surrendered 28 points to the Seattle Seahawks. The 49ers should head into the Week 6 bye feeling good about the direction in which their defense is headed. Hopefully, more strong outings will follow.

Nick Bosa Is All the Way Back

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    Ralph Freso/Associated Press

    Quarterbacks Dak Prescott and Joe Burrow are likely the early front-runners for NFL Comeback Player of the Year. However, 49ers pass-rusher Nick Bosa could make a strong push for the award following last season's torn ACL.

    The 23-year-old continues to show that the injury is fully behind him, and he had another strong outing against Arizona. He finished with one sack, two quarterback hits, two tackles for loss and four solo stops.

    On the season, Bosa has produced five sacks, eight tackles for loss and 14 quarterback pressures. Just as importantly, he still hasn't reached his NFL ceiling.

    "I'm still getting better this year. But yeah, I've definitely come a long way just with the mental aspect. And I think, physically, I'm much better too," he said, per Rohan Chakravarthi of 49ers WebZone.

    If Bosa continues to play as he did on Sunday, the 2019 Defensive Rookie of the Year could soon put another award or two in his trophy case.


    Advanced statistics from Pro Football Reference.


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