The San Francisco 49ers are entering their bye week as one of the NFL's more embattled teams in terms of media coverage. San Fran started so hot everybody penciled them in for a Super Bowl spot by the end of the first month of the year, but the train started coming off the tracks after their beatdown of the Dallas Cowboys on national television in Week 5. Following that victory the Niners have dropped three straight, and two of those were pretty bad losses-- no true contender should be losing to P.J. Walker and the Minnesota Vikings without Justin Jefferson are not a super-dangerous offense. Their loss to the Cincinnati Bengals yesterday completed their fall from grace and now we're at the point where pundits are openly wondering if they'll even make the playoffs.
That's right. Keyshawn Johnson became the first to put that thought out into the takeverse on Monday. And you know what? He made some pretty coherent points!
Johnson is absolutely right in pointing out it's concerning that the Niners' vaunted defense has been unable to key in on the opposing offense's top threat for the last few weeks. Jordan Addison didn't have that great of a game in Minnesota but he still scored twice as the team's only legitimate receiving threat. The Bengals are a tougher offense to stop than they showed in the opening weeks of the year but the key to stopping them the last few years has been dealing with Ja'Marr Chase first and hoping everything else falls into place. If you can't do that, you're pretty much screwed. San Francisco's defense is supposed to be equally as dominant as Kyle Shanahan's offense, yet they've let everyone down recently.
Purdy, obviously, deserves the lion's share of the blame for at least Sunday's loss and potentially the previous two as well. The three or four errant passes he has every game are now being caught for interceptions instead of bouncing off defenders' hands. He tanked his team's chances of beating Cincy with two back-breaking interceptions on drives where he could've tied the game. How the defense is doing or how good Shanahan is at calling plays doesn't matter if the offense is shooting itself in the foot.
Even with all that said it's an extremely long shot that San Francisco actually misses the postseason. The bottom half of the playoff totem pole in the NFC is not very competitive. And while Johnson alluded to it he didn't spend much time speaking about how Purdy's play has taken a nosedive without his starting left tackle and No. 1 wide receiver, which is how it would go for pretty much every QB in the league other than Patrick Mahomes. Better health will right the ship more effectively than anything else, which makes this bye week well-timed.
The schedule isn't easy but we don't need to be *this* reactionary all the time. A pointless plea, I know, but a plea nonetheeless.