Despite the 49ers’ last-place ranking in yards gained and points scored this season, coach Jim Tomsula on Friday said he thought Geep Chryst is doing a “nice job” as the team’s offensive coordinator.
As evidence, Tomsula pointed to Blaine Gabbert, who just a year ago was dismissed by league observers as a quarterback bust but who this year has managed an acceptable 90.7 passer rating in five starts. That rating would rank 19th overall in the NFL this year if he had the requisite number of passing attempts, landing Gabbert between Tennessee’s Marcus Mariota and Detroit’s Matthew Stafford.
“I think people outside of our hub, from my understanding, were surprised with what Blaine’s doing and how he’s progressing,” Tomsula said. The 49ers coach noted that Chryst was the team’s quarterbacks coach when Gabbert arrived last year. Tomsula also mentioned quarterbacks coach Steve Logan’s work with Gabbert this season.
Other statistics are not nearly as flattering for Chryst. The 49ers average 14.5 points a game, which is nearly three points a game lower than the 31st-ranked team, the St. Louis Rams. San Francisco is on pace to score 232 points in 2015; the all-time franchise low in a 16-game schedule is 219 points in 1978. The 49ers also have allowed a league-high 45 sacks this year while their first-down total (203) ranks second to last.
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The 49ers, of course, have lost a number of key pieces since the season began, including their top three running backs – Carlos Hyde, Reggie Bush and Mike Davis – as well as tight end Vernon Davis, who was traded to Denver.
“There’s a long list of excuses we could grab? OK?” Tomsula said. “... But I’m not going to and we’re not going to. We’ve had struggles on offense. We’ve seen some things improve on offense. We’ve seen individuals improve. Not consistent enough. Too much up and down. We’ve got to just keep that going up. But, in terms of the roster, every team in the NFL has players in and out of the lineup every week. So we have to overcome those and we have to perform on Sunday.”
That make-no-excuses sentiment differs from Chryst’s message. A day earlier, he was quick to point out that the 49ers built their offense around Hyde’s running and the team’s depth at tight end.
“We can’t use that,” he said. “We can’t use that because we don’t have three tight ends dressed out. We can’t use that because we don’t have Carlos Hyde. So any analysis of the offense starts with who are the people that you have and what do they do best and then can we put them in a position to execute.”
Smith practices – Wide receiver Torrey Smith, who missed Wednesday’s and Thursday’s practices, attended the start of Friday’s session and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against Cincinnati. Smith (back, toe) has not missed a game since entering the NFL in 2011.
“It’s pretty cool,” he said when asked about the importance of his streak. “I take a lot of pride in being available, which is half the battle in the NFL.”
He said he had to be “smart” with the injury but said the fact that the 49ers cannot make the playoffs would not determine whether he plays against Cincinnati. If his team had locked up a postseason berth? That might be a different situation, he said.
“I would want to make sure I was all-the-way ready to go” in the playoffs, he said.
Et cetera – Outside linebacker Aaron Lynch (concussion) practiced in a blue, noncontact jersey for the third consecutive day Friday. Tomsula said Lynch must pass one more post-concussion test and seemed optimistic the 49ers’ best pass rusher would play Sunday. Lynch officially is listed as questionable.
▪ The 49ers not only have avoided Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, who is out with a thumb injury, they also will not face Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert, who suffered a concussion in his most recent game. Eifert leads all tight ends this season with 12 touchdown catches.
▪ Outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks was fined $8,681 for striking Browns running back Isaiah Crowell in the head during the fourth quarter of last Sunday’s game.