As journalists, we are taught not to use emotional words and rather just report what is happening. Well, I feel as if what I am saying is reporting. The past two outings for the 49ers against Florida Atlantic and Western Kentucky have been rough, to say the least. Will Healy has said things that would concur with that statement.
Let’s dig our heels in and look at things that need to be changed come Saturday, and maybe even beyond, to help get the team going back in the right direction.
Number One: Better communication
It appears that communication, especially on defense, is lacking. On occasions during the past few games, miscommunication in the secondary about who is supposed to defend who has bitten the 49ers giving up big plays in crucial times.
For instance, in the second half of the Western Kentucky game, the 49ers had the Hilltoppers in a third and long situation; one of the defensive backs did not seem to know what his job was on the play, and it led to a big conversion for the Hilltoppers. Moving forward, the 49ers must clean up on errors like this if they hope to finish the season strong.
It starts with the leaders of the defense, Luke Martin and Tyler Murray.
These two are the foundation of the defense being elders of the team. It is on their shoulders to call out coverages and make sure that the younger guys know what they are supposed to do on every play.
Once the team starts communicating better, then it should lead to better results on the field, because the last two weeks have seemed very off in the communication department.
Number Two: Checking Egos at the door
It is no question that when big egos are injected into the system of any team that the chemistry will lack. This has seemed to be an issue from my vantage point as of late. With the recent absence of Jon Alexander, a lot of questions have been raised lately as it regards to his status with the team. That question is still left unanswered.
The team has to play together, it is that simple. Without the cohesiveness, it will be very tough to win games and even a bowl game if they can get to that point. Everyone needs to realize that football is not a one-man show by any means. Once they learn that, they will be much better off.
Number Three: Second half adjustments are a must
Back-to-back second-half shutouts. That sentence alone should raise a gambit of red flags. Without getting in-depth in all the numbers, because I am sure by now most people reading this will have seen the second-half stats of the 49ers’ losses. Let’s just say the second-half’s have not been friendly to the 49ers in their losses this season.
This is an area where Healy should evaluate what the offensive coordinator is doing at halftime. When the opposing team is able to shut a team out in the second half, it does not boast well for the adjustments being made at halftime.
Whether it is on the offensive or defensive side, both should be evaluated, because the team is giving up the majority of their points in the second half of games. The players cannot hang their heads on a bad series or a bad play, and it seems like they have been doing that, whether or not that is the gospel truth or not.
If the team can fix these problems and get things going back the way they were at the start of the season, there is still hope that the team can make a bowl game. They are going into the easiest part of their schedule with the remaining opponents combining for a losing record, so all hope is not lost.
It will be on the shoulders of coach Healy and the message that he brings to his team. What is their mentality going to be heading into the last four contests of the season? That question will be answered in the few short weeks ahead.