49ers

Instant Replay: 49ers blow lead to Jets, lose 12th in a row

Instant Replay: 49ers blow lead to Jets, lose 12th in a row

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SANTA CLARA – Quick starts have not been a problem for the 49ers this season.

On Sunday, the 49ers scored first against the New York Jets and held a 14-point lead in the first half. And, once again, the 49ers squandered the lead at the end of the regulation as Nick Folk hit a 50-yard field goal with :38 remaining to force overtime.

In a season of horrendous losses, this was easily the worst for a 49ers team that now has lost 12 consecutive games.

Jets running back Bilal Powell broke over left tackle for a 19-yard touchdown with 8:41 remaining in the extra period to cap the Jets’ first possession of overtime for a 23-17 victory over the beleaguered 49ers in front of as many no-shows as fans at Levi’s Stadium.

Running back Carlos Hyde was stopped for no gain up the middle on a fourth-and-2 play on the 49ers’ opening drive of overtime to set up the Jets’ winning score.

The Jets pulled to within a field goal on Powell’s 5-yard touchdown run. Quarterback Bryce Petty got into the end zone on the two-point conversion to cut the 49ers’ lead to 17-14 with 5:04 remaining in regulation.

Powell finished with 145 yards and two touchdowns rushing.

The 49ers managed just 47 total yards of offense and two first downs in the second half to enable New York to tie the game.

The 49ers scored first for the 10th time this season. Earlier this season, the 49ers had 14-0 leads over Dallas and Tampa Bay at Levi’s Stadium before squandering those advantages into losses of 24-17 and 34-17.

The only other teams to lose nine games in a game when scoring first since 1940 are the 2011 Miami Dolphins and 1990 Denver Broncos, according to Pro Football Reference.

The 49ers got a strong start from running back Carlos Hyde, who gained 141 yards on just seven rushing attempts in the first half. He also caught a 7-yard touchdown pass on the team’s first offensive snap of the game.

Hyde finished with a career-high 193 yards on 17 rushing attempts.

Colin Kaepernick got off to a good start after being benched in the fourth quarter last week against the Chicago Bears. Kaepernick became the first quarterback in NFL history with fewer than 5 yards passing and five sacks in the same game.

Kaepernick completed his first seven pass attempts for 95 yards before cooling off.

He finished the game with 15 completions on 26 pass attempts for 133 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. After the 49ers took a 17-3 lead late in the second quarter, the 49ers’ offense went dormant for much of the second half.

Petty, making his second career start, got the call in place of struggling veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. Petty, a second-year player from Baylor, completed 23 of 35 passes for 257 yards.

Corner theft
Through 12 games, the 49ers had not recorded an interception from their cornerbacks. But that changed Sunday on the first pass attempt of the game of New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty.

Cornerback Jimmie Ward jumped Quincy Enunwa’s route on the right side for the interception. He returned the ball 8 yards before losing his footing at the Jets’ 7-yard line. It was the second interception of Ward’s three-year career.

On the 49ers’ first offensive play of the game, Kaepernick hit Hyde for a 7-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

The 49ers’ other starting cornerback, Tramaine Brock, who has 10 career interception, has been shut out this season.ß

Injury report

Wide receiver Torrey Smith, tight end Vance McDonald and center Daniel Kilgore sustained injuries that forced them out of Sunday’s game.

Smith sustained concussion in the third quarter Sunday and did not return to action. Smith went up, along with New York Jets cornerback Juston Burris, for a deep pass from Colin Kaepernick in the third quarter. Smith jumped for the ball, which landed incomplete, and appeared to land on his head and shoulder area.

He remained motionless on the Levi’s Stadium turf for several seconds. After the team’s medical staff encircled him, Smith sat up after several moments. He was taken off the field on a cart and transported to the locker room area for further examination.

Kilgore sustained a leg injury in the first quarter and was immediately ruled out from a return. Kilgore was injured on a play in which quarterback Colin Kaepernick completed a 6-yard pass to Quinton Patton. Kilgore remained on the ground, grabbing behind his right leg.

McDonald, whom the 49ers signed to a five-year contract extension on Friday, sustained a shoulder injury in the first half and did not return, either. Garrett Celek replaced McDonald in the lineup.

Marcus Martin, who started the game at left guard, moved to center in place of Kilgore. Martin started 14 games last season while Kilgore was recovering from a fractured lower leg sustained during the 2014 season.

The Jets were also hit by a key injury in the first quarter, as running back Matt Forte was ruled out with a knee injury. Forte had 8 yards on three rushing attempts before the injury.

The 49ers led 14-0 at the end of one quarter.

This ‘n’ that
--The 49ers entered the game with just 20 sacks in the first two games. On Sunday, the recorded six sacks. Rookie DeForest Buckner had two sacks, tying him with Ahmad Brooks for the team lead with five on the season.

--Kicker Phil Dawson missed field-goal attempts of 44 and 48 yards in the first half to snap a streak of 14 consecutive makes. His only previous miss was a 53-yard attempt on Sept. 25 at Seattle. Dawson made a 47-yard field goal later in the first half to provide the 49ers with a 17-3 lead.

-- Five-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley missed his first game since the beginning of the 2011 season – a streak that included 100 consecutive games, including eight postseason contests. Staley was ruled out with a hamstring injury.

Staley had the third-longest active streak among offensive tackles with 92 consecutive starts. Only Cleveland's Joe Thomas (157) and Oakland's Donald Penn (153) rank ahead of him on the list.

--Zane Beadles moved to left tackle to replace Staley. Marcus Martin, who started 14 games last season at center, got the start at left guard over Andrew Tiller, who started the first five games of the season at right guard. Tiller entered the game in the first half after Kilgore’s injury with Martin shifting to center.

--In addition to Ward’s first interception, he also picked up his first sack of season. Ward came off the edge on a corner blitz to throw Petty for a 7-yard loss on a third-and-6 play in the second quarter.

--Outside linebacker Aaron Lynch recorded a half-sack near the end of the first half. Lynch has appeared in just four games this season. He sat out the first four games due to a suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on substances of abuse. Lynch returned to action Sunday after missing the previous five games with a high-ankle sprain.

What 49ers need to do in last six weeks, according to Kyle Shanahan

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USATSI

What 49ers need to do in last six weeks, according to Kyle Shanahan

Editor’s note: The 49ers break for the bye week with a 2-8 record. This is part of a series that recaps the first 10 games with an eye to the future. In this installment, we look at what the 49ers need to show in the final six games.

After the five-game win streak the 49ers posted at the end of the 2017 season, having just two wins after Week 10 in 2018 isn’t what anyone expected. Barring a miracle, the 49ers won’t make it to the postseason, but there is still a lot to play for. 

Before his players left the facility for their week off, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan gave them a few things to think about. His most important message was that the season is far from over.

“I want them to really reflect on the season so far,” Shanahan said, “and what they want coming back in these six games. We’ve got six games coming back. Lot of football to play, and a lot of important football to play.

“I want them to sit there and really think of what their goals are for the rest of the half. Do they want to solidify themselves as a starter, a backup? Do they want to be a part of it here? Do they want to be one of the answers or a solution to what we're going through?

“And really when they think about all that and they understand it all and what they want, which I'm sure they all have high aspirations, I want their actions to come back and show that.”

Shanahan himself reflected on the way the team finished in 2017. He noted how several rookies stepped up when called upon. He is looking for the same type of effort and performance at the end of the current season to determine who is deserving of a place at the table. 

[RELATED: Mullens earns respect from Shanahan]

There is a lot to prove for several bubble players who need to show they are worthy of a roster spot. Many have had substantial playing time as a result of injuries. Players such as safety Antone Exum Jr., and linebacker Elijah Lee find themselves playing for a future spot with the 49ers or even another team.

Shanahan and his staff will look at everything heading into the second half of the season. That includes the mettle of their players from the top tier to the bottom. Even though players such as tight end George Kittle, defensive lineman DeForest Buckner and cornerback Richard Sherman have played very well through their 10 games, Shanahan says they always can do better.

“I think there are guys that are doing some good things,” Shanahan said. “But, even the guys who are doing the best, I still think there's even more.”

Shanahan put the onus on himself and his staff to get more from their players as well.

“My goal is to get our guys to play the best they possibly can,” he said. “Whoever is in our building, to get them to play the best they can. I believe that we can get more out of our guys. I believe that's up to myself, I believe that’s up to coaches, and I believe it's up to the players.” 

At the conclusion of 2018, both Shanahan and general manager John Lynch will have four years remaining on their six-year contracts. Yet, they both know there is no time for regression, and player injuries are no excuse. They need to show progress, and they need to do it consistently and immediately. 

“You're always playing for something,” Shanahan said. “This league does not have patience. I don't have patience. No one in this league has patience.” 

Why 49ers' biggest disappointment is their second-year defensive players

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AP

Why 49ers' biggest disappointment is their second-year defensive players

Editor’s note: The 49ers break for the bye week with a 2-8 record. This is part of a series that recaps the first 10 games with an eye to the future. In this installment, we look at the team’s biggest disappointment.

A lot of the optimism surrounding the 49ers’ season was based on the projected improvements at every level of the defense from the team’s top three picks of the 2017 draft.

Defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, the No. 3 overall pick in the draft, was expected to make a considerable leap from his three-sack rookie season.

Linebacker Reuben Foster, a first-round draft pick, was being counted on to emerge into one of the NFL’s top sideline-to-sideline playmakers, as a sure-tackler and turnover-creating machine.

And cornerback Ahkello Witherspon, a third-round selection, was expected to continue to build on his encouraging rookie season to supply the 49ers with a rising performer on the other side of veteran Richard Sherman.

The fact Thomas, Foster and Witherspoon have not made improvements over their rookie seasons rates as the 49ers’ biggest disappointment through 10 games.

Thomas has endured the most hardships, which began early in the offseason when his sister died of suicide. On the field, he has not been able to earn significant playing time as part of the 49ers’ defensive line rotation.

The plan was for Thomas to start at “Leo,” the team’s pass-rush end, then move inside to rush the passer on third downs. But during the New York Giants’ game-winning drive on Monday night, Thomas was not on the field for any of the plays when the 49ers needed to generate a pass rush.

Foster’s offseason development was impacted when he was forced to remain away from the building to deal with criminal charges of domestic violence. A judge ruled there was not enough evidence to proceed with the case. But Foster was suspended for two games at the start of the season for violations of the NFL’s policies on substances of abuse and personal conduct.

Foster has appeared in only six games. He missed the past two games with a hamstring injury. When he has been on the field, he has not produced, either. He nursed a nagging shoulder injury. Foster’s 12 missed tackles is worst on the team, according to Pro Football Focus.

Witherspoon struggled to open the season, as opposing teams isolated him while ignoring Sherman’s side of the field. He lost his starting job early in the season. He started the past four games, as the 49ers enter the bye week.

Witherspoon has been targeted 50 times, according to PFF. He has surrendered 30 catches for 339 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions. The opposition’s passer rating against Witherspoon is 113.7.

General manager John Lynch told NBC Sports Bay Area that he expects to see more from Thomas, Foster and Witherspoon in the final six games of the season to create some momentum for 2019.

“He’s got to really start being the player we all know he can be,” Lynch said of Thomas.

As for Foster and Witherspoon, Lynch said, “I expect to see great progress from them.”