ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – Safety Eric Reid referred to Sunday’s contest as a “must win,” as he entered the game clinging to hope the 49ers could turn things around and make a run at the playoffs.
Then, there was the harsh reality.
The playoffs are not going to happen for the 49ers this season. That might be about the only certainty that remains for the reeling franchise.
The 49ers (1-5) dropped their fifth consecutive game, as the Buffalo Bills pushed them around in a 45-16 victory in front of a delighted home crowd.
And Reid, like many of his teammates, struggled immensely in every conceivable area against a surging Buffalo team that won its fourth consecutive game.
“It hurts,” Reid said. ‘We just haven’t played up to par – too many mistakes, we’re still shooting ourselves in the foot, turnovers, not making turnovers, missing sacks. I missed a sack, giving up touchdowns. We just have to play better.
“I didn’t play good today. Obviously, I gave up a touchdown and missed a sack. I didn’t get my job done.”
The 49ers' run defense was as bad as the club has seen in more than a half-century. The 49ers surrendered 312 yards rushing to the Bills — just 12 yards shy of the worst mark in franchise history. In November 1958, the 49ers gave up 324 yards on the ground to the Los Angeles Rams.
Since holding the Rams’ Todd Gurley to 47 yards rushing in the opener, the 49ers have not been able to hold the opposition’s top rusher under 100 yards.
Step aside, Fozzy Whitaker (Carolina), Christine Michael (Seattle), Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas) and David Johnson (Arizona). On Sunday, it was the LeSean McCoy’s turn to make the 49ers’ defense look foolish and incompetent.
McCoy rushed for 140 yards and three touchdowns on 19 rushing attempts. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor added 68 yards rushing, and reserve running back Mike Gillislee added 60 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
“As a man, that is embarrassing, and I think everybody in here would feel that way, and I think everybody in here does feel that way,” 49ers linebacker Michael Wilhoite said.
Said Reid, “Yeah, it was embarrassing. To get the ball ran on you like that when you know they’re going to run the ball. We just got to stop making the mistakes, stay in our gaps, make the tackle. There were too many missed tackles. We just got to look at it and get better.”
Reid and teammate Antoine Bethea allowed Bills receiver Justin Hunter to get behind them for a 30-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter.
Reid also was called for 22-yard pass interference penalty that set up Taylor’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Robert Woods – a play on which cornerback Keith Reaser and Bethea appeared to cross signals.
Defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil has been unable to make the fixes. And coach Chip Kelly was asked why there are breakdowns week after week after week.
“That’s a really good question,” Kelly said. “I don’t know. There were a lot of missed tackles today, just from my vantage point on the sideline. But you have to look at the film and see where the fits were and see where we were spilling the ball, where it’s supposed to be spilled.
“We have guys that can make plays, but from the sideline there were still some instances where, you knew you were playing against a good back and you have to swarm tackle him, get around him and get a lot of guys to the ball. And you have to wrap up when you get there, and we didn’t do a good job.”