San Francisco 49ers fans were all gasping when Jimmy Garoppolo tried to fight for that extra yard against Kansas City, only to tear his ACL and is now lost for the rest of 2018. To the casual fan, they may think that the season is over and there is no shot at a playoff berth. Now that may be the case, but it is not as clear cut as some may think.
In steps the second year quarterback out of Iowa, C.J. Beathard. Beathard replaced Brian Hoyer last season and took a serious beating behind a poor offensive line. This season, Beathard will have better protection and also a great running game to relieve some of the pressure.
Beathard will have a tough test in his first game as he travels to Los Angeles to face a strong Chargers team. Don’t let the 1-2 record fool you because this team is going to be tough to beat.
Philip Rivers is playing at a high level as he always does, Melvin Gordon is becoming one of the premier running backs in the league, and second-year receiver Mike Williams is finally showing the abilities that led him to become the seventh overall pick last season. This will be a difficult task for the 49ers defense to handle as they are without Richard Sherman for a couple weeks, due to a hamstring injury. The secondary needs to step up in a big way to keep the 49ers in the game and prevent Rivers from dissecting the defense like a surgeon.
It’s no secret that the 49ers are behind the eight-ball coming into Los Angeles. Losing their starting quarterback will be hard to overcome, but not impossible. If the 49ers can accomplish these few things here, they can put themselves in the best opportunity to get a win. Here are some key points on what they can do, to possibly escape Los Angeles with a victory and get back to .500.
Jimmy G, We Hardly Knew Ye
Garoppolo got to play in all of three games this season before suffering a season-ending injury. This means the backup quarterback, Beathard, will need to come in and rally the troops. This is not a time to feel sorry and think the season is lost. The 2018 campaign is still very young and you never can count anyone out.
The 49ers have suffered two crucial blows to their offense now after losing Garoppolo last week and Jerick McKinnon before the year began. The biggest thing the 49ers can do is support Beathard and know that the season is not over. They still have a creative play-caller in Kyle Shanahan and based on how Matt Breida has stepped up for the loss of McKinnon, we know that Beathard will hope to mirror that same success, replacing Garoppolo.
San Francisco currently has 26 penalties through three games, including 17 on the road. The 49ers had a good opportunity to pull off the win against the Chiefs last week, but the penalties were one of the big factors as to why they let Kansas City jump out to a huge lead early. Keeping the penalties under control in this road game against the Chargers can become a big difference maker.
Los Angeles has been able to keep things under control with only 17 total flags through three weeks and only seven at home. If the 49ers want to pull off the upset in the StubHub Center, they need to ensure they are well-disciplined on both sides of the ball.
Back To Basics
Not only did the flags prevent the 49ers from winning in Kansas City last week, but the tackling was very poor as well. They missed 17 tackles last week against the Chiefs and have missed 43 total in three weeks. Those missed tackles make a difference between letting a team keep a drive going and settling for a punt. The tackling needs to get better if they want to stay competitive this year. With proper technique, San Francisco can prevent Los Angeles from sustaining long drives and this can lead to more opportunities for Beathard and the offense to get points on the board.
Losing Garoppolo for the entire year is going to be a tough hurdle to overcome. Now Beathard is no slouch and the play-calling will really help put Beathard in a position to succeed. Kyle Shanahan should be able to dial up a good game against the Chargers. The game should be a lot closer than a lot of people think it will be, but the Chargers will still find a way to make a late surge to pull out a victory.
Rivers and the Chargers offense is pretty lethal and the 49ers defense will be over-matched trying to contain it. Beathard will give 49ers faith for the rest of season, but it may not be enough to stop LA from getting another notch in the win column.
Game Facts To Keep In Mind
- One difference between C.J. Beathard and Jimmy Garoppolo is his running ability. Beathard was second on the team in rushing touchdowns last season, scoring three touchdowns in only seven games.
- Through three games, the Chargers are tied for third in touchdown scoring drives in the first half. That number drops to 18th in the second half. The 49ers, on the other hand, are tied for 22nd in touchdown scoring drives in the first half and it jumps to seventh in the second half.
- On only 32 attempts through three games, Matt Breida is tied for second in the league in rushing yards with 274 and is leading the league in 20+ yard rushes with six. The Chargers are currently allowing 120.3 yards per game rushing, which is ninth worst in the league.
Final Score Prediction: Chargers 31, 49ers 24