Instant Replay: 49ers blow early 14-point lead in sixth straight loss


Instant Replay: 49ers blow early 14-point lead in sixth straight loss


SANTA CLARA – The 49ers have mastered the art of making 14-point leads disappear at Levi’s Stadium.

Just three weeks after blowing a two-touchdown lead against the Dallas Cowboys, the thoroughly incapable 49ers did it again on Sunday. This time, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rolled back from an early deficit to post a come-from-behind victory over the 49ers.

It was more of the same for the 49ers -- a comedy of errors that included turnovers, missed tackles, blown coverages, teammates bumping into each other and plenty junior-high level miscues – in the Buccaneers’ 34-17 victory over the 49ers.

The 49ers’ losing streak reaches six games after the team’s opening-week victory over the Los Angeles Rams. It’s the 49ers longest skid since a six-game losing streak in 2008. In the middle of that drought, the 49ers fired coach Mike Nolan and replaced him with interim coach Mike Singletary.

The 49ers opened strong on Sunday, scoring touchdowns on two of their first four possessions.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick provided the 49ers with their biggest threat in the run game with Carlos Hyde out of action. He rushed for 84 yards on nine attempts. But the team’s 32nd-ranked passing game continued its struggles.

Kaepernick completed 16 of 34 passes for 143 yards with one touchdown and one interception. His receivers and pass protection did him few favors, either. Kaepernick was under siege throughout the game. He was sacked four times, one of which resulted in a fumble that the Bucs quickly turned into points.

Defensively, the 49ers had its struggles against an offense that ranks in the lower-third of the league.

The 49ers surrendered a 100-yard rusher for the sixth consecutive game – and the second time in a row before halftime. Tampa Bay was playing without their top running back, Doug Martin, but it did not matter.

Jacquizz Rodgers gained 110 yards in the first half to set his career-high for a single game after just 30 minutes. He finished with 154 yards on 26 rushing attempts. And Peyton Barber, a rookie from Auburn, got into the act with a 44-yard touchdown run late in the game.

Tampa Bay rushed for 249 yards against the pathetic 49ers defense. Last week, the 49ers allowed 312 yards rushing to the Buffalo Bills. The 561 yards allowed in back-to-back games is the worst in franchise history.

Fozzy Whittaker (Carolina), Christine Michael (Seattle), Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas), David Johnson (Arizona), LeSean McCoy (Buffalo) rushed for more than 100 yards against the 49ers in successive weeks before Rodgers.

The Buccaneers entered the game with the league’s 27th-ranked running offense, averaging 88.6 yards on the ground per game.

Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston completed 21 of 30 passes for 269 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Receiver Mike Evans had his way with rookie cornerback Rashard Robinson en route to eight catches for 96 yards and two touchdowns.

Compensating for Carlos: Mike Davis, a second-year player, received his first NFL start. Carlos Hyde was unavailable for the game due to a shoulder injury.

Davis capped an impressive opening drive with a 4-yard touchdown run – his first score of his NFL career.

After the 49ers got some production from DuJuan Harris, who made his season debut after being called up from the practice squad on Saturday, veteran Shaun Draughn entered.

On Draughn’s first snap from scrimmage, quarterback Colin Kaepernicks rolled left and found Draughn in the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown. It was the first scoring reception of Draughn’s 48-game NFL career.

Harris gained 39 yards on 11 rushing attempts. Davis had 21 yards on seven carries.

Lineup reset: Inside linebacker Gerald Hodges, who started the first three games of the season, replaced Michael Wilhoite in the lineup on Sunday. Hodges started alongside Nick Bellore.

Hodges made his impact felt in the first quarter when he intercepted a Winston pass and returned it 21 yards. Kaepernick hit Draught on a 17-yard touchdown on the next play. Ahmad Brooks got pressure on Winston and Tramaine Brock tipped the pass intended for Mike Evans to lead to Hodges’ second career interception.

Cornerback Jimmie Ward also returned to action after missing three games with a right quadriceps injury. Robinson, who was cleared to return from a concussion he sustained last week, remained in the starting lineup. Ward entered the game as the 49ers’ nickel back.

Injury report: Defensive lineman Arik Armstead (shoulder), rookie cornerback Rashard Robinson (knee) and outside linebacker Aaron Lynch (ankle) were ruled out of the game shortly after they were forced out of the game due to injuries in the third quarter.

Armstead’s condition appeared to be an aggravation of a left shoulder injury he has been managing since training camp. Armstead did not play in any of the 49ers’ four exhibition games due to the injury. He said the undisclosed condition might force him to have surgery at the end of the season.

Robinson and Lynch left the game on back-to-back plays. Robinson sustained a left knee injury, while Lynch exited with a left ankle injury. Lynch recorded his first sack of the season earlier in the game. Robinson was beaten twice on touchdown passes.

This ‘n’ that
--Rookie Aaron Burbridge bumped into teammate Jeremy Kerley on an attempted fair catch of a punt. Tampa Bay recovered the muffed punt and turned it into a field goal for a 20-14 lead with 10:57 remaining in the third quarter.

--Nike co-founder Phil Knight was a guest of coach Chip Kelly on the sideline before the game.

--Shortly before the playing of the national anthem, 49ers owner Denise DeBartolo York greeted Kaepernick on the team’s sideline.

Frank Gore returns home for his 14th NFL season


Frank Gore returns home for his 14th NFL season

Frank Gore is returning home to, in all likelihood, finish his professional football career.

Gore, 34, signed a one-year contract to enter his 14th NFL season with his hometown Miami Dolphins, the team announced Friday.

Gore grew up in Coconut Grove, Florida, and attended Coral Gables High School before playing collegiately at the University of Miami.

He played the first 10 NFL seasons with the 49ers and is the franchise’s all-time leading rusher. Gore ranks fifth in NFL history with 14,026 rushing yards – just 75 yards behind No. 4 Curtis Martin.

After rushing for 11,073 yards and 64 touchdowns with the 49ers, the club declined to offer him a multi-year contract following the 2014 season. Gore played the past three seasons with the Indianapolis Colts.

Gore remains one of the most popular players in 49ers history. When asked recently if he would be willing to “retire” as a member of the 49ers after his final game, Gore reacted enthusiastically about the possibility.

1, Emmitt Smith 18,355
2, Walter Payton 16,726
3, Barry Sanders 15,269
4, Curtis Martin 14,101
5, Frank Gore 14,026

49ers increase competition for starting guard positions


49ers increase competition for starting guard positions

The 49ers are the fifth team to give Jonathan Cooper a chance after he arrived in the NFL as the No. 7 overall pick of the Arizona Cardinals in the 2013 draft.

Cooper, 28, caught the attention of the 49ers with his career-high 13 starts last season with the Dallas Cowboys. The 49ers signed him to a one-year, $4.95 million contract this week.

“We signed him to compete for one of the guard spots as a starter,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said Thursday at Stanford's pro day. “He played very well in our minds for Dallas last year and kind of resurrected his career. He’s battled injuries, but we really like the way he played, and we think he’s a very good fit for what we do. So we were pleased to add him.”

The 49ers plan to take it slowly this offseason with Cooper, who underwent surgery after tearing the medial-collateral ligament in his left knee during the final game of the season. The 49ers report for the offseason program in mid-April.

The 49ers are certain to have at least two new starters on the offensive line. Former New York Giants center Weston Richburg was signed to replace Daniel Kilgore, who was subsequently traded to the Miami Dolphins. Brandon Fusco, who started 16 games at right guard, signed with the Atlanta Falcons as an unrestricted free agent.

Laken Tomlinson has a chance to hold onto a starting job. Acquired shortly before the start of the regular season in a trade from the Detroit Lions, Tomlinson quickly moved into the starting lineup at left guard and started the final 15 games. Tomlinson was a first-round draft pick of the Lions in 2015.

“Laken played very well the longer he was there,” Lynch said. “I think people forget with Laken, he came here in Week 1. He was kind of force-fed. We didn’t have many options. But we saw a guy get better throughout the season. He’ll get his opportunity.”

Joshua Garnett, a first-round pick of the 49ers in 2016, spent last season on injured reserve due to an a knee injury sustained in training camp. The 49ers challenged Garnett to get in better physical condition. He has been cleared for football activity.

“Joshua Garnett has been working extremely hard, so he’ll be in that mix,” Lynch said. “He did a great job embracing the time he has last year to improve as a player. He remade his body and we're looking forward to see him get after it in the offseason.

“I think he’s excited about it. He’s feeling sexy, as he says.”

Erik Magnuson, 24, won a spot on the 49ers’ roster after signing as an undrafted rookie from Michigan. Magnuson could enter into the competition at guard. He displayed unique versatility in his first season, starting two games at right tackle before sustaining a season-ending foot injury. He can also serve as a backup center.

And, perhaps, the 49ers are not finished adding to the competition. The team owns the No. 9 overall selection, and Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson could be on the radar in the unlikely event he is not selected within the top eight picks.

When asked if the 49ers could also add another player to the mix with a draft pick, Lynch answered, “We’ll see. We’re always looking to get better there.”