INDIANAPOLIS -- Three things you need to know about the 49ers’ 26-23 loss to the Colts in Week 5 on Sunday:
1. Close is not good enough
The 49ers have not figured out this whole winning thing. Kyle Shanahan’s team is 0-5. After a blowout loss in Week 1, the 49ers have dropped their past four games by a total of 11 points.
The 49ers lost in overtime for the second week in a row. Trailing by 14 points at the midpoint of the fourth quarter, the fact the 49ers forced overtime against Indianapolis was a minor miracle.
Quarterback Brian Hoyer could not get things going until the final eight minutes of the fourth quarter. He finished with a more-than-respectable stat line, completing 29 of 46 pass attempts for 353 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
But when the 49ers had a chance to win the game in overtime, they could not capitalize.
The defense kept the team in the game for much of the day, including Ray-Ray Armstrong’s interception at the goal line to open overtime. But the defense did not get the big stop when it was needed. Colts running back Marlon Mack got around the corner on a 35-yard run in overtime to set up the winning field goal.
In short, the 49ers have found a way to lose every week. And things are not going to be getting any easier. The 49ers’ upcoming games are at Washington, vs. Dallas, at Philadelphia and vs. Arizona.
2. Is Bowman getting phased out?
Linebacker NaVorro Bowman has not been a role player since his first season in the NFL. And he does not appear ready to accept that role now after being named first-team All-Pro selection in all four of his full NFL seasons. But Bowman appears to have slowed down dramatically, and the coaching staff has determined he is a liability in coverage.
The 49ers’ coaching staff decided the defense could be better if Bowman is given some time to rest during the course of a game, too. Brock Coyle came off the sideline to play at least three defensive series on Sunday.
“They’re doing what they want to do, and . . . I don’t know. I don’t like it. Nobody likes coming out of the game, but I’m a team player,” Bowman said.
“They told me. But it’s hard to do that in the midst of a tough game. No player likes being taken out.”
We could be seeing the end of Bowman with the 49ers. He is scheduled to make $9.45 million next season in salary and bonuses, and the 49ers certainly are not going to pay that kind of money to a linebacker whose playing time is being cut back.
3. Kittle emerges in fourth
Looking for a bright spot? Rookie tight end George Kittle came through with a big fourth quarter to help the 49ers pull even and force overtime.
Kittle caught seven passes for 83 yards to exceed by 1 yard his total receiving output of the first four games combined. And Kittle came through in the clutch, too.
Hoyer looked for him when it mattered, and Kittle came through. He kept the late-fourth-quarter drive alive with a 19-yard reception on a fourth-and-1 play. Then, on a fourth-and-goal play from the 5 with time running out in regulation, Kittle caught a short pass and powered his way into the end zone with Colts rookie safety Malik Hooker on his back.