Instant Replay: Big day for offense wasted in 49ers' loss to Saints

Instant Replay: Big day for offense wasted in 49ers' loss to Saints


SANTA CLARA – The 49ers’ offense snapped out of its season-long snooze on Sunday.

The 49ers’ defense, however, continues its deep hibernation into ignominy.

The 49ers gained a season-high 486 of total offense, but nothing could prevent the team from losing for the seventh consecutive time after an opening-week victory.

The offense committed costly turnovers and the defense did not provide any resistance in the New Orleans Saints’ 41-23 victory over the 49ers at Levi’s Stadium.

The 49ers’ seven-game losing streak is the franchise’s longest skid since an eight-game losing streak in 2007. The club record is nine straight losses in 1978. The 49ers’ next two games are at Arizona and back home against New England.

Another streak that continued was the 49ers’ ineptitude in run defense.

New Orleans running back Mark Ingram became the seventh consecutive opponent to eclipse 100 yards rushing against the 49ers. Ingram did not start, but he gained 158 yards on 15 rushing attempts. Tim Hightower added 87 yards on 23 carries.

Fozzy Whitaker (Carolina), Christine Michael (Seattle), Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas), David Johnson (Arizona), LeSean McCoy (Buffalo) and Jacquizz Rodgers (Tampa Bay) previously ran for more than 100 yards against the 49ers in successive games, beginning in Week 2.

The Saints could have done just about anything they wanted against the 49ers’ defense. Quarterback Drew Brees completed 28 of 39 passes for 323 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.

The 49ers’ passing game, which entered the game ranked last in the NFL, had its best showing of the season in Colin Kaepernick’s third start.

Kaepernick completed 24 of 39 passes for 398 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Running back DuJuan Harris had a strong showing, as he got the start in place of injured Carlos Hyde.

Harris rushed for 59 yards on 10 rushing attempts. He also caught five passes for 83 yards. But Harris also lost a fumble in the fourth quarter.

Harris took a short toss on the right side from Kaepernick, then sprinted to the goal line, stepping through an attempted tackle by Saints safety Jairus Byrd to score on a 47-yard pass play to cut the Saints lead to 21-10 in the second quarter.

It took the Saints all of nine seconds to respond.

Running back Mark Ingram broke through an enormous hole and ran past flat-footed safety Antoine Bethea en route to a 75-yard touchdown.

Kaepernick’s short pass to tight end Vance McDonald resulted in a 65-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Harris made a block along the sideline to spring McDonald.

Kaepernick’s interception in the first quarter proved costly. He stared down intended receiver Jeremy Kerley, allowing Saints linebacker Craig Robinson ample time to break on the ball. Robinson made the interception and returned it 29 yards. Quinton Patton’s horse-collar tackle advanced the ball to the 49ers’ 12-yard line.

Four plays later, Brees found Michael Thomas for a 1-yard touchdown pass on a simple back-shoulder throw at the left front corner of the end zone against Jimmie Ward for a 14-3 lead.

Injury report
Defensive lineman Arik Armstead exited after just five plays with an aggravation of the left shoulder condition that has plagued him since training camp. Armstead was re-injured on a play in which New Orleans Saints running back Tim Hightower gained 3 yards. Armstead also left the 49ers’ Oct. 23 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the shoulder condition.

Armstead did not participate in the exhibition season after sustaining the injury in training camp. At one point, Armstead said his shoulder might require surgery after the season. He entered Sunday’s game tied for the team-lead with 2.5 sacks.

This ‘n’ that
--Kicker Phil Dawson was 3-for-3 on field-goal attempts, making kicks of 49, 48 and 46 yards.

--Wide receiver Quinton Patton caught six passes for 106 yards. His previous career-high was 70 yards against the Atlanta Falcons last season.

--Kaepernick went over the 2,000-yard rushing mark in his career. Kaepernick gained 23 yards, giving him 2,005 yards on the ground in his six-year career.

--Quintin Dial made the start at nose tackle in place of Mike Purcell, who was deactivated after starting the first five games of the season and serving as a backup to Dial the previous two games.

--Harris’ touchdown was the first receiving score of his career. His last touchdown of any kind was Jan. 12, 2013, for the Green Bay Packers in a playoff game against the 49ers.

--The Saints settled for a 26-yard field goal at the end of the first half when the 49ers employed a strategy to not give Brees any open receivers on a play from the 13-yard line with :08 remaining. Jimmie Ward, Keith Reaser and Eric Reid all tackled receivers before they could get into their routes. After the play, the Saints had just :04 on the clock and had to kick the short field goal.

--Running back Mike Davis, who started the first game in which Carlos Hyde sat this season, did nothing to increase his odds of more playing time. Davis’ second rushing attempt of the game resulted in a fumble at the Saints’ 1-yard early in the third quarter.

--The 49ers entered the game as the least-penalized team in the NFL. On Sunday, they were flagged nine times for 78 yards.

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.