SANTA CLARA (AP) — The San Francisco 49ers have taken possession 21 times in two games this season and been stopped short of the end zone each time.
That’s not quite what they expected when they hired Kyle Shanahan as head coach after he led the league’s most productive offense a year ago for Atlanta.
Despite those struggles to start the season, the 49ers (0-2) are trying to stay positive heading into Thursday night’s game against the Los Angeles Rams when they will try to avoid joining the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1976 and the 1943 Brooklyn Dodgers as the only teams in history to go three straight games to start a season without a touchdown.
“Getting frustrated isn’t going to help us score touchdowns,” receiver Pierre Garcon said. “It’s just going to make everyone else frustrated and slow down the process. We have to have the right attitude and move forward.”
The 49ers have 11 punts, four field goals, three turnovers and three failed fourth-down attempts on their 21 drives as they have been dealing with an adjustment to a new offense and the addition of several new players.
They have little time this week to work on those issues with a Thursday game giving them only one practice before facing the Rams.
“There’s something to be said about new scheme and all that stuff,” left tackle Joe Staley said. “This scheme has definitely proven to be successful. It’s nothing schematic-wise. We just have to perform better up front and perform better as an offense as a whole and do a better job of making plays when they’re there.”
After getting beat 23-3 in the opener against Carolina, the Niners showed some progress last week in a 12-9 loss at Seattle thanks to a productive running game led by Carlos Hyde. San Francisco ran for 159 yards, including 124 from Hyde , and averaged 8.4 yards per carry against a usually stout Seahawks defense.
The problem was Brian Hoyer and the passing game couldn’t get anything going. Hoyer went 15 for 27 for 99 yards and an interception against Seattle and ranks near the bottom of the league in several statistics.
His 4.7 yards per attempt are second lowest, his 60.7 rating is third worst and he ranks last in generating first downs on just 20.3 percent of his pass plays.
“For us, it’s just going out and executing. Starting with the quarterback and everywhere else down the line. Every position,” Hoyer said.
“I think the one thing about offense is you can have a great play and if one guy is off by just a fraction of an inch it could be the difference. I think we all have to, especially starting with me, just go out and execute a lot better.”
Hoyer has struggled particularly in getting the ball downfield to receivers such as Garcon and the speedy Marquise Goodwin. He is just 2 for 13 (15.4 percent) for 26 yards and an interception on passes traveling more than 10 yards past the line, according to SportRadar.
Hoyer has been hurt by a couple of key drops by Goodwin but barely even looked deep against Seattle, throwing just four passes more than 10 yards downfield.
“We had a couple shots early and the protection didn’t hold up and it’s basically what they are giving to you,” Shanahan said.
“If you sit back and try to make a living in Seattle versus that pass rush of dropping back deep and just trying to throw deep balls, they are going to lead to a lot more sacks and turnovers than you are deep plays.
“Our goal is to win the game. We tried to call a game and put a game plan together that gave us a chance to win the game at the end. We didn’t think going deep all the time was the best way to do that.”