In the span of three games, have the 49ers gone from contenders to pretenders?
Not quite, but NBC Sports Bay Area analyst Donte Whitner believes it's time for San Francisco to take a long, hard look at itself in the mirror.
"After Sunday's loss to the Cincinnati Bengals and a third consecutive loss, I think that it's time to officially hit the panic button on the 49ers," Whitner said on the latest "Hitner's Hot Take" after the 49ers' 31-17 loss to the Bengals.
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San Francisco has lost its last three games, and both players and coaches have acknowledged the 49ers need a better all-around effort if they want to bounce back after their Week 9 bye. Whitner pointed out two areas in particular where they have to improve if they want to land back in the win column -- and it starts on offense.
"First off, the offense can't run the ball with any consistency with Trent Williams out on the left side of the offensive line," Whitner continued. "Brock Purdy has five interceptions thrown in the previous three games, and specifically four interceptions thrown in close games in the last two games."
But the 49ers' defense must make adjustments, too, from players making tackles to defensive coordinator Steve Wilks calling plays up in the booth.
"On defense, after starting the season very hot, they cooled down significantly," Whitner said. "And the problem? It starts up front. The defensive line are having issues getting on and off of blocks, setting the edge of the defense and providing consistent pressure, forcing the quarterbacks to get the ball out quickly."
San Francisco 49ers
But at 5-3 and with a week to rest, the 49ers certainly have an opportunity to respond in the face of adversity and return in Week 10 as the dominant team they know they can be, especially when key players like Williams and Deebo Samuel return from injury.
The 49ers face a significant challenge in their next game, when they visit the Jacksonville Jaguars, winners of five straight, on Nov. 12 at EverBank Stadium.
"All in all, the 49ers aren't playing complimentary football," Whitner said. "If they don't want these three losses to turn into four, they're going to have to heal up over the bye week, get some of their best players back and play their best game in South Florida."