The San Francisco 49ers looked as if they would finally break their record losing streak. But with no points after halftime, the 49ers did what they have done best all season: lose. The 49ers drop their 12th straight game, 23-17 in overtime.
The San Francisco 49ers looked as if they were finally going to break their franchise-record losing streak against the New York Jets. With an early interception and touchdowns on their first two possessions — not to mention Carlos Hyde‘s field day — the game was theirs.
Even Phil Dawson‘s uncharacteristic early misses did not seem to be a cause for concern, though one could argue they cost the 49ers the game. Up 17-3 at halftime against an offense that had done nothing all day long, one could sense the sigh of relief among the 49er Faithful.
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But it was not a sigh of relief. Rather, it was that all-too-familiar sigh of despair that rang out in Levi’s Stadium and in front of televisions across the nation. Yet this was clearly coming. Th writing was on the wall when Bryce Petty found the end zone on two-point conversion to pull the Jets within three. Somehow, the 49ers would find a way to lose. It was close, but lose they did.
Colin Kaepernick started out the game on fire, but did absolutely nothing in the second half. Carlos Hyde was a beast for the 49ers, but even he was stopped short at the end of the day when Chip Kelly made the questionable call to go for it on 4th and 2 instead of kick a go-ahead field goal in overtime.
This game goes down as another chapter in the 49ers year of misery.
Dec 11, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) passes the ball against the New York Jets during the first quarter at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Yes, Kap’s stats looked really good — in the first quarter. Colin Kaepernick ended the game with 15 completions on 26 attempts for 133 yards and a touchdown. More concerning to me is the lack of ball movement in the second half. The 49ers went three-and-out on four of the their five possessions in the second half. That is not how you win a football game!
As the quarterback and focal point of the offense, Kaepernick has to bear some responsibility for this poor performance. Without first downs you cannot control time of possession. If you let the other team control time of possession your defense wears down and gives up big plays at the end.
This is precisely what happened, yet again.
Running Back: A
Sure, Hyde did not get that first down in OT. But the offensive line gave him no chance on that play. Furthermore, Hyde had a ridiculous 193 yards on a measly 17 carries. That’s an unheard of 11.4 yards per carry!
Hyde had his best day ever as an NFL running back, besting his 168 yard performance in the 49ers 2015 season opener against Minnesota. That this came on only 17 carries is ridiculous and incredibly impressive. Hyde showed his potential today, and the ceiling is way up there. If he can only stay healthy. . .
Wide Receiver: C+
Jeremy Kerley and Quinton Patton had solid days. The biggest story of the receiver position was Torrey Smith‘s apparent concussion, however. Smith lay motionless on the ground for what seemed like an eternity after being hit in the air going for a deep ball. The play was clean, but Smith happened to hit his head directly on the turf. Hopefully this will not impact him long-term.
The offensive line can get some credit for Carlos Hyde’s amazing day. But it also deserves all the blame for his inability to have any chance at a first down on the fourth-and-two in overtime. Kaepernick did not have the best protection either.
This offensive line has struggled all season. Today was no exception.
Dec 11, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty (9) scores a two point conversion against San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks (55) and cornerback Jimmie Ward (25) during the fourth quarter at Levi’s Stadium. The New York Jets defeated the San Francisco 49ers 23-17. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Defensive Line: D+
The 49ers may have rushed for a ton of yards, but they also gave up way too many yards on the ground. Bilal Powell raced for 145 yards and two touchdowns for the Jets on 29 carries (5.0 yards per catch). Perhaps the most embarrassing moment for the 49ers defense, however, was Bryce Petty’s two-point conversion. Somehow, Petty squirmed his way into the end zone when he had no business being near it.
DeForest Buckner did have a nice two sacks, though.
The same problems that hurt the defensive line plagued the linebackers. Inability to stop the run and letting Petty make big plays at the end of the game cost the 49ers the game. I would argue this was bigger than Dawson’s missed kicks.
The defense was simply worn down at the end of the game, as they have been all year.
Defensive Back: C-
Jimmie Ward had a great interception early on and both he and Jaquiski Tartt recorded sacks. Like the rest of the defense, however, the secondary struggled late in the game giving up a few big plays in the passing game late in the fourth.
Dec 11, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers kicker Phil Dawson (4) reacts after missing a field goal against the New York Jets during the second quarter at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Special Teams & Coaching Grades
Special Teams: F
The unit that almost always gets the best grade ends up with the worst. Phil Dawson had only missed one field goal on the year heading into Sunday’s matchup against the Jets. He missed his first two on Sunday. This shocked just about everyone, as Dawson simply doesn’t miss.
Some will argue these kicks cost the 49ers the game. While they definitely played a role, the 49ers should have been able to a) get more than one first down in the second half; and b) stop the Bryce Petty-led Jets offense one last time. Neither of those things happened.
Bradley Pinion finally looked like he would be used the way a normal punter should. He ended the game with his ninth game of 6+ punts this season.
The 49ers were unable to control — or even come close to trying to control — time of possession in the second half. The blame falls partially on Kap and the offense. Chip Kelly and the coaching staff deserve at least as much blame for this failure, however.
You can — and perhaps should — play conservatively when up two touchdowns. But you should also need to give your defense a rest every now and then and hold the opponent to as few chances on offense as possible. Also, how did Carlos Hyde only get 17 carries?
Dec 11, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers running back Carlos Hyde (28) carries the ball against the New York Jets during the overtime period at Levi’s Stadium. The New York Jets defeated the San Francisco 49ers 23-17. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Cumulative 49ers Grade for Week 14: D
This may have been the most depressing game yet for the San Francisco 49ers. Up 17-3 at half, the 49ers gained only one first down en route to their franchise-record 12th straight loss.
It is difficult to remain excited about a team that has played so poorly for so long. Every time the 49ers do something well, they shoot themselves in the foot shortly after. But there are two things to be excited about.