How Takeo suggests 49ers can salvage brutal season on brink originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
It wasn't pretty. In fact, it was downright embarrassing.
The 49ers entered Week 5 at 2-2 facing a mediocre Miami Dolphins team before starting on a seven-game schedule gauntlet that was expected to define their season. Everyone thought the defending NFC champions, even with all of their injuries, would handle Ryan Fitzpatrick and exit the week with their heads above water.
That didn't happen. The 49ers were outplayed from the opening kick as the Dolphins picked them up, turned them upside down and stole their lunch money like a schoolyard bully. The result: A 43-17 beatdown that has the 49ers reeling heading into a Week 6 tilt with the Los Angeles Rams.
With their next seven opponents owning a combined 22-6 record, it's now or never for the hobbled 49ers to save their once-promising season from the brink of collapse.
Can they do it? Takeo Spikes thinks there is a way the 49ers can salvage the season even if it doesn't show up in the win column.
"Over 10 starters injured, that's hard enough as it is," Spikes said. "You acknowledge the reason you are in this position, good and bad. Focus on living from week-to-week. Day-in and day-out. You show positive reinforcement of the great plays that you made from this season. Not last season, this season. You show them and remind the guys, 'This is who you are. This is who you are when adversity strikes. This is what you did when the offense turned the football over and you controlled sudden change. You didn't allow any points and if you did, it was only three points.' Back that up with positive reinforcement when you see certain guys doing what they need to be doing or what they are supposed to be doing it and how they are coached.
"It's all about being precise. Once you match and marry both of those together, every day you're going in and you're depositing. You're leaving something. You're dead tired, exhausted. I guarantee you after making the deposits throughout the week, you will be able to make a withdrawal on Sunday. It may not equate to a win, but what it will equate to is great football play by every individual in that locker room. That's how you salvage the season."
This isn't where the 49ers thought they would be. Hammered by injuries and about to watch their season go down the drain, they have to find a way to rally Sunday against a red-hot Rams team and get their season going in the right direction.
The defense has been a shell of its former self. Without Nick Bosa, Richard Sherman, Solomon Thomas and Kwon Alexander, the unit was gashed by Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins, and lacks the requisite playmakers to control the game on that side of the ball.
Everything now falls on Jimmy Garoppolo and the offense. Garoppolo returned from a high ankle sprain in Week 5 and played poorly before being benched at halftime. He was favoring his bum foot and his throws were off target. The 49ers paid Garoppolo handsomely to be the guy. He was solid last season. When on the field this season he's been below average. That's not going to cut it with a defense that is struggling to make plays and get off the field.
Shanahan needs to find a way to scheme the 49ers some early big plays and ratchet up the energy level against a Rams team that is looking to deliver a knockout punch.
The 49ers can still salvage the season, but it's going to take everyone buying in and believing 2-3 isn't a death sentence.
Programming note: Takeo Spikes will be making his debut on "49ers Pregame Live" and "49ers Postgame Live" on Nov. 1