Top 5 takeaways from 49ers' 45-16 loss to Bills
One win, five losses
The San Francisco 49ers’ season is slipping away. Or, maybe, it has already slipped away. A day before the 49ers’ 45-16 loss to the Buffalo Bills, safety Eric Reid shared his thoughts about the importance of this game on his blog. He wrote, “If we want to make the playoffs, it starts with beating the Bills. We have to go to Buffalo and take care of business.”
The 49ers were closed for business on Sunday. The team hung around for one half, but were thoroughly beaten in the second half. The team has lost five consecutive games since opening the season with a 28-0 victory over the Los Angeles Rams. That victory, which provided the team and its fan base with hope, seems so very long ago.
5) Rare chances for wins
The 49ers had a better record a year ago at this time under one-and-done coach Jim Tomsula. The 49ers have fallen to 1-5. Their best hopes for victories are probably the next two games: At home against Tampa Bay, then another home game against New Orleans after the bye week.
There is not one aspect of the team that is playing acceptable football at this stage in the season. Everything is bad -- pass offense, run offense, pass defense, run defense and special teams. This is a team that looks to be even worse than it was a year ago.
4) Armstead, Buckner making marks
On a team with so many players showing so little, at least the 49ers are getting some production from their first-round draft picks of the past two seasons. Rookie defensive lineman DeForest Buckner recorded nine tackles, including two sacks. He also came up with a fumble recovery. Arik Armstead, the team’s top pick on 2015, had a sack and forced a fumble.
On the down side, things have not gone well for the team’s two prior top picks. Jimmie Ward missed his third consecutive game with a quad strain. And safety Eric Reid, in his contract year, struggled with his tackling and pass coverage. He gave up a long TD and was called for 22-yard pass-interference penalty.
3) Nowhere to run
Coach Chip Kelly blamed a lot of the 49ers’ problems in the second half on the team’s inability to run the ball. A key play occurred with four minutes remaining in the third quarter. The 49ers were down 17-13, and Kelly went for it on fourth and 1 from the Buffalo 40. Backup running back Mike Davis, who was stuffed on third and 1, was stopped again on fourth and 1.
Kelly made the decision to run the ball with Davis despite Hyde being temporarily out of the game with a shoulder injury. “It’s a bread-and-butter play that we run, but we just didn’t execute it,” Kelly said. “I don’t think he (Hyde) was available at that point in time.” Hyde returned to the game. He finished with 52 yards on 14 rushing attempts.
2) Defense shoved around
Buffalo’s LeSean McCoy became the fifth consecutive opposing running back to gash the 49ers for more than 100 yards rushing. And it did not stop there. Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor gained 68 yards, and backup running back Mike Gillislee added 60 yards, including a 44-yard TD run. The worst sequence was in the first half when McCoy tore off a 22-yard run on a third-and-20 play.
According to Pro Football Focus, the 49ers had 11 missed tackles. Nick Bellore, Michael Wilhoite and Reid had two apiece. The 49ers surrendered 312 yards rushing. The worst performance from their run defense in club history came in 1958 when the 49ers allowed 324 yards against the Los Angeles Rams.
1) QB change does not change much
The promotion of Colin Kaepernick into the starting lineup did not prove to be the elixir for which many 49ers fans had hoped. Kaepernick appeared to provide an upgrade over Blaine Gabbert in the first half, as the 49ers scored two field goals and a touchdown in their first four possessions.
But, all in all, it was the same inconsistent 49ers offense that was obvious in Gabbert’s five starts. Kaepernick completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes. Some of that can be explained by the stiff wind. Kelly declined to commit to Kaepernick starting next week, but he can be expected to get a little time to see if he can re-prove himself.