Many expected the Cincinnati Bengals to come out firing in their home opener after a great showing against the Seahawks in Week 1. Unfortunately, Cincinnati’s old friend in the form of “Murphy’s Law” made its Paul Brown Stadium return, as the Bengals were stomped by the 49ers, 41-17.
Here are the best and worst of the day in the loss. Not surprisingly, the negatives far outweighed the positives.
Tyler Eifert: You have to feel good about the veteran tight end grabbing a touchdown. After all of the injuries he’s suffered, Eifert is feeling good and contributing in his trademark way. He had just three catches for nine yards, but on a day where Bengals fans were clinging for anything to feel good about, Eifert grabbing a TD has to be up there.
John Ross: The third-year receiver has had two big weeks in the Zac Taylor offense. Ross had a 66-yard touchdown in garbage time, but he is flourishing in the new offense and without A.J. Green in the lineup.
With his 112-yard performance on four catches, Ross has already surpassed his 2018 receiving total. He had 210 yards last year and is at 270 through just two games this year.
Geno Atkins: It was a bleak output by the defensive unit, but Atkins was one of the few players on that side of the ball who showed up on Sunday. Unfortunately, his four combined tackles didn’t tell the whole story.
He was constantly held by 49ers’ linemen, while also penetrating with frequency against the run. Unfortunately, the rest of the defense didn’t make the necessary tackles after Atkins blew up run plays.
Tyler Boyd: Would it surprise you to know that Boyd had a 100-yard receiving game? He did and consistently churned up big yardage.
Boyd continued to carve up the middle of the field, but his repertoire as a receiver has grown since his contract extension this summer. He finished with 10 catches for 122 yards.
Andre Smith: The veteran tackle is filling in at left tackle and it’s been a mess. He let up a sack early in the contest, then had an inexplicable false start right before the end of the first quarter. He was benched for John Jerry in the second quarter, and that’s saying something, given Jerry’s trade as an NFL guard throughout his entire career.
Pretty much every other offensive lineman: John Miller may be the lone exception here, but there were struggles from every big man up front on the offensive line. Jerry had trouble when he relieved Smith, while Bobby Hart had his usual roller coaster day. Basically, if there was a positive play by the Bengals, it seemed to have been negated by an offensive line penalty.
Rookie Michael Jordan had penalties and missed blocking assignments, and was subsequently carted off the field with an injury. Essentially every offseason nightmare about the line came to fruition this week.
Randy Bullock: Copy and paste. Bullock lined up for a 52-yard field goal at a critical time and once again missed. This offense will move the ball, but because of the overall inexperience, attempts at growing in the system and a poor offensive line, drives will stall. Simply put, Cincinnati needs a kicker who can consistently convert long field goal tries.
The linebackers: Cincinnati’s defensive unit didn’t have any answers for Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert, or Deebo Samuel. Tackling was much poorer than it was a week ago, as ball-carriers routinely slipped through first wrap-up attempts.
Many of the big plays by Breida and Mostert were on the outside, proving the limited athletic nature of the position group. Also, the Bengals still seemingly refuse to play third-round rookie linebacker, Germaine Pratt, showing how little progress he’s made.
Zac Taylor: Fans were fired up after the Bengals’ Week 1 effort, in which they almost pulled out the upset, but the home opener was a complete disaster. The Bengals made a few critical mistakes against the Seahawks that cost them the game, but most believed they would spend the week cleaning them up and put their best foot forward in front of their home crowd.
On the very first drive, Cincinnati had a penalty on the opening kickoff, a sack of Andy Dalton, had a stuffed run that was fumbled by Joe Mixon (recovered) and a short pass gain to lead to a punt. Later, William Jackson III had an interception that he returned to the 49ers’ 30-yard line, only to see the Bengals’ offense move backward and net zero points because of the Bullock missed field goal.
This team was simply not ready to play at all in their opener. Be it from the heat (and the decision to play in all-black uniforms), a poor gameplan and/or simply being over-matched, this has to be one of the worst home openers by the Bengals in recent memory and that is a direct indictment of the preparation by the coaching staff.
Lou Anarumo: It was midway through the second quarter when the 49ers had surpassed the total yardage total that the Bengals’ defense had allowed in Week 1 at Seattle. The pass-rush was non-existent and the overall lack of athleticism in the middle of the defense was completely exploited.
Perhaps the biggest example of the defensive issues is in the incredibly poor tackling. For how much Anarumo was lauded for his unit’s effort last week (and rightfully so), he was completely overmatched by Kyle Shanahan’s play-calling prowess.
C.J. Uzomah: The team’s tight end had a rough day, though it wasn’t fully his fault. Taylor and Brian Callahan routinely left him in terrible blocking matchups, while he also was held without a catch.
Dre Kirkpatrick: The defensive back continues to come up on the negative end of the highlight reel. Last week, Kirkpatrick had a big fumble recovery, but also was flagged for a critical penalty.
This week, Kirkpatrick (and other defensive backs) was routinely picked on by Marquise Goodwin and Deebo Samuel. He was also seen missing tackles on the edge against the run. While that’s not his forte, these were open-field tackles that team needed to have made.