Instant Replay: 49ers comeback falls short, lose to Seahawks in season finale

Instant Replay: 49ers comeback falls short, lose to Seahawks in season finale


SANTA CLARA – On a day in which the 49ers made plenty of news off the field, they had one final game to get through before heading into what promises to be a busy offseason.

The 49ers dropped their seventh consecutive game to the Seattle Seahawks, as the NFC West-champions rallied and then held on for a 25-23 victory on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium. The loss snapped the 49ers’ string of nine consecutive wins in home finales.

The 49ers on Friday fired general manager Trent Baalke, who said during his weekly appearance on the 49ers pregame show on radio station KNBR that attending the season finale was the “right thing to do.”

CEO Jed York is scheduled to meet with coach Chip Kelly after the game. York is expected to fire Kelly and begin the search for a coach-general manager pairing to set the organization in a different direction.

Kelly, who was known for an innovative passing game, was unable to get any production from the team’s offense. The 49ers’ passing attack ranked last in the NFL. And the defense was the worst in franchise history, setting franchise-worst marks in yards allowed in a season, point allowed and rushing yards allowed.

Colin Kaepernick, playing in what could be the final 49ers game of his career, started out hot. He completed his first 10 pass attempts for 144 yards through the first 25 minutes of the game.

Kaepernick completed 17 of 22 pass attempts for 215 yards with a passer rating of 122.3. His 9-yard touchdown pass to tight end Garrett Celek pulled the 49ers to within 25-23 with 5:42 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Kaepernick can opt out of his contract before the start of the new league year on March 9 to become an unrestricted free agent. If Kaepernick does not opt out, the 49res would be expected to release him to avoid paying his scheduled $14.9 million in salary and bonuses.

The 49ers took a 14-3 lead on Shaun Draughn’s two 1-yard touchdown runs – the later of which came on a fourth-and-goal play on the first play of the second quarter. Draughn got the start in place of Carlos Hyde, who sustained an MCL sprain last week in his left knee and was placed on injured reserve.

The 49ers’ backup running back, DuJuan Harris, helped the Seahawks get back into the game in the second quarter with a fumble near midfield that defensive end Frank Clark recovered and returned 27 yards.

Two plays later, Russell Wilson hit tight end Luke Willson for an 11-yard touchdown pass to cut the 49ers’ lead to 14-13.

Staley returns to action: Left tackle Joe Staley, who missed the previous three games due a hamstring injury, returned to the starting lineup on Sunday. Staley was named the winner of the Bill Walsh Award as the team’s MVP on Friday.

The 49ers’ starting offensive line consisted of Staley, left guard Andrew Gardner, center Zane Beadles, right guard Joshua Garnett and right tackle Trent Brown. Gardner saw his first action with the 49ers after signing as a free agent on Dec. 21.

This ‘n’ that
--Rookie cornerback Rashard Robinson sustained a left ankle injury and left the game in the second quarter and did not return. After being helped to the team bench, a cart transported Robinson to the locker room for further observation.

Robinson, a fourth-round draft pick, started seven games for the 49ers this season. He clinched the 49ers’ victory in Week 16 with an last-minute interception of Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff.

--The 49ers suited up only 45 players for the game – one fewer than allowed – due to tight end Je’Ron Hamm sustaining a serious left leg injury during pregame warmups. Hamm was fitted with an air cast and taken off the field on a cart.

--The 49ers scored their first safety since the 2013 season when Seattle long-snapper Nolan Frese airmailed a snap over punter Jon Ryan’s head and out of the back of the end zone in the third quarter.

--Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka made field goals of 31, 32, 33 and 28 yards.

--Wide receiver DeAndre Smelter, a fourth-round draft pick in 2015, had a 23-yard reception for his first NFL catch.

Dante Pettis' progress clear to 49ers teammates, coaches at minicamp

Dante Pettis' progress clear to 49ers teammates, coaches at minicamp

SANTA CLARA — Dante Pettis turned the right heads at 49ers minicamp last week. 

Quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo and Nick Mullens, as well as coach Kyle Shanahan, all noticed marked improvement in the receiver ahead of his second NFL season. 

Garoppolo has seen a physical transformation from Pettis. The QB thinks believes that Pettis' added muscle weight will help the receiver on the field. 

“Dante’s body is maturing,” Garoppolo said. “He’s coming out of breaks with power, he has speed. It doesn’t look like he’s moving very fast but really is. It’s a weird thing for a quarterback to get used to. He’s different than most guys running.”  

Garoppolo detailed how visually different Pettis’ speed is when you compare him to what Marquise Goodwin does. 

Those differences even extend to teammate -- and Olympic hopeful -- Marquise Goodwin. Garoppolo said that requires him to adjust when he's targeting Pettis. 

“Where Marquise looks like he’s running really fast, and he is running really fast, where with Dante it’s different,” Garoppolo said. “Being able to get on the same page with him, I think these last few weeks have been very important. 

“It’s just different. It’s hard to describe unless you’re seeing it, but you’re trying to throw it while he’s coming out of a break, but he comes out of break differently than most guys. It’s so hard on the defense that you really just know he’s going to get open, you just don’t want to miss him.”  

Pettis' physical change was clear to Shanahan, too. But Shanahan has also noticed improvements on the mental side, and said he thinks Pettis' hunger to improve is clear. 

“When I saw him the first week he got back to see the size that he had put on, not that he’s going to be real noticeably different to everyone, but he worked while he was gone,” Shanahan said. “He worked while he was away. He tried to get bigger. 

“He worked more at his routes and he came here with the idea of ‘Hey, I’m not just coming here to get better back in shape, I’m coming here to get better.’”

Pettis has said he is more comfortable in the 49ers' offense with a year of experience, and that was clear to Mullens.

“Yeah you can tell,” Mullens said. “You know, Dante has always had the physical talent of being so shaky, making guys miss and routing guys up. Now he doesn’t have to think about the play, he can go naturally do that.

“So things are coming very natural for him he’s making a lot of plays out there and it’s great to see. It’s been awesome to see him develop.” 

[RELATED: Will 49ers trade QBs Beathard or Mullens?]

Pettis isn't hesitating, and his confidence is clear. When you combine that with his physical and mental development, the young receiver seems ready to have a bigger role in his second NFL season.

“He’s making a lot of plays, being very consistent, and Dante can set the speed," Mullens said. "I think you guys have been able to see that and so he’s making a lot of plays and he’s a great teammate.” 

Will 49ers look to trade backup QBs C.J. Beathard or Nick Mullens?

Will 49ers look to trade backup QBs C.J. Beathard or Nick Mullens?

One of the major competitions being waged on the 49ers’ practice field is for a spot the club hopes will never be asked to play a significant role this season.

The 49ers’ hopes for the season hinge in large part on quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo playing at a high level for 16 games. Behind him, in a too-close-to-call competition are C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens.

Once training camp opens in late-July, the competition for the backup role will heat up. Mullens outplayed Beathard last year, but all that did was create a level playing field for the competition that will ensue this summer.

This week marked the conclusion of the team’s official offseason program. Here are some questions submitted via Facebook:

What's the likelihood we trade one of our backup QBs to a team that loses a QB to injury? ( David Cummings)
The 49ers have three options:
1. Cut C.J. Beathard or Nick Mullens.
2. Keep three QBs on their 53-man roster.
3. Trade Beathard or Mullens.

Of those three options, there is no question the 49ers would rather trade one of their reserve quarterbacks.

I’m of the opinion right now that they are fine with either Beathard or Mullens as the backup to Jimmy Garoppolo. If another team feels a need to add a backup, I believe the 49ers would be open to trading either one – whichever player the other team wants more and will attract the better compensation.

Will Robbie be the starting kicker come the start of the regular season? (Richard Burley)
Robbie Gould has not publicly stated his intention, other than he has demanded a trade. (The 49ers said, in essence, “No, thanks. We want you to be our kicker.”)

It is difficult to imagine that Gould would forfeit more than $290,000 per game. The 49ers expect him to be on the field in Week 1 of the regular season. Jonathan Brown was the only kicker to participate in the offseason program. Right now, he’s their insurance policy.

Is there a possibility after the cutdowns start the 49ers will possibly pick up a savvy veteran guard or center considering the uncertainty and shakiness of our interior offensive line? (John Mayfield)
Based on their approach this offseason, the 49ers do not agree with your description of “uncertainty” and “shakiness” as it pertains to the interior of their offensive line.

There’s always a possibility of picking up someone for depth, but the addition of Ben Garland, who can play both guard and center, likely took care of that.

From what you've seen Matt, which WR has impressed you and the coaching staff the most? (Paul Martinez)
The 49ers’ top-two receivers during the offseason program were Dante Pettis and Trent Taylor. If Taylor remains healthy, he should benefit greatly from the tutelage of new receivers coach Wes Welker.

Considering the size of the front seven on defense are there concerns about our potential to defend against the run with the new Wide 9 scheme? (R.L. Stephens)
That is precisely why the 49ers’ defense now has three smaller, quicker stack linebackers. The Wide 9 is designed for the defensive ends to set the edge quicker to force running backs to cut inside earlier.

It also puts far more pressure on the linebackers to step up and cover more ground to prevent big plays on those plays.

Who is a name that might be a surprise cut before the 53-man roster is made? (Michael Tavares)
If I write the name here, he won’t be a surprise cut, right?

I’ll give you three players to watch. At first, I thought Marquise Goodwin might have a difficult time making the team. But he looked really good during the offseason program, and he does give the 49ers they don’t have anywhere else with his speed.

Veteran linebacker Malcolm Smith will have to earn his way. Elijah Lee and Dre Greenlaw look good, and they have special-teams value, too. Tight end Garrett Celek will be trying to come back from back surgery. I think he faces some pretty big odds at this stage of his career to remain on the team.

[RELATED: Kyle Shanahan believes 49ers can overcome injuries this season]

Who are the starting safeties at the beginning of the season? (Nick Gillo)
Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt. (Insert the obligatory, “If healthy.”)

With Shanahan talking about having great depth, predict the biggest 2020 offseason needs. (Jeff Bratton)
I predict the biggest needs for next season will be determined by what happens this season.