SANTA CLARA — The way the 49ers see it, they’re just a few bounces away from being atop the NFC West instead of at the bottom. It’s hard to dispute that when they’ve lost three divisional games by a combined eight points.
“If one or two plays would have gone different, we’d be 3-1 and people would probably be hyping us up telling us that we’re something maybe more than we are,” head coach Kyle Shanahan said.
But, as anyone with a career in the NFL will tell you — to the point of making it cliche — pro football is a “results business.” And when the results start stacking against you, consequences follow.
That’s led to increasing speculation that quarterback Brian Hoyer will lose his starting job sooner than later.
Shanahan earlier this week said that rookie CJ Beathard taking over the first unit wasn’t imminent and that the whole team needs to play better — including, but not limited to, Hoyer.
“The one thing with us is, it’s not like we’re going out there and getting our butts kicked,” Hoyer said. “We’re moving the ball. We hurt ourselves with some penalties, some negative plays. But we can see what we’re capable of. We’ve just got to go out and do it.”
That’s been a theme in Santa Clara all season — that the right pieces are in place, they just have to keep focusing on the process and positive outcomes will follow.
But all indications show Hoyer has the support of the locker room.
One of the biggest knocks against him so far this season has been his body language after a dropped pass or when a blown assignment on the offensive line leads to a sack or QB hit.
When asked about it on Wednesday, veteran center Daniel Kilgore vehemently denied that Hoyer has a negative attitude or is hurting the team.
“I think that’s bullshit, honestly,” Kilgore said. “Brian has been the same guy, an uplifting and encouraging guy. He’s a journeyman, I guess you could call him, but he’s a pro’s pro. He knows the game very well, knows how to lead the offense and lead the team as a starting quarterback.”
Kilgore, who was drafted by the 49ers in 2011, said that this rebuild is different than the last two.
“Seeing the new faces and seeing how everyone is buying in … yeah it is special,” he said.
A familiar face
Frank Gore still has love for the 49ers. Needing just four yards to claim the No. 7 spot on the all-time leading rushers list, he’ll likely gain that Sunday against the team that drafted him.
“I think Jed [York] did a great job of picking the guys he picked to run the team,” Gore said in a conference call Wednesday morning. “I think they’re going to be OK, especially in the NFC West.”
Gore said that he was bitter after the 49ers passed on re-signing him following the 2014 season. But it sounded like he placed most of the blame on now-departed general manager Trent Baalke.
“That’s the business. I did right for that organization. I played hard. What can they say but great things about me? I want to see them do great.”
The love-fest was reciprocated from the current Niners head coach.
“I know everyone knows how good he is, but I still think he’s one of the most underrated backs of our generation and I have nothing but respect for Frank,” Shanahan said.
It’s a hard fact to argue as Gore rumbles toward his 13th effective season as an NFL running back.
Carlos Hyde summed it up best: “He’s a beast.”