Instant Replay: 49ers crushed by Falcons, fall to 1-13

Instant Replay: 49ers crushed by Falcons, fall to 1-13


ATLANTA – The shorthanded, overmatched and listless 49ers extended the club’s franchise-worst losing streak to an incomprehensible 13 consecutive games on Sunday.

The outcome was never in doubt, as the Atlanta Falcons scored touchdowns with ease on their first three possessions of the game and threw it on cruise control for a 41-13 victory over the 49eres at the Georgia Dome.

The Falcons (9-5) are guaranteed to retain at least a share of the NFC South lead, while the 49ers remain in contention for the No. 1 overall draft pick. The 49ers (1-13) kept pace with the Cleveland Browns, who were losers for the 14th time in 14 games.

The 49ers have never had a one-win season in franchise history. San Francisco’s remaining games are at the Los Angeles Rams on Christmas Eve, and the season-finale at Levi’s Stadium on Jan. 1 against the NFC West-champion Seattle Seahawks.

While sustaining another loss, the 49ers’ porous defense set a franchise record for rushing yards allowed in a single season. And, remember, the 49ers still have two games remaining.

In 1978, the 49ers allowed 2,363 rushing yards. The 49ers allowed the opposition to blow past that mark on Sunday. The Falcons rushed for 248 yards, and the 49ers have now surrendered 2,468 rushing yards through 14 games.

Falcons running back Devonta Freeman became the 11th opponent to rush for more than 100 yards. Freeman rushed for 139 yards and three touchdowns on 20 rushing attempts.

Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan padded his resume for possible NFL Player of the Year consideration. Ryan completed 17 of 23 pass attempts for 286 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating was a gaudy 144.5.

Colin Kaepernick, making his ninth consecutive start, completed 20 of 33 passes for 183 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Kaepernick was just one of seven for 8 yards in the third quarter.

Running back Carlos Hyde led the 49ers on the ground with 13 carries for 71 yards.

Hodges disciplined
Linebacker Gerald Hodges, who started the previous eight games, was deactivated for violating team rules, the 49ers announced before the game. His deactivation left the 49ers with just two inside linebackers in uniform to open the game.

Hodges’ misstep almost immediately became a factor when starter Nick Bellore sustained an elbow injury on the third play of the game.

Vinnie Sunseri replaced Bellore for the remainder of the first drive, which ended with Devonta Freeman’s 5-yard touchdown run. On the next series, veteran safety Antoine Bethea took over at inside linebacker. Then, it was Ahmad Brooks’ turn.

In 13 games this season, including 10 starts, Hodges entered the game ranked fifth on the 49ers with 75 tackles, according to the coaches film review. Hodges has career-highs with three sacks and two interceptions. He is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

Injury report
The 49ers lost five players due to injuries through the first three quarters: wide receiver Quinton Patton (foot), tight end Blake Bell (shoulder), center Marcus Martin (ankle), cornerback Jimmie Ward (shoulder), and Bellore (elbow).

Patton’s injury meant the 49ers played most of the game without their two starting outside receivers. Torrey Smith did not travel with the team to Atlanta due to a concussion he sustained a week earlier against the New York Jets.

Left tackle Joe Staley did not suit up due to a hamstring injury. Veteran guard Zane Beadles started at left tackle. He moved to center after Martin’s injury, which meant rookie John Theus took over for his first snaps of the season at left tackle.

This ‘n’ that
--Quarterback Christian Ponder was active for the first time this season, as he replaced Blaine Gabbert as Kaepernick’s backup. Gabbert started the first five games of the season, during which time the 49ers went 1-4. Ponder did not play.

--The 49ers opened the game with a three-and-out. On a third-and-1 play, slot receiver Jeremy Kerley was wide open as Kaepernick rolled to his left. Kaepernick’s pass was high, and Kerley made the ill-advised decision to try to catch it with one hand. The pass fell incomplete and the 49ers were forced to punt.

--The Falcons were within inches of scoring their fourth touchdown in their first four possessions of the game. But 49ers linebacker Michael Wilhoite ripped the ball out of Freeman’s hands at the goal line to force a turnover in the second quarter.

--In the first quarter, the 49ers were outgained 157 yards to 24. The 49ers’ only first down of the first quarter came on the final play, as Kaepernick hit Patton with a 12-yard gain. But on the first play of the second quarter, Patton lost 9 yards on a jet sweep shovel pass.

--Kicker Phil Dawson pushed an extra-point attempt wide left near the end of the first half, as the 49ers trailed 28-13 after 30 minutes of play. It was Dawson’s first missed field goal of the season.

--Rod Streater caught a 5-yard scoring pass from Kaepernick near the end of the first half. It was his first touchdown reception since the 2014 season, when he caught the first scoring pass from Derek Carr with the Raiders.

--The 49ers, who trailed 21-0, got on the scoreboard early in the second quarter on Kaepernick’s 16-yard scoring pass to tight end Garrett Celek.

Terrell Owens selects former 49ers coach as his Hall of Fame presenter


Terrell Owens selects former 49ers coach as his Hall of Fame presenter

Terrell Owens has selected former 49ers special teams and wide receivers coach George Stewart as his presenter into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“He knew what to get out of me,” Owens told the Hall of Fame.

“He knows who I am. To know who Terrell Owens is, you have to spend some time with him. . . George Stewart became a father figure to me.”

Owens was elected into the Hall of Fame in February. He will enter the Hall of Fame in a class that also includes wide receiver Randy Moss, linebackers Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher and Robert Brazile, safety Brian Dawkins, guard Jerry Kramer, and contributor Bobby Beathard.

Owens played special teams under Stewart’s direction as a rookie after coming to the 49ers in 1996.

From 2000 to ’02, Stewart worked as the 49ers’ wide receivers coach. Owens was selected to three consecutive All-Pro teams and Pro Bowls during that time. Owens ranks No. 2 all time behind Jerry Rice with 15,934 receiving yards. He is third all-time with 153 receiving touchdowns.

Stewart is set to enter his 30th NFL season as an assistant coach and his second as special-teams coordinator of the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Class of 2018 will be enshrined inside Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, on Saturday, Aug. 4.

Sherman makes his concern over Reid's free-agency status loud and clear


Sherman makes his concern over Reid's free-agency status loud and clear

Safety Eric Reid, who has 69 career starts and one Pro Bowl appearance in his five-year NFL career, remains available on the open market more than a week after the opening of free agency.

Reid has received no reported interest from NFL teams in what has been an unusually soft market for free-agent safeties. But, with Reid, there is another variable that could be playing a factor.

Reid was at the forefront of the social activism that has been a major storyline in the NFL since the beginning of the 2016 season. Reid and former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the playing of the national anthem in protest of racial inequality in America.

Reid has remained outspoken and has taken a knee as a way to “make people uncomfortable about the issues.” Reid has been clear his protest has nothing to do with the flag or the anthem.

“The anthem is just a vehicle to get us to have those conversations,” Reid told NBC Sports Bay Area last season. “It’s the platform we have. It’s the only time we have to get the eyeballs on us to do that. If we just did locker-room talks afterward, nobody would even know. Strategically, this is the only way we thought we could do it.”

Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman, who signed a three-year contract with the 49ers on March 10, had been the Seattle Seahawks’ player representative. He is a vice president of the NFL Players Association. Reid was the 49ers’ union representative.

Sherman said he is keeping a close eye on Reid’s situation.

“We are concerned, because he played at a high level for just about every year that he’s played in this league,” Sherman said on Tuesday. “He’s made enough plays to be signed with a team and to make his money. He deserves his money. Safeties make a certain amount. I would think he’s top-five, top-10 safeties in this league, so he deserves to be paid accordingly.

“So there is concern there, because you would think a player of his caliber and his quality would be picked up by now. I think great teams are still looking and people are still looking for players. I’m praying that he gets picked up. But if he doesn’t, then I think there will be a conversation with the league office and the union on potential league action.”

Kaepernick never got so much as an opportunity to compete for an NFL roster spot during training camp last season. Could Reid, 26, be heading for the same fate?

Reid addressed the issue last week on social media:

“The notion that I can be a great signing for your team for cheap, not because of my skill set but because I’ve protested systemic oppression, is ludicrous. If you think is, then your mindset is part of the problem too.”

The 49ers have not placed a priority on re-signing Reid. The club already has potential starting safeties Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt and Adrian Colbert under contract for the upcoming season.

Reid, whom the 49ers traded up to select with the No. 18 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, has 10 career interceptions. He appeared to thrive last season in run support as a safety who played closer to the line of scrimmage.