GLENDALE, Ariz. -- How many times can the 49ers be so close to a win that they can taste it?
They lost yet another game in the final minutes Sunday, dropping an 18-15 decision that gave the Cardinals their second win of the season. Both of those wins have come at San Francisco's expense.
This skid is similar to last season when the 49ers lost five games in a row by three points or less in Weeks 2 to 6. The main difference is that the expectations were much lower last season. The 49ers finished 2017 with a five-game winning streak and a franchise quarterback in the building. Predictions for 2018 had the playoffs as a real possibility.
49ers coach Kyle Shanahan stayed humble about the way his team finished 2017, but this still isn't the season he expected. Not at 1-7, with three more losses of three points or less.
“It’s tough,” Shanahan said. “Guys are really hurting in there, and they should be. If they weren’t, something's wrong with them. But it’s our job. It's what we do. It's our livelihood. We’re not happy at all with where this season has gone, and there's still a half a season to play.
“So, we need to step it up and do something about it. Season's not ending. We’re not going to sit here and run away. I want guys who are going to come out and fight, and I thought our guys did fight today. We just didn’t do it well enough.
"I’m going to continue coaching them, trying to get us better in every aspect. I know our guys are working to get better, but we weren’t good enough today. Thursday [against the Raiders] can’t come quick enough.”
Quarterback C.J. Beathard had a slow start to the day, but he managed to gain momentum in the third quarter. He finished the day completing 14 of his 28 passes for 190 yards, one touchdown and an 83.9 rating. He's no stranger to the close losses, having lived through them last season, too.
“Yeah, I mean, there’s so many of them that we feel like we could’ve or should’ve won,” Beathard said. “But it comes down to we didn’t, and we are where we are right now, and we’ve got eight games left. We’ve got to keep moving.”
Cornerback Richard Sherman hasn't been a part of a losing NFL franchise since his first season with the Seahawks in 2011. He still believes in the 49ers' mental resolve.
“We’re fighting,” Sherman said. “We’re fighting. Unfortunately, we’re not getting the results. These have been some of the toughest losses I’ve seen. We fought the whole game [Sunday], and they made plays the last four, five minutes, and we didn’t.
"Guys have learned how to fight. If nothing else, we’re going to know how to fight today, and guys are doing it. We’ve got to just find a way to make those plays.”
Kendrick Bourne stepped in for Pierre Garçon, who was held out of the game with a knee injury, was the 49ers' top wide receiver, catching seven of his 10 targets for 71 yards. He has no questions about the team losing focus after such emotional losses.
“No doubt at all,” Bourne said. “Nobody is flinching. That game, the same way it happened the last time we played them, it’s just frustrating. We were dominating them and just not finishing what we need to. We got to figure out how to fix that.”
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Fullback Kyle Juszczyk believes that while the losses has been frustrating, it's a learning opportunity for the younger 49ers.
“It’s pretty taxing emotionally, to be totally honest with you,” Juszczyk said, “but you got to look for some positives. I see young guys getting used to being in critical situations. Right now, we’re kind of learning what not to do. That’s one positive I can draw from it.
“This team is incredibly resilient. I feel like we stay very positive. So, yeah, I feel like we are staying in it.”
The 49ers have a short week, playing the Raiders on Thursday night. They will need to shake off this loss and start preparing, which might be the best thing for them.