The 49ers are in trouble and sinking fast.
Kyle Shanahan's battered and bruised group limped into Week 5 at 2-2, needing a win against the Miami Dolphins before facing the toughest schedule stretch in the NFL over the next seven games. Instead, the 49ers were pasted by Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Fins 43-17 at Levi's Stadium to fall to 2-3.
It was as deflating a loss as their could have been. Jimmy Garoppolo was pulled at halftime in part to protect his still injured ankle and in part due to poor play. Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon initially wasn't going to play but then was inserted after Brian Allen was torched into the center of the Earth. It was an epic debacle, but one that 49ers legend Jerry Rice believes the team can rebound from.
But in order to do, the 49ers' leaders must change the tone in the locker room.
"I was one of those guys, I was all about setting the example," Rice said on 95.7 The Game's "The Morning Roast with Bonta, Kate and Joe." "The way I practiced. The way I played during the football game. You've got to have leaders like that. I think with the 49ers what they are missing is those type of leaders. Richard Sherman is still out. I don't see anyone else stepping up. They might try to do it as a cohesive group.
"But they need leaders. They need guys to step up and say, 'Hey we're 2-3 right now. We still in this. We can come out of this but we are going to have to work together and hold each other accountable. If we do this we have a chance. If we don't we're just going to keep losing games.'"
Through five weeks, the 49ers' planned "Revenge Tour" has been deflated and made giant fart noise from coast to coast. The 49ers are 0-3 at Levi's Stadium, including losses to the Dolphins and lowly Philadelphia Eagles. Yes, there are injuries. Many of them.
No, they don't matter. The opponents don't care and it's up to Shanahan, Garoppolo and the rest of the 49ers' leaders to turn the ship around before it sinks.
Rice isn't throwing in the towel on the last-place 49ers just yet. But he realizes the urgency of the moment. The 49ers face the 4-1 Los Angeles Rams this Sunday on "Sunday Night Football" and won't get a break until their Week 11 bye.
Only they can help themselves. There's no excuse for this team to 2-3. With Garoppolo hobbled, Rice wants everyone else to elevate their game to help the star signal-caller or backup C.J, Beathard, who RIce expects to start vs. the Rams.
"I am not going to give up on the San Francisco 49ers," Rice said. "This team is 2-3 right now, they have a big game coming up against the Rams. They should have won against the Miami Dolphins, but those are the type of games that you have to prepare yourself for and get ready for. ... The Niners, you know, they got to fight back. Because their bye week is not until Week 11. So there still is a lot of football to be played, but it's going to be up to players to look at themselves and make themselves better.
We know with the quarterback it's a little tougher. We know Jimmy G was out for a while and he's still trying to battle his high ankle sprain, so everyone else is going to have to be at their best. If they can do that that will take some pressure off him. I know C.J. Beathard is probably going to be the starting quarterback next week."
If they don't elevate their collective games and fast, they could be dead on arrival come Dec. 1.