San Francisco 49ers Week Fifteen Takeaways

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 04: San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) passes the ball in the 1st quarter during an NFL football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Chicago Bears on December 04, 2016, at Soldier Field in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Daniel Bartel/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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The San Francisco 49ers kept here losing streak alive this week with a loss to the Atlanta Falcons.  This leaves San Francisco an abysmal 1-13 and fourth in the NFC West.  There are a few observations we can takeaway from Sundays game.  Quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers offense was once again unable to get a rhythm going in the passing game.  Also, San Francisco’s defense was unable to stop the run and suffered a number of crucial injuries.  It is becoming painfully clear that the experiment with Chip Kelly is not working and it may be time for San Francisco to part ways with their head coach.

San Francisco 49ers Week Fifteen Takeaways

The 49ers defense failed to show up again this week against Atlanta.  On 66 plays Atlanta was able to accumulate 550 yards of total offense.  With 29 first downs on 11 total drives the Falcons were averaging 8.3 yards per play versus San Francisco.  Matt Ryan was 18-24 for 302 yards passing, giving him an outstanding 12.1 yards per pass.  The biggest weakness of San Francisco’s defense this season their run defense, which ranks last in the league.  Devonta Freeman ran for 139 yards and three touchdowns as the Falcons torched the 49ers defense on the ground.  In total Atlanta gained 248 yards rushing on 41 attempts.  That averages to be a game-controlling 6.0 yards per rush.  Atlanta certainly did control the entire game having possessed the ball for just over 36 minutes.

Historically Weak Defense

San Francisco was already weak at the linebacker position going into week fifteen against Atlanta.  The 49ers line backing core has been reeling since the early season injury to Navorro Bowman.  Things did not get better when inside linebacker Nick Bellore was hurt in the first quarter and left the game with an elbow injury.  Adding to the fray, linebacker Gerald Hodges was deactivated before the game for violating team rules.  After Bellore went down the 49ers were forced to play safeties at the inside linebacker position.  Vinnie Sunseri and Antoine Bethea stepped up and filled the void, but were unable to be effective.

All these factors lead to San Francisco breaking a franchise record, and not one they should be proud of.  The 49ers have given up more rushing yards this season then in any previous year.  With two games remaining the 49ers have already given up 2,486 rushing yards.  The prior record was 2,363 yards given up by the 1978 49ers who finished that season with only two victories.  Injuries are a factor in San Francisco’s decline over the past few seasons.  Another direct link to that decline has been coaching.

Chip Kelly Experiment Must End

It is time for San Francisco and Chip Kelly to go different paths.  The best thing Kelly can hope to do at this point is return to collegiate ball.  Kelly is an offensive minded coach.  His schemes and plays may work at the college level but do not translate well to the NFL.  In college Kelly is able to recruit and select the players he best thinks will fit his system.  He can not be as selective at the professional level with factors such as free agency.  Kelly is not good at taking players as they are and using their strengths as well as hiding their weaknesses.  This is something that Bill Belichick does well in New England, and why they are perpetually successful.  Hopefully, the powers that be in San Francisco are already thinking about their next head coach.