The New York Giants face the reeling San Francisco 49ers Sunday night at MetLife Stadium. Let's get some thoughts on what is happening with the 49ers from David Fucillo of SB Nation's Niners Nation in this week's "Five questions" segment.
Ed: What is going on with Colin Kaepernick? Has he regressed that much? Was he never as good as folks like Ron Jaworski wanted to make him out to be? Is he still the future at QB for San Francisco? What do we make of the guy?
David Fucillo: It's been an ugly two weeks for Colin Kaepernick. He had a pretty under-the-radar opener, and then actually showed some things in a Week 2 blowout loss. However, Weeks 3 and 4 were arguably the two worst performances of his NFL career. The "blame" can rest on many shoulders. Kap made some incredibly poor decisions against the Cardinals, resulting in four interceptions. He then seemed to over-compensate the next week against the Packers, and under-threw a lot of passes. He seems tentative, and just missing that something extra that was so huge earlier in his career.
But blame can also go to the offensive line. Kap has been pressured quite a bit, and the right side of the line has been fairly abysmal. There are times Kap does have plenty of time, but there are too many times the line just gets run over. The play-calling has had its question marks as well, such as not utilizing Torrey Smith more, but I think a lot of it comes back to the offensive line.
As for comments by Jaws, I think people have taken those a little too far. He definitely was over the top, but I think he was saying Kap had amazing tools that could lead to greatness. Kap does have amazing tools, but he is struggling to put it all together. He projects confidence, but there are concerns given his performance lately. He is clearly far away from being anything close to great, but there are unique skills.
Ed: Giants fans will hate me for the reference, but the Jim Tomsula situation in San Francisco sort of reminds me of the unfortunate tenure of Ray Handley replacing Bill Parcells with the Giants back in the 1990s. What are your thoughts on Tomsula?
David: People like Jim Tomsula. He's a nice, funny guy. He seems to have the players' best interests at heart. But at times he seems to be in over his head. It's impossible to know exactly what he's like in the locker room, but his presentation to the public is not always ideal. He will bounce between ideas in press conferences, and just sort of meander around. We hear him talking about not wanting to emotionally react to problems and make changes in the lineup, but it comes across as not wanting to move on from starters that just aren't cutting it.
The biggest negative about Tomsula is the perception that he is basically a yes-man for GM Trent Baalke and owner Jed York. He seems like a confident individual, but he was hand-picked to replace Jim Harbaugh. We don't know exactly what control he had in selecting his coaching staff, but he has an OC in Geep Chryst who had two years of OC experience with the Chargers during the Ryan Leaf years, and a DC in Eric Mangini, who's career as a DC is not exactly spectacular. He's got a lot of coaching experience on his staff, but it just doesn't seem to be particularly good.
Ed: The 49ers are averaging a ridiculous 12 points a game and have been outscored 107-28 in their last three games. Have they really been that awful?
David: Yep. In Weeks 2 and 3, the defense was atrocious, getting thrashed by the Steelers and Cardinals. It felt like Mangini's disguises were leaving 49ers defenders well out of position to make plays. In Weeks 3 and 4, the offense was absolutely abysmal. The offensive line has been struggling much of the season, and Kap is in a bad funk. The defense rebounded well in Week 4, holding Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to 17 points, but the offense did absolutely nothing.
There are several problems. The most notable is the significant roster turnover. The second is significant changes in scheme. It seems like Mangini might have a good idea of what works at this point, so the defense has some kind of momentum. Unfortunately, the offensive side of the ball is as much about talent on the offensive line, and there is only negative momentum right now.
Ed: Tell us about some of the young players for the 49ers we might not know much about but should be aware of on Sunday.
David: Second-year running back Carlos Hyde took over for Frank Gore, and is off to a strong start. His rushing totals are not great since a big Week 1, but he is among the league leaders in broken tackles. He has been hit in the backfield more than most backs thanks to the awful offensive line, but still manages to find ways to get positive yards.
The pass rush will be led by second year outside linebacker Aaron Lynch. Ahmad Brooks will miss the game due to a death in the family, so Lynch is the lead pass rusher. The fifth round pick had a strong rookie campaign, and is off to a solid start in year two. The 49ers will send him off the edge in their nickel.
Ed: Of all of the players who retired or left via free agency, which guy or guys do the 49ers miss most?
David: I think the losses of Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati, and injury to Daniel Kilgore are the biggest losses. Iupati was not a surprise departure, but Davis's retired shocked everybody, and Kilgore's ankle injury from 2014 landed him on PUP to start this season. The 49ers offensive line has been atrocious, and that is as big a problem as anything. Kap has had problems, but not having a steady offensive line has been the biggest problem in my mind. Right now, Kap needs a stable offensive line to do what he is capable of doing at this point in his career.
Losing guys like Justin Smith, Patrick Willis, Chris Culliver, Perrish Cox and Frank Gore were bad, but they are just not on the level of what losing offensive linemen has meant for the state of this offense.
Thanks to "Fooch" for the time and the insight. Play nice with 49ers fans when you stop by Niners Nation.