For Derek Carr, it’s been the best of times. For Brian Hoyer … well, you know the rest.
Through two weeks of the NFL season, the Bay Area’s teams have taken divergent paths. The Raiders appear to be legitimate contenders, and the 49ers should expect to be picking in the top 10 of next season’s draft — even by the most conservative estimate.
Quality of opposing defenses should be considered, yet it’s hard to ignore how well things have been going for Carr, while Hoyer might be looking at a spot on the bench if he can’t change his fate tonight against the Los Angeles Rams.
Carr was able to spend his Wednesday answering questions about what it took for him to have his best completion percentage last week, when he connected on 23 of his 28 attempts. (Hint: He credited his teammates).
A day earlier, Hoyer had to make his case for how his experience being benched in the past should help him this season.
“First of all, you don’t listen to [the criticism inherent with being an NFL quarterback],” he told reporters. “You worry about what your coaches are trying to teach you, trying to help you get better. Just keep getting better, really.”
There’s plenty of room for him to improve, too. Hoyer is sporting a 60.7 passer rating — good for 31st-best in the league, ahead of only a Cleveland Browns signal-caller and Andy Dalton.
Playing against two typically great defenses in the Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks, Hoyer has managed a league-worst 4.71 yards per attempt and hasn’t met expectations of being a game manager who can connect on downfield passes.
This is where I stress against jumping to conclusions from small sample sizes, sports fans. Last season, the Seahawks had a top-five defense, according to most worthwhile statistics — and they’re even better at home. Meanwhile, the Panthers, when at full-strength, have one of the most fearsome linebacking corps in the league.
The other side of the coin is that Carr faced the New York Jets, who have no apparent desire to win this season, and the Tennessee Titans, a group that allowed 269 passing yards per game last season. That figure is worse than what the 49ers allowed.
Regression to the norm — both positive and negative, respectively — are due for both sides. It’d be best to not jump to hasty conclusions in the meantime.