The first quarter of the NFL season is complete, and the San Francisco 49ers stand at 1-3 and in the cellar of the NFC West. The 49ers got off to a hot start with a win over the Minnesota Vikings, but dropped three straight. The 49ers need to improve in several key areas, especially on offense, if they want to save their season. Here are five things that will decide the remainder of the 49ers' season.
5. Torrey Smith
The 49ers signed Smith away from the Baltimore Ravens to be the deep threat Colin Kaepernick has never had. Smith is averaging 20 yards per catch, which is what the team wants. However, Smith has only caught nine passes this season on 17 targets. That's not enough action for Smith. The 49ers need to find ways to get the ball in his hands.
The 49ers have a young secondary, especially at cornerback. The team is starting Kenneth Acker, a sixth round pick in 2014. Both Acker and young safety Eric Reid have struggled at times this season. Growing pains are expected, but the duo needs to develop as the season continues if the 49ers want to rebound this season.
3. Pass Rush
The 49ers have nine sacks this season, good enough to rank in the top half of the NFL. A third of that production has come from Aaron Lynch, who is on pace for a breakout season. The 49ers pass rush has been solid and the team needs it to continue that play, or even improve it, as the season goes on.
2. Ground Game
Carlos Hyde had a great first game, racking up 168 yards and two scores on 26 carries. However, he's been nearly invisible since then. Colin Kaepernick has actually led the team in rushing two of the last three weeks. The 49ers are fifth in the NFL in rushing yards per game, but that number is inflated by a 230-yard performance in Week 1. In fact, the 49ers' rushing totals have dropped each game, bottoming out at 77 last week. The 49ers must get their ground game going to make things easier on Colin Kaepernick and the offense.
1. Colin Kaepernick
The rest of the 49ers' season depends on how Kaepernick plays. His mobility hasn't changed, but it appears that Kaepernick has regressed as a pocket passer. His footwork and mechanics are off. As a result, he's completed 50 percent of his passes with 0 TDs and 5 picks in his last two games. However, he can still turn things around and he played well at times in the first two games. This is Kaepernick's team the rest of the season, because c'mon, the 49ers can't start Blaine Gabbert. If Kaepernick can't improve his play, the 49ers are in for a long season.Back to the San Francisco 49ers Newsfeed