After their Week 1 win over the Green Bay Packers where Colin Kaepernick threw for a career high of 412 yards and had three passing touchdowns in a game where Anquan Boldin had 13 receptions for 208 yards and a touchdown, it appeared that the San Francisco 49ers were going to be fine without injured Michael Crabtree. After the 49ers’ 27-7 loss to the Indianapolis Colts here in Week 3, it is clear the current unit is just not capable of filling his void.
In their 29-3 loss to the Seattle Seahawks last week, the 49ers’ offense as a unit was just ineffective and played a bad game. Heading into the game against the Colts, it was assumed that the 49ers would be able to have a bounce back game on offense. In particular, the wide receiver unit had a game against the Seahawks as they were unable to get any separation from the Seattle cornerbacks. It was presumed given that the Seahawks’ secondary is considered the best unit in the league they would find it easier to play better against the Colts.
Well, that certainly did not happen as the same issues and bad play from against the Seahawks was on display in Candlestick this Sunday afternoon. The 49ers’ wide receivers once again — whether it be Kyle Williams, Marlon Moore, or Quinton Patton — were unable to get separation from a Colts cornerback. As a result, this allowed the Colts to be able to double cover Anquan Boldin. At the half, Colin Kaepernick had completed two passes for 38 yards passing, a clear signal that he was having a tough day through the air since his wide receivers were not effective at all.
Given all this the 49ers still had a chance to win the game if the passing attack improved could step up. But this was not to happen as Kaepernick was not able to complete many passes to open receivers, and those he did complete were to Boldin or one of the running backs on dump off passes on third and long. In the end of the game, Kaepernick had 13 completions on 27 attempts with five of the seven pass completions to wide receivers having been thrown to Anquan Boldin.
Some might make the argument that the absence of Vernon Davis made it tough for the 49ers’ wide receivers to have a good game, but that excuse carries no weight given that Davis played last week against the Seahawks and the wide receivers as a unit struggled. It is clear that the wide receiver unit without Michael Crabtree is weak, and the Week 1 display against the Packers was a mirage.
It is clear that the 49ers’ offensive coaches are going to have to do things in order to help the wide receivers be able to get off the line better as they have proven incapable of getting separation running routes in general. In addition, it may require lining up a healthy LaMichael James at wide receiver in order to somehow get another player out wide to see if this helps free up and give the 49ers’ wide receivers a chance to get off the line. Whatever the answer is, it’s clear that if the receivers don’t play better as a unit, them being a part of the reason the 49ers lose a game will be commonplace.