MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Down by 17 points in the fourth quarter on Sunday, there was little question the 49ers would end up on the losing end once again.
The 49ers rallied but came up 2 yards short of potentially sending the game into overtime. The team's 31-24 loss to the Miami Dolphins set the San Francisco franchise record with a 10th consecutive loss.
“The mentally we had as a team was, ‘Let’s go get this win,’” 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick said. “I thought our guys did a great job fighting until the very end.
“At the beginning of the game I asked them to go four quarters with me and they did. Our defense did a great job at the end to give us the opportunity to get the ball back and go score. We have to be able to finish these with touchdowns to give us an opportunity to win the game.”
Kaepernick threw for 296 yards and three touchdowns. He rushed for a 113 yards. But he was stopped short of the goal line when he took off running after failing to spot anyone open in the end zone as time expired.
“It’s tough, because you work all week just like any other week,” 49ers center Daniel Kilgore said. “We had a good week of practice and first drive we marched down the field, score. A couple of drives later, a turnover. It never felt out like we were out of it. We just have to make the plays when we’re called on.
“That’s a good defensive front. I felt like we handled them pretty well, but the ball didn’t bounce our way, and we got to come back and get better the next week.”
The 49ers lost by at least 12 points in six of their first seven games along their record-setting streak. The 49ers lost to the Arizona Cardinals 23-20 on Nov. 13. Last week, they hung tough for a while in a 30-17 loss to the New England Patriots.
“This is the third week now where we were getting closer and closer to getting out of the hump,” 49ers tight end Vance McDonald said. “All you can ask for as an offense is a chance to win the game at the end. Again, it’s just frustrating the three weeks in a row where we’ve been right there, really close.”
In a rarity this season, the 49ers outgained Miami in total yards and first downs. The 49ers ran 15 more offensive plays and controlled the ball for only one minute less than the Dolphins.
“Honestly, I don’t think this one hurts no more than New England or the Dallas game, but they all hurt,” 49ers receiver Jeremy Kerley said. “To get that close and come up short, you just think back on all the things you could have done better.”
Two turnovers proved costly for the 49ers. Garrett Celek fumbled after reaching the Dolphins’ 15-yard line. And Torrey Smith had a Kaepernick pass deflect off his hands on the first play of the third quarter. The Dolphins turned those takeaways into 10 points.
“There are no moral victories,” Smith said. “But I think it doesn’t help when you know that you are capable of it. We’ve known that forever. We’ve just got to go out there and consistently do it and finish. That’s why we’ve lost so many games. We’ve been in every game, for the most part, and we haven’t been able to finish.”
Coach Chip Kelly and the 49ers flew to Orlando after Sunday’s game and will take part in practices this week at the University of Central Florida before traveling to Chicago. The 49ers return to action Sunday against the Bears.
Players up and down the roster remarked about how the team continues to approach every week with the same commitment toward getting back in the win column. Kelly said the 49ers should not be credited for merely not giving up.
“They’re professionals and I think they’re all competitors so I don’t know what they’d gain from packing it in,” Kelly said. “Is that going to make them feel better? They want to straighten this thing out so they’re going to go out and compete and we’ve got a bunch of competitors in there that want to go win.
“I don’t want anybody to pat them on the back and tell them that ‘Hey, you did a good job. You were close.’ They’re grown men, they want to win and they’ll continue to work that way. They’ve practiced great all year long. They’ve had great attitudes in terms of what they’ve got to do when we go out to the practice field and I don’t think that’s in anybody’s mindset. I think it is questions that are asked from the outside, but there’s never been a question about that from the inside.”