SANTA CLARA — 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said he isn’t concerned with the team’s pass protection at his Wednesday press conference.
But through four games, the 49ers have allowed 13 sacks — tied for seventh most in the NFL. And Sunday during the overtime loss to the Arizona Cardinals, quarterback Brian Hoyer had to leave the game for one play after he got hit from behind.
“I think the pass protection has been pretty good,” Shanahan said. “I think part of our strength is our tackles outside. I think they have done a good job, thought they did a decent job last week. When guys pressure, we can’t hold onto the ball. We’ve got to pick those blitzes up and get rid of it. I thought we did a pretty good job in that for the most part. We missed a couple blitzing safeties with our backs in the game, which hurt us a couple times.”
The back who missed the blitzing safeties was Carlos Hyde. He missed three blocks against the Cardinals, and allowed one sack and two hits on Hoyer. But Hyde wasn’t the only player who gave up pressure.
Tight end Garrett Celek allowed one quarterback hit, tight end George Kittle allowed two quarterback hits, right tackle Trent Brown allowed three quarterback hits, left tackle Joe Staley allowed four quarterback hits, left guard Laken Tomlinson allowed one quarterback hit and a sack and right guard Brandon Fusco allowed two quarterback hits and a sack. In total, Hoyer got hit 18 times.
“That’s just part of football,” Hoyer said in the locker room Wednesday afternoon. “You get hit and you get back up. The one the other day where I had to come off for a play, your knee gets put in that compromising position and the first thing you think about is an ACL (injury). Once I realized it wasn’t that, my back just really tightened up. I tried to stay in. The ref said I had to come out for a play. You just go back in and finish the game and play through it.”
Hoyer left with 6:07 left in the third quarter. He came back and took nine more hits.
“(Hoyer) going out of the game for that one play was uncalled for,” said center Daniel Kilgore, the one offensive lineman who didn’t allow pressure against the Cardinals. “And when you talk about that (hit), it wasn’t even an offensive lineman (who allowed it).”
George Kittle, the rookie tight end, allowed the hit. He got matched up against Cardinals edge rusher Chandler Jones, who beat Kittle immediately off the snap. Jones is a tough matchup for anyone, let alone a rookie tight end.
Shanahan thinks Hoyer will take fewer hits if he throws the ball quicker when defenses blitz him. This coming Sunday, the 49ers will face the Indianapolis Colts, whose defense is tied for 20th out of 32 teams in quarterback sacks with only nine.
“Pass pro can always get better — always,” Kilgore said. “I’m not big on statistics. We’ve got to get better across the line in pass pro … The best thing that we can do right now is keep Brian clean.”
Linebacker Reuben Foster was running and jumping while playing basketball in the locker room Wednesday afternoon.