Not pulling Jonathan Taylor out of the game after the early fumble
We have seen how Frank Reich reacts to early-game mistakes. He usually just pulls the player out of the game completely. This was not the case with Jonathan Taylor. The superstar running back went on to record 17 more carries, and he made the most of them, tallying 107 yards and a score. Taylor looked good against a tough front, in weather that allowed the defense to key on the run.
It is great to see Reich finally recognizing his best offensive player.
Deep shots to Michael Pittman Jr.
The most pleasant surprise this season has been the emergence of Michael Pittman Jr. as the number one receiver on this team. Yesterday, MPJ caught all 4 of his targets for 105 yards and the final score to seal the game. He also drew a couple of long pass interference flags. Through just 7 games, MPJ now has more yards, touchdowns, and 1st downs than his entire rookie season.
Adjustments in run defense
Running back Elijah Mitchell got 5 carries for 57 yards and a score in the first drive of the game. If we take into account the first two drives by the 49ers’ offense those numbers go to 6 carries for 69 yards. After that, Mitchell managed to get just 38 yards on 12 carries, so Eberflus and his defense made proper adjustments to stop the bleeding.
Giving Reed more snaps than Glowinski
While longtime right guard Mark Glowinski has been struggling a lot this year, being among the worst guards in the NFL, backup Chris Reed filled in admirably for the injured Quenton Nelson. With Nelson returning, many fans feared that Reed was going to be relegated to the bench once again, but in the end, Reed got 44 snaps yesterday compared to Glowinski’s 24.
Banogu’s 0 snaps
Considering just how terrible the Colts’ edge rushers have been all season long, the lack of snaps former second-round pick Ben Banogu has been getting is baffling. After what was supposedly a great camp, and an impressive preseason, Banogu has gotten just 48 snaps this entire season. Banogu was also relatively productive with those snaps, getting 3 hurries and a hit on just 39 pass-rushing reps.
Defense coming out unprepared
While I already gave credit to the adjustments made, the way the defense came out to play in a primetime game was inexcusable. The Colts have been struggling this season during the first defensive drives of the game. Against good teams, getting down early is not a recipe for success.
Failure to adjust to misdirection plays
The Niners killed the Colts with misdirection runs and play-action passes, as has been the case with the Colts defense this entire season. While Al Quadin-Muhammad is playing better, it still exasperates me how he gets so confused when opposing offenses run a misdirection play his direction — it is a guaranteed 5 yards and perhaps even more. The linebackers and secondary have also been a step too slow reacting to such plays. What is most worrying is that the Colts must have known that the Niners are a play-action, misdirection team, so not being prepared to stop that is not a good look.