Instant Replay: 49ers comeback falls short, lose to Seahawks in season finale

Instant Replay: 49ers comeback falls short, lose to Seahawks in season finale


SANTA CLARA – On a day in which the 49ers made plenty of news off the field, they had one final game to get through before heading into what promises to be a busy offseason.

The 49ers dropped their seventh consecutive game to the Seattle Seahawks, as the NFC West-champions rallied and then held on for a 25-23 victory on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium. The loss snapped the 49ers’ string of nine consecutive wins in home finales.

The 49ers on Friday fired general manager Trent Baalke, who said during his weekly appearance on the 49ers pregame show on radio station KNBR that attending the season finale was the “right thing to do.”

CEO Jed York is scheduled to meet with coach Chip Kelly after the game. York is expected to fire Kelly and begin the search for a coach-general manager pairing to set the organization in a different direction.

Kelly, who was known for an innovative passing game, was unable to get any production from the team’s offense. The 49ers’ passing attack ranked last in the NFL. And the defense was the worst in franchise history, setting franchise-worst marks in yards allowed in a season, point allowed and rushing yards allowed.

Colin Kaepernick, playing in what could be the final 49ers game of his career, started out hot. He completed his first 10 pass attempts for 144 yards through the first 25 minutes of the game.

Kaepernick completed 17 of 22 pass attempts for 215 yards with a passer rating of 122.3. His 9-yard touchdown pass to tight end Garrett Celek pulled the 49ers to within 25-23 with 5:42 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Kaepernick can opt out of his contract before the start of the new league year on March 9 to become an unrestricted free agent. If Kaepernick does not opt out, the 49res would be expected to release him to avoid paying his scheduled $14.9 million in salary and bonuses.

The 49ers took a 14-3 lead on Shaun Draughn’s two 1-yard touchdown runs – the later of which came on a fourth-and-goal play on the first play of the second quarter. Draughn got the start in place of Carlos Hyde, who sustained an MCL sprain last week in his left knee and was placed on injured reserve.

The 49ers’ backup running back, DuJuan Harris, helped the Seahawks get back into the game in the second quarter with a fumble near midfield that defensive end Frank Clark recovered and returned 27 yards.

Two plays later, Russell Wilson hit tight end Luke Willson for an 11-yard touchdown pass to cut the 49ers’ lead to 14-13.

Staley returns to action: Left tackle Joe Staley, who missed the previous three games due a hamstring injury, returned to the starting lineup on Sunday. Staley was named the winner of the Bill Walsh Award as the team’s MVP on Friday.

The 49ers’ starting offensive line consisted of Staley, left guard Andrew Gardner, center Zane Beadles, right guard Joshua Garnett and right tackle Trent Brown. Gardner saw his first action with the 49ers after signing as a free agent on Dec. 21.

This ‘n’ that
--Rookie cornerback Rashard Robinson sustained a left ankle injury and left the game in the second quarter and did not return. After being helped to the team bench, a cart transported Robinson to the locker room for further observation.

Robinson, a fourth-round draft pick, started seven games for the 49ers this season. He clinched the 49ers’ victory in Week 16 with an last-minute interception of Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff.

--The 49ers suited up only 45 players for the game – one fewer than allowed – due to tight end Je’Ron Hamm sustaining a serious left leg injury during pregame warmups. Hamm was fitted with an air cast and taken off the field on a cart.

--The 49ers scored their first safety since the 2013 season when Seattle long-snapper Nolan Frese airmailed a snap over punter Jon Ryan’s head and out of the back of the end zone in the third quarter.

--Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka made field goals of 31, 32, 33 and 28 yards.

--Wide receiver DeAndre Smelter, a fourth-round draft pick in 2015, had a 23-yard reception for his first NFL catch.

Ex-49er Daniel Kilgore describes 'crazy,' 'frustrating,' 'heart-breaking' week


Ex-49er Daniel Kilgore describes 'crazy,' 'frustrating,' 'heart-breaking' week

Daniel Kilgore’s mind was at ease on Feb. 14 after signing a three-year contract extension to remain with the 49ers – the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2011 draft.

But all that changed on the first day of the open negotiating period when he learned the 49ers reached an agreement with New York Giants free-agent Weston Richburg on a five-year contract. The same firm, Rep1, represents Kilgore and Richburg.

“Originally, I knew Weston was on the Niners’ board for left guard,” Kilgore said on the 49ers Insider Podcast. “When I knew that he was going to sign with the 49ers, I was thinking, ‘Hey, we just got a new left guard.’ I hate it for Laken (Tomlinson).

“But, then, you kind of find out he was coming for center. That’s when I was thrown for a loop.”

Kilgore described the days that followed as “crazy,” “frustrating” and “heart-breaking.”

One day after the 49ers officially signed Richburg to a five-year, $47.5 million contract, Kilgore was traded to the Miami Dolphins. The 49ers got little in return for delivering Kilgore to what appears to be a good situation. The team’s swapped draft spots in the seventh round, with the 49ers now choosing at No. 223 overall, while the Dolphins pick at No. 227.

Kilgore lands in a situation to be a starter. He also received, in essence, a 13.3-percent raise for leaving California to go to Florida, where there is no state income tax. The 49ers structured Kilgore's contract so the first payout of a $2.3 million roster bonus was scheduled for after the start of the new league year – after the trade. The Dolphins pick up the entirety of the three-year, $11.75 million contract the 49ers negotiated with Kilgore.

Kilgore said he was never asked to compete for a job at guard with the 49ers. He said he did not request a trade, either. He was told, in essence, he was no longer in the 49ers’ plans.

General manager John Lynch told NBC Sports Bay Area last week both Richburg and Kilgore are best at center. To ask either to submit to a change of position would set up one of them for failure.

Looking back, Kilgore said he wonders if he should have turned down the 49ers’ offer and gone into free agency. But that approach had its risks, too. All he wanted, he said, was to be compensated fairly and remain with the 49ers.

“I was really thrown for a shock,” said Kilgore, who won the Bobb McKittrick Award last season for his displays of courage, intensity and sacrifice. “You just wonder, ‘What If I did go free agency?’ (But) that wasn’t me. I knew where that team was going. I’m familiar with the area, familiar with the coaching staff, my best friends are on the team. So I knew this is where I wanted to be. I didn’t see myself going anywhere else.”

Now, he will be moving to South Florida, where he will attempt to establish what he felt he had with the 49ers.

“You want to be there and be a part of something on the rise," Kilgore said. "That was the frustrating thing, that you’re no longer going to be there. It’s frustrating and heart-breaking, but you move on. I’m going to South Florida, and that makes things a heck of a lot better.”

Kilgore said he had some hard conversations with Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan last week. Ultimately, he said he respects both men for the way they handled an awkward situation. Lynch said last week when the 49ers signed Kilgore to an extension, the club believed there was a likelihood Richburg would not still be available a month later as a free agent. Richburg was the only center the 49ers would have sought to replace Kilgore, Lynch said.

“I hope the fans out there know the truth about everything and know that Kyle and John did it in the best interest of me and the best interest for the team moving forward,” Kilgore said. “There’s no bad grudges or anything like that. We’re all still friends at the end of the day.”

Report: 49ers scheduled to meet with free-agent defensive back


Report: 49ers scheduled to meet with free-agent defensive back

Versatile free-agent defensive back Jaylen Watkins is reportedly scheduled to visit the 49ers on Wednesday.

Watkins’ meeting with the 49ers coincides with veteran cornerback Richard Sherman’s appearance at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara for a noon press conference. Sherman signed a three-year contract with the 49ers on March 10 – one day after the Seattle Seahawks released him.

The 49ers are in the market for backups in the defensive backfield. Watkins (5-foot-11, 195 pounds) started five games in five games in four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles while appearing in 36 games.

Watkins, 26, played three snaps on defense and 17 plays on special teams in the Eagles’ 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 52 on Feb. 4. He entered the NFL in 2014 as a fourth-round draft pick from Florida.

The NFL Network reported Watkins’ meeting with the 49ers is the first of multiple visits he has scheduled.