The San Francisco 49ers head back to the drawing board this week following a Week 1 loss to the Carolina Panthers. Now the focus shifts to a Week 2 rivalry game against the Seattle Seahawks. If the 49ers are to get their first win of the 2017 season, it will mean winning on the road in Seattle for the first time since 2011.
With that, it’s time for this week’s mailbag.
It’s hard to say that Carlos Hyde was underused when the 49ers trailed for most of the game. Hyde did run well, racking up 45 yards on just nine carries, but the flow of the game limited him to just two carries in the second half. I’m sure everyone would tell you that they’d like to get Hyde more touches in Seattle in order to remain balanced offensively. However, his workload will be determined primarily by the scoreboard and the 49ers ability to sustain drives.
The good news for Hyde is that he’s developed as a pass-catcher and will still be used on passing downs. His six targets and six receptions against the Panthers were both career-highs for the fourth-year back.
San Francisco will go up against another talented defensive front in Seattle, which could mean the continued use of two tight end sets. Trent Taylor played 24 out of a possible 57 snaps which means that the 49ers just didn’t use three receiver sets all that often against Carolina.
Matt Breida’s role won’t change much as the 49ers No. 2 running back, but he will play more as the 49ers find more offensive success. The more San Francisco works Hyde, the more Breida will come in to spell the 49ers top runner. There simply wasn’t enough offensive success in Week 1 for the 49ers to properly integrate two running backs into the game.
I’d call the run defense an improvement. The 49ers ranked dead last in opponent’s yards per carry in 2016. Through one game, San Francisco ranks 13th after holding Carolina to a 3.1-yard average. It’s also worth noting that 50 of the Panthers 116 rushing yards (43 percent) came on the game’s final drive when the game was virtually over.
Jonathan Stewart ended the game with just 65 yards on 18 carries and rookie phenom Christian McCaffrey was limited to 47 yards on 13 carries. What’s more, the 49ers didn’t allow a single explosive run. McCaffrey’s 11-yard run in the game’s final moments was the longest run San Francisco allowed all game. Those are numbers you’d take every single time.
Now, in regards to the pass-rush…
The 49ers inability to get to Cam Newton is cause for some concern. San Francisco only hit Newton twice, and Elvis Dumervil was the lone player who came close to getting a sack. That is something that will have to be remedied going forward, whether it be the implementation of more blitz packages or simply finding success with a four-man rush.
As for Aaron Lynch, Kyle Shanahan shared on Monday that the linebacker was a healthy scratch. That could change in Week 2 should the 49ers feel like Lynch could provide the pass rush with a shot in the arm.
In addition to Lynch, Laken Tomlinson and Jimmie Ward are two more names who would make their 2017 debuts. Starting with Tomlinson, the 49ers traded for the guard because of a lack of depth on the interior offensive line. He could be called into service in Week 2 after the 49ers allowed four sacks and eight quarterback hits against the Panthers. Tomlinson’s availability against the Seahawks will be determined by his ability to get up to speed in Shanahan’s offense. According to the 49ers head coach, San Francisco is asking Tomlinson to do something he’s never done before. “He's never used the techniques that we’re asking him to,” Shanahan said on Monday.
“He's definitely got the ability to and that's why we're excited to have him here, and we're just trying to work with him and get him comfortable to do it and put him in an NFL game for the first time in a while.”
As for Ward, he will need to be a full participant in practice before the 49ers feel comfortable starting him at free safety. He is the team’s best option at that spot and could provide a boost to the 49ers defense as a whole. His status will be worth monitoring throughout the week.