The San Francisco 49ers were banged up coming in to the Meadowlands, particularly in the secondary. They were without start tight end George Kittle, too. Then they lost defensive linemen Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas early in the game. Then they played the second half without quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and running back Raheem Mostert, too.
Didn’t matter. Not against these Jets.
In one of their worst performances of the last two seasons – which yes, is really saying something – the Jets trailed from literally the first snap of the game to the last, losing to the banged-up 49ers 31-13. The Jets defense was surprisingly terrible. The offense was its usual bad self. And another receiver (Breshad Perriman) got hurt to make it even worse.
How bad was it? Here’s the unhappy recap of the game that left the Jets in a very deep 0-2 hole ...
It was like the Jets defense wasn’t ready on the first play of the game – a simple pitch to the right to 49ers RB Raheem Mostert. He went untouched for an 80-yard touchdown. And while he’s fast, this play had everything to do with some terrible Jets defense. CB Quincy Wilson took a bad angle and was blocked out of the play behind the line of scrimmage. Rookie S Ashtyn Davis was easily blocked out of the play. And new LB Alec Ogletree, who got the start over Avery Williamson, was slow to get to the hole. He was the one who could’ve stopped the run before it really started.
Giving Ogletree the start over Williamson was a dangerous move. Yes, the Jets aren’t quite sure about Williamson, who was playing in his first game since tearing his ACL last summer. But Ogletree looked done when he was with the Giants last year. That play where he was slow to the hole on Mostert’s run? It surely was familiar to Giants fans.
The Jets defense overall wasn’t good. Worse, it was surprisingly soft. They got little pressure on 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo, despite an early sack by Quinnen Williams that left Garoppolo with a limp. He had plenty of time in the pocket and plenty of room underneath some soft coverage to pick the Jets apart. It’s why he was so efficient: He completed his first eight passes and was 14 of 16 for 131 yards by halftime. ........................
How bad was the Jets’ defense? In the third quarter they had the 49ers pinned deep in their own territory and facing a 3rd and 31. The 49ers, with Mostert out with a knee injury and starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo out with an ankle injury, wisely gave up and just handed the ball to Jerrick McKinnon ... who promptly took off for a 55-yard gain.
Williams actually had a pretty good game and ended up with seven tackles and two sacks. The Jets obviously aren’t getting any pressure from the outside, so if he can start generating some inside the defense might not look so soft.
Safety Marcus Maye had his hands full with TE Jordan Reed. He got picked and was late in coverage on Reed’s first touchdown, and was late in trying to reach across him on his second touchdown. The Jets don’t really have the linebackers to cover tight ends, so that’s going to be Maye’s responsibility all year long. He’s going to have to be better.
Frank Gore wasn’t spectacular, but he did what he’s always done – he kept the ball moving forward. He finished with a very efficient 63 yards on 21 carries.
Adam Gase made a good decision to go for it on 4th and 1 from the San Francisco 20 in the second quarter with the Jets trailing 14-3. But why, oh why, would he use that moment to pull Gore and give Josh Adams his first carry of the game? All Gore does is go forward. It was a perfect situation for him. Instead, G Greg Van Roten didn’t pick up blitzing LB Fred Warner and Adams got blown up in the backfield, leaving the Jets with no points.
Want another bad decision? Late in the third quarter, after a big interception by Jets CB Pierre Desir, the Jets had a 4th and goal from the 49ers 7 after TE Chris Herndon couldn’t hang on to a pass in the end zone. The Jets are trailing 24-3 and Gase ... calls for the field goal unit? They don’t get near the end zone often enough. He needed to try again and give them a chance to make it 24-10.
As if the Jets didn’t have enough problems at receiver, with Jamison Crowder (hamstring) out and rookie Denzel Mims (hamstrings) on injured reserve, they lost Breshad Perriman in the first half with an ankle injury. That left QB Sam Darnold with Chris Hogan (6 catches, 75 yards) as his No. 1 receiver, and Braxton Berrios (6-59, 1 touchdown) and Josh Malone (4-16) as the next two. And then Hogan left with a rib injury in the third quarter leaving the Jets with two active receivers. Unbelievable.
It’s almost unfair to judge Darnold based on that sad array of weapons he has, but at least it should be noted that he wasn’t terrible. He still looks like his mechanics are off – a lot of unnecessary, back-foot throws – but he was efficient, completing 21 of 32 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown. But like last week, a disturbingly big chunk of that came in garbage time. There wasn’t really much downfield, but with those receivers it’s easy to see why Gase and Darnold would keep everything short.
The one surprising part of the offense, considering the lack of receivers: What the heck has happened to their tight ends? Chris Herndon, who was supposed to be a breakout start, had one catch for five yards and was only targeted four times. And Ryan Griffin, who proved to be a receiving threat last season, wasn’t targeted at all. Why not use them more in the passing game?