San Francisco 49ers: At Least Someone is Optimistic About This Team

Aug 14, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aaron Lynch (59) holds onto his shoe after it came off during action against the Houston Texans in the third quarter at Levi
Aug 14, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aaron Lynch (59) holds onto his shoe after it came off during action against the Houston Texans in the third quarter at Levi /

The San Francisco 49ers are having an awful season and things look bleak for the foreseeable future, but at least someone is still optimistic.

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It’s hard to be optimistic about anything related to the San Francisco 49ers these days. The red and gold team sits at 1-6 on the year. They’ve lost each and every one of the six games they’ve played since an opening week, shutout victory over the Los Angeles Rams. They are dead last in the NFC West, and the only thing keeping them from having the worst record in the NFL are the Cleveland Browns and their imperfect record.

The roster is clearly lacking in talent. The front office has proven they have no idea what they’re doing. They keep coming up empty in the draft. So what, exactly, is there to be optimistic about?

Well, just ask Aaron Lynch.

Following the 49ers’ loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, where they blew an early 14-0 lead, the third-year defensive end/outside linebacker had some high praise for his team:

"“We have the team. We possibly have one of the best teams in the NFL, easily. Hands down. We need to know how to keep finishing games and work together throughout the whole game. Once we get that down, nobody’s going to be able to mess with us.”"

That’s right! Hands down, easily, the 49ers have one of the best teams in the entire NFL, in Lynch’s world. Maybe Lynch knows something we don’t, because the numbers certainly don’t back up that sentiment.

The 49ers have the worst offense in the NFL, gaining a league-low 290 yards per game. They come up a bit better in scoring, but not much. Their 20.6 points per contest is 23rd. Things are pretty bad on the other side of the ball as well. They are second-worst in the NFL in both defensive yardage (407.6 yards allowed per game) and defensive scoring (31.3 points). Their -75 point differential in also second-worst.

And then there was Sunday’s game, the game after which Lynch made his assertions.  The 49ers came out firing, and maybe for a split second they at least looked like a very good team. They took a 14-0 lead into the second quarter, and it was all downhill from there.

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The Buccaneers racked up a ridiculous 212 yards in the second quarter, and outscored San Francisco 17-0 to turn a 14-point deficit into a three-point lead. In the first half, the Bucs gained 307 total yards, the second time in the last 25 years they’ve gained more than 300 yards in a first half. It was the second time this season that the 49ers have allowed over 300 yards in a first half.

Tampa Bay running back Jacquizz Rodgers ran wild. He entered with a career-high of 101 rushing yards, which he set the previous week against the Carolina Panthers. He broke that mark in the first half alone, rushing for 110 yards before the break. He finished the day with 154 yards on the ground. His backup, undrafted rookie Peyton Barber, entered the day with three career carries for six yards. He ran for 84 yards on 12 carries against the 49ers.

When all was said and done, the 49ers allowed 513 yards to a Buccaneers’ team that came in averaging 325 yards. They were outscored 34-3 after the first quarter. Yikes.

Okay, calling Lynch “optimistic” is probably more than a bit kind. Maybe “delusional”, or “in denial”, or “downright insane” would be a more apt description. But he’s not alone in that thinking among 49ers’ players. Safety Eric Reid, while not speaking as highly as Lynch, also offered his own little glimmer of sunshine and rainbows.

"“I love this scheme. If everyone does their job, we shouldn’t get beat. But whenever there’s an explosive play, somebody is out of position. We just got to tighten up.”"

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The 49ers have a bye coming up, so they’ll have plenty of time to work on “finishing games and woking together”, and to “tighten up”. Good luck.