49ers

Shanahan, Mullens focused on 49ers reducing turnovers

49ers

The 49ers have turned the ball over more times this season than all but three NFL teams.

Thirteen of those 20 turnovers, or 65 percent, have happened in the 49ers' last five games.

Coach Kyle Shanahan knows taking care of the ball must be a focus as the 49ers try to keep their playoff hopes alive. 

The 49ers defense has done its part, especially in forcing two fumbles and two interceptions during the 23-20 win over the Los Angeles Rams last week. The group has forced 16 takeaways in 2020, tied for 13th in the league.

“If I had to give you one thing, just as a whole, as a group I really want to cut down our turnovers,” Shanahan said Thursday. “The games that we've lost, our turnovers had gotten way carried away and I thought they did last Sunday, too. 

“We were fortunate that our defense had four. That to me is the first thing we've got to fix and having guys out there a little bit more, I think, will give us a better chance to do that."

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The 49ers have dealt with numerous injuries, players on the Reserve/COVID-19 list and, even now, a relocation. Shanahan hopes that greater continuity from a healthier offense will help the 49ers reduce mistakes.

 

Quarterback Nick Mullens is excited to get some of his playmakers back on the field. He believes that a greater attention to detail will help the 49ers flip the margin in their favor. Mullens has thrown seven interceptions and lost two fumbles in his seven appearances this season.

“As a quarterback, it's the most important thing, protect the football,” Mullens said. “That's something that you have to work on, but I feel like the more preparation, keeping two hands on the ball in the pocket and just the harder you work at the small details, I feel like turnovers take care of themselves.” 

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The 49ers' running backs have done a good job securing the ball. Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr., JaMychal Hasty and fullback Kyle Juszczyk have each fumbled once, while Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon have not. The group has fumbled the ball on fewer than 1.5 percent of their rushing attempts this season, setting an example for the rest of the offense. 

“I know last game when we coughed a couple up, but that's the biggest thing, just focus on the details, high and tight,” Mullens said. “For me, crisp, sharp decisions, know where to go with the football and being strong in the pocket. So, it's really just hard work, focus, and working on the fundamentals and turnovers take care of themselves.”