SANTA CLARA The 49ers are 1-4 and contemplating changes as they head into Sunday's game against a Buffalo team that is on a three-game winning streak. Here are five statistics that tell the story of the season so far.
5.93. That's quarterback Blaine Gabbert's average yards per pass attempt, which among the 42 quarterbacks with 20 or more pass attempts this season, ranks 41st. (Thursday opponent Drew Stanton averages 4.0 yards per attempt). That's likely a result of three things: 1.) Chip Kelly's offense emphasizes quick passes. 2.) The 49ers don't have a strong wide-receiving crew that can take those passes up the field and 3.) Gabbert prefers the shorter, safer throw over the riskier one down-field. A result of this issue: The 49ers lead the NFL with 32 punts.
Notable: Gabbert averaged 7.2 yards per attempt last season; Kelly's primary quarterback in Philadelphia, Sam Bradford, averaged 7.0 yards per attempt last year).
22.2. The 49ers are averaging 22.2 points a game, which is nothing to write home about. It ranks 18th in the NFL. But it's way better than the 15 points per game they averaged through five games a year ago. A lot of things are similar between the start of the Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly eras, including the respective records. But the current 49ers are doing a better job of getting into the end zone and otherwise scoring when they have chance. The 49ers rank 6th in red-zone efficiency when it comes to touchdowns (73.3 percent). Last year they ranked 31st (43.6 percent).
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Notable: A lot of these touchdowns have come in garbage time.
75.4. That's how many rushing yards Carlos Hyde averages per game, which ranks a respectable ninth in the NFL and puts him on pace to finish with 1,206 yards for the season. The problem is that the running game hasn't been consistent -- it looks good on some drives and terrible on others. Even in the third quarter of the Week 1 win against the Rams -- a time when a strong running game should be taking over the contest -- Hyde carried seven times for seven yards.
Notable: Hyde is tied with San Diego's Melvin Gordon for the league lead with six rushing touchdowns. Both teams have one win.
146.8. This may be the team's most critical defensive statistic. It's the average rushing yards the 49ers are allowing per game, which ranks 31st. The 49ers aren't ranked too poorly against the pass, giving up 223 yards a game, which is good for 10th. Indeed, the secondary appears to be the strength of the unit. But when opponents can run the ball as easily as they have, there's no need for a quarterback to have a prolific outing. Last year the 49ers were terrible at stopping the run, but gave up a 126.3-yard average.
Notable: The 49ers aren't giving up a lot of yards through the air, but their 10 touchdowns passes allowed are the 7th most and their eight sacks are tied the seventh fewest.
357. The 49ers have played more defensive snaps than any other team -- 357 through five games. (Note: Five teams already have had their bye and these stats were compiled before the Monday Night Game). This was cited as a problem as Kelly was leaving Philadelphia last year. Kelly's offenses are on and off the field so quickly, the defense ends up playing more snaps than a typical unit. Last year, the Eagles led the NFL in defensive snaps and some players complained at year's end that they ended up playing the equivalent to two or three extra games. San Francisco's 357 snaps are fewer than the 383 Philadelphia had through five games a year ago. And it's hard to say whether the high snap count is more closely related to three-and-out series by the 49ers offense (see: punt total) or the defense's inability to stop the run (see: rushing defense ranking). One more item to note: Because of injuries, suspensions and poor play, very few individuals have played close to the full compliment of snaps. (Eric Reid, Tramaine Brock and Antoine Bethea are the exceptions). That is, most players on the team have played a typical amount of snaps to date, though it will be something to monitor at year's end.