SANTA CLARA – Coach Kyle Shanahan kicked off the 49ers’ bye week with a film review of their third straight loss, and it showed some alarming features.
That included the scary way quarterback Brock Purdy’s head bounced off the Levi’s Stadium grass with 1 1/2 minutes to go, and only a day after Purdy cleared the NFL’s concussion protocol from the 49ers’ previous game.
“It was a scare when you see the tape, or when I saw the tape, but in talking to him after the game and today, he’s been totally fine,” Shanahan said on Monday’s media call, in the wake of their 31-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
When it came to the 49ers’ defense, Shanahan found something that factored into the toxic combination of missed tackles, blown coverages and a pass rush that couldn’t stop the Bengals’ Joe Burrow from entering halftime with 19 consecutive completions on his 28-of-32 day that featured three touchdowns.
“What sticks out the most on tape was how slow and tired I thought we looked,” Shanahan said of the defense. “When that happens, it leads to bigger holes, it leads to more mistakes, it leads to missed tackles.
“I could see on tape a different type of energy that was disappointing. But I also know that they needs this rest. That showed the most.”
The 49ers (5-3) will report back to work Tuesday for meetings and workouts, then be dismissed for the bye week, aside from players who must rehabilitate injuries, including linebacker Dre Greenlaw (shoulder sprain), left guard Aaron Banks (turf toe) and left tackle Trent Williams (ankle). The team will regroup Monday in advance of their next game, Sunday, Nov. 12, at the AFC South-leading Jacksonville Jaguars (6-2).
Banks is expected to miss a few weeks, after getting hurt on the 49ers’ second-to-last drive. Greenlaw’s shoulder injury has hindered him for weeks, Shanahan acknowledged, but it is not expected to sideline him long, if at all. Williams is expected to resume practicing next week after a two-game hiatus, and the same could be the case with wide receiver Deebo Samuel, who’s recovering from a shoulder fracture.
Purdy’s health, of course, deserves special magnification, if not for his position as the starting quarterback but more so for having experienced concussion symptoms on last Monday night’s flight home from their loss in Minnesota.
Purdy had already thrown two interceptions in the previous 15 minutes before landing hard on a hit from D.J. Reader, who drew a roughing-the-passer penalty to negate a would-be third interception. Purdy was sacked and lost a fumble on the next snap.
“It was just the typical whiplash of a play like that, you know, head goes back, hits the ground,” Purdy said after Sunday’s game. “But it’s like any other body part, you get hit and shake it off a little bit. So, I’m good from that.”
A three-game losing streak will keep general manager John Lynch busy leading up to Tuesday’s 1 p.m. NFL trade deadline, after working on potential deals the past month; the 49ers did trade for defensive end Randy Gregory on Oct. 6.
“It doesn’t sound like there’s a lot of options,” Shanahan said. “It doesn’t mean for sure no. We’ll look all the way up to the deadline.”
Competition in the NFC West also could cajole them to buy again. The Seattle Seahawks, who leapfrogged the 49ers on Sunday into first place in the NFC West, swung a trade Monday that imports defensive lineman Leonard Williams from the New York Giants.
Deal or no deal, the 49ers are not one player away from remedying their ills. At least not one player from another team, although a cornerback seems like the most logical target while an offensive or defensive lineman wouldn’t be a surprise, either.
A year ago, the 49ers edged the Los Angeles Rams in a trade for McCaffrey from the Carolina Panthers. McCaffrey, following Sunday’s loss, insisted that the 49ers (5-3) already have in-house assets to reverse course. He pointed to last season’s turnaround from 3-4 one week after he arrived to winning their next 12 games to reach the NFC Championship Game.
“We were 3-4. I didn’t sense an inch of panic,” McCaffrey recalled. “It was a team hungry to win, who knew they could win, and we did just that, then just kept chopping wood. Now we’re 5-3 coming into a bye, with the right guys. This is a tough league. We’ve got the right guys to get everything fixed.”
Other October acquisitions: veteran wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (2019), defensive end Jordan Willis (2020), defensive lineman Charles Omenihu (2021). The 49ers’ 2024 draft chest includes picks in every round except the fifth and sixth, with an extra selection in both the fourth and seventh rounds, and not including compensatory picks that will be rewarded after the season.
BOSA PLAYS ALL SNAPS
Nick Bosa played every defensive snap for the first time in 59 career games. In Sunday’s 63-snap shift, Bosa shared a sack (with Clelin Ferrell), had two quarterback hits and two tackles.
“We didn’t feel there was any time we wanted to take him off, and he seemed up for the challenge,” Shanahan said.
Bosa’s three sacks this season are the fewest of his career through eight games, excluding the 2020 season that ended with a Week 2 knee injury. Bosa had 9 ½ sacks through eight games last year en route to an NFL-best 18 ½.
KITTLE’S HISTORIC MOVE
Tight end George Kittle now ranks first among 49ers all-time tight ends with 5,697 receiving yards. His 149 yards Sunday (nine receptions) vaulted him past previous leader Vernon Davis (5,640 yards). Brent Jones (5,195) is the only other tight end in 49ers history with over 3,000 yards. Next on the list: Monty Stickles (2,993) and Ted Kwalick (2,555).
With Brandon Aiyuk totaling 109 yards (five catches), the 49ers had two players with over 100 receiving yards in a game for the first time since 2012, when Davis and Michael Crabtree did so against the Buffalo Bills.
Shanahan said he’ll confer privately with defensive coordinator Steve Wilks about potentially moving him to the sideline from the coaches’ booth. Wilks’ predecessors, Robert Saleh and DeMeco Ryans, both called games from the sideline.
“If he felt it would help him, it’s something we’ll try but we haven’t done that yet,” Shanahan said.
OTHER SNAP COUNTS
Offensively, all five linemen played every snap, including left tackle Jaylon Moore in his second straight start in place of Williams. Christian McCaffrey, after playing all 53 snaps in Monday night’s loss at Minnesota, played 57-of-59 Sunday.
Also playing every defensive snap Sunday: Fred Warner, Talanoa Hufanga, Tashaun Gipson Sr., Charvarius Ward and Deommodore Lenoir.
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QUIRKY BYE SCHEDULE
Two of the 49ers’ three losses are against teams coming off bye weeks (the Browns, the Bengals), and two more such games await: Nov. 12 at Jacksonville (both teams have Week 9 byes), and Dec. 17 at Arizona.
Yes, it’s unusual to face four teams coming off bye weeks, their most under Shanahan, whose teams are now 3-6 in regular-season action vs. bye-rested teams.
In 2017, the 49ers started 0-9, and three of those final four losses were against teams off bye weeks. They lost to the bye-rested Giants in 2018, then won 2019 home games against the Panthers and the Packers. None of their 2020 or ’21 opponents were coming off byes, and last year’s lone matchup was a road win at the Rams.
Overall this season, teams are 7-5 off their bye week. Under Shanahan, the 49ers are 3-3 after regular-season byes.