The 49ers are back on the winning track now, with two straight victories and a 3-2 record.
For now, at least, the sky doesn’t seem to be falling as it was after consecutive losses to the Bears and Cardinals. Another victory this coming Monday night against the St. Louis Rams will have the 49ers exactly where they were last season when they were 4-2 after six games en route to a 12-4 record.
Yet San Francisco still has some areas of concern. One big one for the offense is its performance in the red zone.
In this past Sunday’s 22-17 victory over the Chiefs, the 49ers moved the ball inside the red zone (the opponent’s 20-yard line) four times. Only once did they score a touchdown. On the other three possessions they had to settle for Phil Dawson field goals.
As noted by Paul Gutierrez, who covers the 49ers for ESPN.com, San Francisco had scored TDs on only 50 percent of its red-zone trips before the victory over the Chiefs.
Now that percentage is down to 44.4 percent for the season, which ranks 25th in the NFL. In 2013, the 49ers converted 53 percent of their red-zone trips into touchdowns.
After Sunday’s game, quarterback Colin Kaepernick brushed off questions about the team settling for field goals.
“As long as we win, that’s all that matters,” he said.
But this week, head coach Jim Harbaugh said it’s just a matter of getting better execution and play calling. Harbaugh said on the 49ers’ last series, they tried to go outside on one key play, but Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali made a nice play to get Kaepernick on a keeper. Harbaugh said he had expected Hali to crash inside.
Harbaugh also said a play early in the game, when receiver Anquan Boldin had a run-pass option, may not have been the best call, either.
Offensive tackle Joe Staley, meanwhile, said the 49ers must get better at scoring TDs. Otherwise, in close games, the 49ers may come up short.
“We’re definitely not coming away with enough touchdowns,” he said. “It’s definitely something we will improve on. We have to.”
What’s interesting, too, is that Kaepernick’s quarterback rating in the red zone is actually higher than it is for his entire season. His rating is 91.3 overall, but 104.2 inside the red zone.
On Monday night, the 49ers will go up against a Rams defense that has allowed TDs on 50 percent of opponents’ red-zone trips.
If the 49ers continue to struggle to score TDs in those situations, at least they have the reliable Dawson. He’s tied for third in the NFL with 11 field goals, and is 11-for-13 so far (84.6 percent).
“We always want to finish with seven points,” Kaepernick told Gutierrez. “But when Phil comes on the field, we’re confident we got three.”