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Can the 49ers fix the shattered offense in time for top performing chiefs? After that, it’s McCaffrey to the rescue – The Mercury News


SANTA CLARA — The 49ers are averaging 20.3 points per game. Even in the toughest years under coach Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers have never finished a season with so much difficulty finding the end zone.

And here are the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium, still with quarterback Patrick Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce under coach Andy Reid, leading the NFL with 29.8 points per game.

It’s a far less productive 49ers offense than the one that faced the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV, the one that led the league at 29.9 points per game in the regular season and crushed Minnesota and Green Bay before fail in Miami.

According to multiple reports, former Stanford star and Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey is coming to the rescue, so the 49ers are obviously worried enough to leave with considerable draft capital.

McCaffrey is unlikely to make much of an impression against the Chiefs, although we will hear more from Shanahan on Friday.

The 49ers averaged 20.7 points per game in Shanahan’s first season, going 6-10 and 21.4 going 4-12 in 2018 and 24.4 going 6-10. in 2020.

Strip away defensive touchdowns from Talanoa Hufanga and Emmanuel Moseley this season and the 49ers offense was responsible for just 18.0 points per game in six games following a 28-14 road loss to Atlanta.

The prevailing notion among offensive players is that there is plenty of time to increase those numbers, and too much talent for it not to happen.

“It starts with us as players. We just have to execute better,” quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said Thursday. “It sounds pretty cliche, but there are some easy parts that we left there on Sunday that we should have done and have done in the past. We have to do the little things in training that turn into the game.”

Blaming quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo solely for the offensive fade would be a mistake. It’s the offense that needs to carry Garoppolo and not the other way around, and in six games the 49ers are falling short.

“We’ve shot ourselves in the foot too many times,” left tackle Trent Williams said. “I think that’s why the scoreboard doesn’t reflect the talent we have.”

It should help that Williams, one of the best in his position, is back in the starting lineup after missing three games with a sprained ankle.

The 49ers have one of the best defensive teams in the NFL, although they were less than that in a 28-14 road loss to Atlanta without the likes of Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, Emmanuel Moseley and Charvarius Ward (for half) and Jimmie Ward. Armstead will not play and Moseley is out for the season. Bosa should play and Ward has a chance with a sprained groin.

To finish off George Kittle, the magic number is 24, and it has nothing to do with Willie Mays.

“We’re going to have to score a minimum of 24 points if we’re going to win these games,” Kittle said. “So far that’s pretty true. We’re trying not to turn the ball over, to score 24 points and our defense is doing a really good job.

“Now we are playing probably the best attack we are going to face. They have Mahomes, Kelce, good receivers, good run-game and a top-three defense. Our attack is going to have to stay on the pitch, control the ball and not let Mahomes go to work. »

It’s true that the 49ers have scored 27, 24 and 37 in their wins, and 10, 10 and 14 in their losses.

So it would be up to the 49ers to get things rolling as soon as possible. A few issues to address on Sunday:

Deebo Samuel (19) has been at the center of opposition defenses for six games this season. Getty Images

The right mix for Deebo

If it looked like Deebo Samuel was a lot more explosive at the start of last season, you’d be right. In six games, he had 38 receptions for 648 yards (17.0 yards per catch) and four touchdowns against 27 receptions for 345 yards (12.8 ypc) and two scores.

But here’s the catch. Samuel actually had more touches in six games last season (50 vs. 44) because he hadn’t been used much as a ball carrier yet. He has 23 carries for 136 yards compared to just six carries a year ago.

Some of the issues with releasing Samuel have to do with teams being more afraid of him after a breakout season and using their resources to slow him down. Whatever the reason, Shanahan must find ways to send Samuel into space.

“I don’t think they defend Deebo any differently,” racing game coordinator Chris Foerster said. “We put him in similar situations and there are opportunities. He missed some. Others we didn’t execute properly for him.

McCaffrey’s arrival as a runner and receiver could ease things up for Samuel in both areas.

Find Kittle in the end zone

Tight end George Kittle missed the first two games with a groin injury, and has 19 receptions for 182 yards and no touchdowns in four games. He came close twice – once when Kittle couldn’t get both feet inbounds against Carolina and a touchdown was reversed, and a second time when he went wide open against Atlanta and that Garoppolo missed it by rolling to his right.

Kittle’s last touchdown came on a 16-yard pass from Garoppolo in last season’s NFC title game against the Rams and he hasn’t had a regular season touchdown since Week 13 last season against Cincinnati. .

Even taking into account that his blocking duties are far greater than those of Chiefs counterpart Travis Kelce, Kittle needs to get into the end zone for the 49ers offense to pick up the pace.

Finish what they started

Much has been made of the twists and turns of the 49ers’ time-consuming 16 games against Atlanta when they devoured 8:08 down by 14 points. And did not score.

Yes, it hurt and it was annoying to watch. But Shanahan made it clear that the issue was not marking more than the time consumed. The fact is that it will not change. If Shanahan thinks there’s time for two scores, he’s gonna be patient, like it or not. That’s how it’s wired, for better or worse.

Finishing more records would make a big difference. Seven times in 17 red-zone possessions, the 49ers have failed to score a touchdown. It’s not good enough.

run the ball

The 49ers have handled the ball well at times, but not consistently, rushing for 518 of 744 yards in three games.

California Daily Newspapers

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