49ers Week 9 overreactions: Too much faith in injured players?

·6 min read

49ers overreactions: Too much faith in injury-prone players? originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

OK, folks, this could get ugly.

You might want to excuse the children and make sure they do not get anywhere near this.

No, we’re not talking about the second half of the 49ers’ 2021 season. This installment of 49ers Overreactions could end up being for mature audiences only.

So here we go ...

Overreaction? No.

Wow, I thought we’d be smacked over the head with negativity after the 49ers’ horrendous 31-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 9.

But, no, this is a positive reaction.

Well ... not really.

The 49ers’ museum at Levi’s Stadium is great.

And we are certain that zig-zagging among the historical artifacts was a better experience than watching Colt McCoy, of all people, look unstoppable against the 49ers' hapless defense.

Overreaction? No.

I’ll sheepishly admit I had the 49ers winning the NFC West in my preseason predictions. I forecasted a 49ers loss to Tampa Bay in the divisional round.

The 49ers placed a lot of trust in cornerback Jason Verrett after he remained healthy, by and large, in 2020 and played at an elite level. The 49ers were satisfied with Verrett and Emmanuel Moseley as their starting corners. And, admittedly, this defense would look a lot different with those two players.

Raheem Mostert is a dynamic runner who has battled injuries since he became a full-time running back. Like Verrett, he was lost for the season after Week 1.

I think the 49ers also thought they would finally get production from wide receiver Jalen Hurd, whom they liked so much in 2019 that they selected in the third round. We can only assume the passing game would be better with a legitimate, versatile No. 3 receiver.

The 49ers did not believe they were taking players in the 2021 NFL Draft to provide immediate help because they already had starting-caliber players in those spots.

The exception was Aaron Banks. Chosen in the second round, Banks has yet to work his way into a position to replace right guard Daniel Brunskill. (Banks' time could be coming soon.)

Yes, the 49ers do have some talent. But they don’t have enough good players to compensate for the players who have been sidelined.

Overreaction? No, but ...

It depends on how “make or break” is defined.

We can all assume that Trey Lance will be the team’s quarterback in 2022. If he shows enough potential and progress in his first full season as the starter, 49ers ownership will feel as if the plan is moving forward (almost regardless of the number of victories).

Overreactions? Mixed.

The 49ers did what the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks have done, as far as trading future draft picks. But they did it to select Lance, not stack their roster with big-name veterans.

The Rams mortgaged future drafts for veteran players like Jalen Ramsey. That seems to have worked, so far.

The Seahawks sent a couple of first-round picks to the New York Jets for Jamal Adams. That was a disaster. Adams has been a well-below-average player.

Eddie DeBartolo's approach as 49ers owner was successful. But his spending also led the other NFL owners to enact the salary cap. So, in other words, what the 49ers did in the 1980s and early-1990s can no longer be done.

I still think teams need a good balance of veteran and young starters with veteran and young backups.

The 49ers signed veteran free agents Mohamed Sanu, Josh Norman and Dre Kirkpatrick to low-money deals to be backups. Under the circumstances, maybe that was about as good as they could do to acquire non-starters.

However, the 49ers have been forced to turn to a few non-starters to become starters.

I don’t disagree with the 49ers’ approach to retain most of their top players -- such as George Kittle, Fred Warner, Trent Williams and Arik Armstead -- to big-money deals.

But I will also be curious to see how this works out for the Rams. If they are able to maneuver in a way that enables them to win consistently, they will likely become trendsetters around the NFL.

Overreaction? Yes.

Do you remember Robert Saleh’s first couple of seasons as 49ers defensive coordinator? He came under fire, and people were calling for coach Kyle Shanahan to fire him.

I do not get the sense that DeMeco Ryans has his players underprepared. I do not get the sense Ryans’ defensive calls are being questioned as putting the players in bad situations based on down, distance and tendencies.

Ryans is not a finished product as a defensive coordinator. This is his first season. And, let’s face it, he does not have the same talent to work with as Saleh had in 2019 when his perception among 49ers followers took a 180-degree flip.

Overreactions? No.

There is a reason Jimmie Ward has won the trust of every coaching staff that he’s had with the 49ers. He has always been appreciated by those around him the closest.

Even though Ward has made few big plays and not generated takeaways, his presence seems to have a positive impact on everyone around him.

RELATED: 49ers won't place claim on OBJ despite Hurd, Sanu injuries

Overreaction? TBD.

What you’re saying is not inaccurate. But if you’ve listened to 49ers Talk (see below), you know I have a difficult time talking about this team in those terms until they earn it.

But, yes, all they have to do is hang around the .500 mark, and there remains the (remote?) possibility of playing football after Week 18.

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