San Francisco 49ers: Takeaways From Week One

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Improvement in 3rd Down Efficiency

Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco converted 58.3 percent of their third-down attempts (7 of 12) on Sunday. For comparison, the 49ers converted only 36.5 percent of such chances last year, which was the 18th-best percentage.

The 49ers were able to convert through the air despite playing without two of their five starting offensive lineman. Jonathan Martin started for the injured Anthony Davis and Joe Looney played for Alex Boone who missed the game after recently ending his holdout.

While it’ll be extremely difficult to continue to convert more than half of the time, Sunday was definitely encouraging.

Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not as if most of the conversions were third-and-short; San Francisco constantly converted through the air on third downs — quite a few were third and seven or longer.

Greg Roman’s play call — the 49ers’ offensive coordinator — seemed to favor the pass on not only third down, but also early downs. In fact, the 49ers didn’t attempt a run until early in the second quarter. We’re talking about the 49ers. The run-heavy offense that has always looked to pass first.

San Francisco scored three touchdowns (two offensively) before Gore touched the ball. Perhaps the 49ers are rightly adapting their style to fit their revamped offense.

When needing to thrown, Kaepernick would always look to his safety blanket: Boldin. Rarely was Kaepernick let down by Boldin as the two failed to connect only once on Sunday.

If the 49ers want to make up for the imminent defensive struggles (both NaVorro Bowman and Smith will miss plenty of time), they must continue to perform well on third downs. Sunday was certainly a step in the right direction.