This is the record of Blaine Gabbert as a starter, and as a 49er starter. Don’t kid yourself, though. this was an eminently winnable game. At least in regards of our offense going against their defense. They are not very good against the pass. 19th in the league.
The surprise to me was the very stout defense vs a) the #1 rusher in the league in Devonta Freeman, b) the #1 wide receiver in Julio Jones, and c) the #5 overall offense in the league.
Granted, I do think our front line is solid and deep, so stopping Freeman isn’t that big a shock. Still, 12 yards in 12 carries IS a shock. That is flat dominating. My bigger concern was our makeshift cornerback situation. Dontae Johnson was bumped from his starting spot last year, and Marcus Cromartie was on the practice squad last week, as Tremaine Brock, Kenneth Acker, and Keith Reaser were all out due to injury. Throw in Antoine Bethea being out all year, and you have a very green defensive backfield. Although I will say Jaquiski Tartt is playing very well. As it was, 3rd year safety Eric Ried was the elder statesman out there.
Johnson and Cromartie both had very solid games and shut down a very potent offense. In fact the only blown play was near the end of the first half, when the Niners should have gone into a dime package, but instead ended up with NaVorro Bowman lined up against Julio Jones. The ensuing 54 yards pass to Jones set up Atlanta’s only TD to close the scoring in the 1st half. The 2nd half was the defense doing just enough to keep Atl (mostly) out of scoring range.
The Niners run game, while not outstanding, still did well for another squad built with spare parts on short notice. Shaun Draughn had 58 yards with a 30 yard scamper to set up Gabbert’s 2nd TD to Garrett (VD who?) Celek. They managed to rack up 133 yards on the ground (to Atl’s 17) to go with the 185 in the air. The Niners didn’t get a ton of pressure on Matty Ice, but the D line batted down a lot of passes, and Ryan wasn’t comfortable in the pocket. 2 sacks and 2 yards rushing tell the tale that the line did well containing him.
The good news in all this is the team is seeing a lot of young players step up and make plays. Unfortunately they all seem to be on defense. The offense didn’t help Gabbert with 6 drops. Jerome Simpson and Torrey Smith both had costly drive killing (and one turnover-creating) drops. Vance McDonald had a drop on the one pass Colin Kaepernick threw (and BTW, what a bunch of gutless fans who booed CK) as Gabbert was knocked from the game temporarily. Which would have been a 28 yard gain.
And finally, I have to wonder how much heat Atl’s head coach Dan Quinn is taking for kicking the FG with 3 minutes to play and facing a 4th and 1 from the 1. Sure, their defense was doing OK in the 2nd half, but on the road you have to go for the win. Very wimpy call.