Matt Maiocco

Three things you need to know from 49ers' 26-24 loss to Washington

Three things you need to know from 49ers' 26-24 loss to Washington

LANDOVER, Md. -- Three things you need to know about the 49ers’ 26-24 loss to Washington in Week 6 on Sunday:

1. Beathard takes over
Rookie C.J. Beathard replaced struggling Brian Hoyer in the second quarter. And, now, there is no reason to go backward. Beathard will get the remainder of the season to show what he can do.

When asked if Beathard showed enough to earn him the job as the permanent starter over Hoyer, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan answered, “Yes, he did.”

Beathard was not perfect. He completed 19 of 36 passes for 245 yards with one touchdown and one interception. But he brought a whole new attitude to the 49ers. Hoyer’s play did not inspire anybody. Beathard brings a much-needed spark to the 49ers with his competitiveness and toughness.

He helped rally the 49ers from a 17-point deficit in the second quarter to pull the 49ers even. Then, he nearly moved the 49ers into field-goal range before a controversial penalty complicated matters in the final minute of the game.

It is much too early to tell whether Beathard can be the 49ers’ quarterback of the future. But we know that Hoyer certainly is not that guy. Any chance of him finding a long-term home with his seventh NFL team in nine seasons is over.

2. A losing streak like none other
The 49ers became the first team in NFL history to lose five consecutive games by three points or less. Just like the four previous weeks, the 49ers had their chances. On Sunday, they again felt as if a bad call went against them at the most inopportune moment.

The 49ers moved the ball to the Washington 40 with :28 remaining. Shanahan said if the 49ers did not gain another yard, he would have sent out kicker Robbie Gould for a 58-yarder to win the game.

Instead, the 49ers never got that chance because veteran wide receiver Pierre Garçon was called for offensive pass interference for what was deemed an illegal pick play. Garçon was apoplectic as he pleaded his case with the officials. Shanahan was not pleased, either.

“I saw a slant route on a flat route and the guy guarding the flat route ran into a guy (Garçon),” Shanahan said.

When asked if a penalty flag for a pick can be thrown against the intended receiver, Shanahan said, “No. Absolutely not.”

The 49ers are finding a way to lose these close games, whether it's because of their league-high number of penalties, dropped passes, problems with the run game and a defense that has not buckled down in key moments.

And while it might be true that one questionable call is not enough to lose a game, the 49ers need that assistance because they have been unable to help themselves in those game-deciding moments over the past five weeks.

3. Moving on from Bowman
The 49ers’ defense got off to a slow start Sunday just two days after the release of four-time All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman. Washington moved briskly down the field for a game-opening touchdown drive.

But, then, the 49ers defense started to settle in. Reuben Foster was deemed not ready to return from a high ankle sprain. Brock Coyle and Ray-Ray Armstrong started and helped the 49ers limit Washington to 94 rushing yards on 33 attempts for a 2.8 average. But both struggled mightily in pass coverage, according to Pro Football Focus. Combined, they surrendered 11 catches on 12 targets for 213 yards and one TD.

Foster is expected to be back for next week’s game against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium, and the 49ers can really begin the process of working with the players they expect to build around for the future.

A transition also appears to be happening at strong safety, where Jaquiski Tartt has put himself into position to take Eric Reid’s job. Reid was back in uniform after missing three games with a knee injury. But Tartt started, and Reid was used only as a sixth defensive back in passing situations.

Instant Analysis: Beathard, 49ers battle back but remain winless

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USATSI

Instant Analysis: Beathard, 49ers battle back but remain winless

BOX SCORE

LANDOVER, Md. – Coach Kyle Shanahan targeted Brian Hoyer to be his quarterback on the first day of free agency.

On Sunday, Shanahan felt as if he had no choice but to officially admit his mistake. And the 49ers saw an immediate improvement in the play of their struggling offense.

Rookie C.J. Beathard took over for Hoyer, who was benched in the second quarter after another poor performance, and helped the 49ers rally from a 17-point deficit.

But it ended up being the same old story for the winless 49ers, falling short in their comeback attempt Sunday with a 26-24 loss to Washington at FedEx Field.

Hoyer completed just four of his 11 pass attempts for 34 yards to prompt Shanahan to make the call to the bullpen. Beathard completed 19 of 36 passes for 245 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Beathard did not attempt a pass in the 49ers’ first five games of the season.

The 49ers rallied from a 17-0 deficit to tie the game on Carlos Hyde’s second 1-yard scoring run of the day. The play was set up when Ray-Ray Armstrong stripped former 49ers tight end Vernon Davis after a short completion.

Safety Jimmie Ward scooped up the loose ball and returned it 43 yards to the 1. (The play was originally ruled a touchdown. After a review, referee John Parry announced Ward stepped out of bounds 1 ½ yards from the goal line.)

The 49ers entered the game with four consecutive losses by three points or left. The club was also playing its third road game in three weeks to cap a tumultuous week, which included the team’s decision to release veteran linebacker NaVorro Bowman on Friday.

Two days later, the 49ers moved on from another veteran player – the quarterback who was brought to the team to run Shanahan’s offense. Hoyer previously played under Shanahan while both men were with the Cleveland Browns in 2014.

But Hoyer could not find any consistency once the season began with the 49ers – his seventh team in nine NFL seasons.

Hoyer ranked near the bottom of nearly every passing category. He has completed 119 of 205 pass attempts (58 percent) for 1,245 yards with four touchdowns, four interceptions and a passer rating of 74.1.

Finally, Shanahan had seen enough.

Beathard appeared to provide the 49ers with a spark at the end of the first half after falling behind 17-0. The 49ers drove 75 yards in 11 plays and scored on Hyde’s 1-yard run on fourth down just before halftime.

Washington built a 17-point lead on Kirk Cousins’ two touchdown passes in the first half. Cousins completed 25 of 37 pass attempts for two touchdowns and one interception.

Washington took a 20-17 lead with 10:34 remaining in regulation on a short field goal after the 49ers’ defense stiffened near the goal line on good plays from Ward, Solomon Thomas and Dontae Johnson.

REID RETURNS
Safety Eric Reid returned to action after missing the past three games with a knee injury. But he did not step back into his starting role.

Jaquiski Tartt retained his starting role at strong safety. Reid entered the game when the 49ers went with six defensive backs, mostly in third-down situations.

THIS ‘N’ THAT
--Rookie Solomon Thomas recorded his second sack of the season, throwing Cousins for a 5-yard loss in the second quarter.

--The 49ers lost two defensive starters due to injuries. Arik Armstead sustained a hand injury in the second quarter and did not return. Aaron Lynch left with a calf injury in the third quarter that occurred as he was chasing Cousins from the pocket.

--With Reuben Foster declared inactive, the 49ers started Brock Coyle at inside linebacker, alongside Ray-Ray Armstrong. Coyle took over calling the 49ers’ defensive signals in the huddle.

--Robbie Gould made a 52-yard field goal in the third quarter to pull the 49ers to within 17-10. It was the 32nd consecutive made field goal for Gould, dating back to the 2015 season. But Gould’s streak ended on his next attempt, when he missed wide right from 47 yards.

--Rookie Trent Taylor busted a 39-yard punt return in the third quarter to set the 49ers up at midfield on the drive that ended with Gould’s miss.

--One play after Ward’s interception was overturned on review, cornerback Rashard Robinson made an over-the-shoulder interception of a deep Cousins pass. It was the second interception of Robinson’s career.

--Seven members of the 49ers took a knee and held their hands over their chests during the playing of the national anthem in silent protest of racial inequality in America. Those players were Reid, Marquise Goodwin, Adrian Colbert, Dekoda Watson (inactive), Eli Harold, Armstead and K’Waun Williams.

49ers bench Brian Hoyer in Washington, rookie C.J. Beathard takes over

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AP

49ers bench Brian Hoyer in Washington, rookie C.J. Beathard takes over

LANDOVER, Md. – Coach Kyle Shanahan has said he would not hesitate to make a change at quarterback if he felt it would help the 49ers’ offense.

Shanahan finally made that move on Sunday with the 49ers trailing Washington, 14-0, and the team’s offense going nowhere in the first half.

Rookie C.J. Beathard entered the game with 6:39 remaining in the second quarter to replace struggling veteran starter Brian Hoyer.

Hoyer has played inconsistently this season, and he got off to another slow start on Sunday. Hoyer completed just four of 11 pass attempts for 34 yards before Shanahan gave him the hook.

Beathard, who did not attempt a pass in the 49ers’ first five games, entered and immediately completed his first pass of the game – a 13-yard throw to tight end Garrett Celek over the middle. The 49ers ended up punting at the end of Beathard's first series, as former Iowa teammate George Kittle dropped a third-down pass that would have netted a first down.

The 49ers traded up into the back end of the third round to select Beathard in the draft. The 49ers carry just two quarterbacks on their 53-man roster.

Beathard completed 6 of 14 pass attempts in the first half for 89 yards. He led the 49ers down the field late in the second quarter, and Carlos Hyde scored on a 1-yard touchdown drive to cut Washington’s lead to 17-7 at halftime.