By Sam McPherson
Brace yourself for some ugly statistics: The San Francisco 49ers are dead last in the National Football League in points per game (14.0) and yards per game (286.2). This is somewhat unthinkable for the franchise that gave us Joe Montana and Steve Young, Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens, Roger Craig and Frank Gore, five Super Bowl championships and countless high-scoring victories over 33 seasons of football at Candlestick Park from 1981 to 2013.READ MORE: Belmont Neighborhood Search For Aggressive Mountain Lion
Former starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick wasn’t getting the job done, despite possessing a universally agreed-upon physical skill set unlike any other QB in the NFL. His 78.5 QB rating his season is the worst of his career, and it landed Kaepernick on the bench. Now, the 49ers are starting a quarterback (Blaine Gabbert) with a career 67.1 QB rating, because the team figured it couldn’t do any worse than it already was doing on offense.
Don’t let Gabbert’s presence as the starting QB in San Francisco’s 17-16 win over the Atlanta Falcons last weekend fool you. The 49ers’ offensive woes are not solved. Wins are nice, of course, and they can hide all sorts of ugly warts on a team’s roster. However, even the worst teams in the NFL win between two and four games over the course of the season, and with a 3-6 record right now, the 49ers are still within that range of “bad” this season.
The team has the week off for its annual bye, with a road game against the Seattle Seahawks looming on the horizon in Week 11. While the 49ers have posted a decent 3-2 record at Levi’s Stadium in 2015, they are 0-4 away from home—and three of those games have been blowouts by halftime. San Francisco has to make sure that doesn’t happen this time around, and the offense will need to make some noise in the first 30 minutes at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
The 49ers have totaled just 22 points in the first halves of four games on the road this season. For whatever reason, San Francisco has not been ready for their road games, although the team has scored 36 points in the second halves of those games—a slight improvement, depending on your point of view.READ MORE: Three Of Tonga’s Smaller Islands Badly Damaged By Tsunami; Concerns Mount Within Bay Area Tongan Community
For San Francisco to have a chance in Seattle on November 22, the 49ers offense will need healthy players at key positions to support Gabbert: Wide receiver Anquan Boldin and running back Carlos Hyde. Both missed the Falcons game, and Gabbert still was able to lead the S.F. offense to an above-average point total.
Boldin leads the team with 31 receptions this year, despite missing the last two games with a bad hamstring injury. No other receiver on the team has more than 18 catches. Boldin has been the team’s best receiver since joining the 49ers for the 2013 season, and without him, any QB on this team would struggle. Boldin is as tough as they come in the NFL, and that makes it even more impressive that Gabbert was able to get the team the points he did against Atlanta.
Meanwhile, Hyde took over the RB position from Gore this season, and in Week 1, he ran for 168 yards against the Minnesota Vikings. However, since then, Hyde has rushed for just 302 yards in six other games combined. He has been nursing nicks and bruises, while a foot injury has cost him two games as well. The former Ohio State star is electric on the field when 100 percent healthy, and the 49ers would like to see him get back to that place, of course.
Trading away tight end Vernon Davis didn’t hurt the 49ers. San Francisco has two TEs capable of taking that position and running away with it just fine. Garrett Celek and Vance McDonald have combined for 26 catches, 215 yards and three touchdowns this season. Davis is always was underperforming and somewhat of a head case; the team could actually be better without him.
However, the team doesn’t have the same depth at WR or RB: The 49ers need Boldin and Hyde to get healthy this week if they’re going to put up any sort of fight over the final seven games of the season. After this bye week, we will see what Gabbert, Boldin and Hyde can do together in Seattle. That also will tell the S.F. organization exactly what kind of hand it’s playing with as it prepares for next year.MORE NEWS: Splash Brothers Curry, Thompson Lead Warriors Past Pistons, 102-86
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball, golf, hockey and fantasy sports for CBS, AXS and Examiner. He also is an Ironman triathlete and certified triathlon coach.