Instant Replay: 49ers crushed by Falcons, fall to 1-13

Instant Replay: 49ers crushed by Falcons, fall to 1-13


ATLANTA – The shorthanded, overmatched and listless 49ers extended the club’s franchise-worst losing streak to an incomprehensible 13 consecutive games on Sunday.

The outcome was never in doubt, as the Atlanta Falcons scored touchdowns with ease on their first three possessions of the game and threw it on cruise control for a 41-13 victory over the 49eres at the Georgia Dome.

The Falcons (9-5) are guaranteed to retain at least a share of the NFC South lead, while the 49ers remain in contention for the No. 1 overall draft pick. The 49ers (1-13) kept pace with the Cleveland Browns, who were losers for the 14th time in 14 games.

The 49ers have never had a one-win season in franchise history. San Francisco’s remaining games are at the Los Angeles Rams on Christmas Eve, and the season-finale at Levi’s Stadium on Jan. 1 against the NFC West-champion Seattle Seahawks.

While sustaining another loss, the 49ers’ porous defense set a franchise record for rushing yards allowed in a single season. And, remember, the 49ers still have two games remaining.

In 1978, the 49ers allowed 2,363 rushing yards. The 49ers allowed the opposition to blow past that mark on Sunday. The Falcons rushed for 248 yards, and the 49ers have now surrendered 2,468 rushing yards through 14 games.

Falcons running back Devonta Freeman became the 11th opponent to rush for more than 100 yards. Freeman rushed for 139 yards and three touchdowns on 20 rushing attempts.

Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan padded his resume for possible NFL Player of the Year consideration. Ryan completed 17 of 23 pass attempts for 286 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating was a gaudy 144.5.

Colin Kaepernick, making his ninth consecutive start, completed 20 of 33 passes for 183 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Kaepernick was just one of seven for 8 yards in the third quarter.

Running back Carlos Hyde led the 49ers on the ground with 13 carries for 71 yards.

Hodges disciplined
Linebacker Gerald Hodges, who started the previous eight games, was deactivated for violating team rules, the 49ers announced before the game. His deactivation left the 49ers with just two inside linebackers in uniform to open the game.

Hodges’ misstep almost immediately became a factor when starter Nick Bellore sustained an elbow injury on the third play of the game.

Vinnie Sunseri replaced Bellore for the remainder of the first drive, which ended with Devonta Freeman’s 5-yard touchdown run. On the next series, veteran safety Antoine Bethea took over at inside linebacker. Then, it was Ahmad Brooks’ turn.

In 13 games this season, including 10 starts, Hodges entered the game ranked fifth on the 49ers with 75 tackles, according to the coaches film review. Hodges has career-highs with three sacks and two interceptions. He is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

Injury report
The 49ers lost five players due to injuries through the first three quarters: wide receiver Quinton Patton (foot), tight end Blake Bell (shoulder), center Marcus Martin (ankle), cornerback Jimmie Ward (shoulder), and Bellore (elbow).

Patton’s injury meant the 49ers played most of the game without their two starting outside receivers. Torrey Smith did not travel with the team to Atlanta due to a concussion he sustained a week earlier against the New York Jets.

Left tackle Joe Staley did not suit up due to a hamstring injury. Veteran guard Zane Beadles started at left tackle. He moved to center after Martin’s injury, which meant rookie John Theus took over for his first snaps of the season at left tackle.

This ‘n’ that
--Quarterback Christian Ponder was active for the first time this season, as he replaced Blaine Gabbert as Kaepernick’s backup. Gabbert started the first five games of the season, during which time the 49ers went 1-4. Ponder did not play.

--The 49ers opened the game with a three-and-out. On a third-and-1 play, slot receiver Jeremy Kerley was wide open as Kaepernick rolled to his left. Kaepernick’s pass was high, and Kerley made the ill-advised decision to try to catch it with one hand. The pass fell incomplete and the 49ers were forced to punt.

--The Falcons were within inches of scoring their fourth touchdown in their first four possessions of the game. But 49ers linebacker Michael Wilhoite ripped the ball out of Freeman’s hands at the goal line to force a turnover in the second quarter.

--In the first quarter, the 49ers were outgained 157 yards to 24. The 49ers’ only first down of the first quarter came on the final play, as Kaepernick hit Patton with a 12-yard gain. But on the first play of the second quarter, Patton lost 9 yards on a jet sweep shovel pass.

--Kicker Phil Dawson pushed an extra-point attempt wide left near the end of the first half, as the 49ers trailed 28-13 after 30 minutes of play. It was Dawson’s first missed field goal of the season.

--Rod Streater caught a 5-yard scoring pass from Kaepernick near the end of the first half. It was his first touchdown reception since the 2014 season, when he caught the first scoring pass from Derek Carr with the Raiders.

--The 49ers, who trailed 21-0, got on the scoreboard early in the second quarter on Kaepernick’s 16-yard scoring pass to tight end Garrett Celek.

49ers have No. 1 ranked backup QB situation in NFL with Nick Mullens

49ers have No. 1 ranked backup QB situation in NFL with Nick Mullens

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is done for the season. New Orleans Saints Drew Brees likely is out for the next two months. Carolina Panthers star Cam Newton is debilitated by a foot injury, and might miss Week 3 or even more. The New York Jets' starter has mononucleosis, and his backup is out for the year with an ankle injury. Tampa Bay Bucs signal-caller Jameis Winston continues to regress, and the Miami Dolphins have scored a grand total of one touchdown over two games.

We're just over two weeks into the NFL regular season, and several teams already have serious QB issues.

The 49ers aren't one of them, however. Jimmy Garoppolo looked much improved in San Francisco's 41-17 beatdown of the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2, in which he threw for 297 yards and tied his career high with three touchdown passes. And behind him, the 49ers have the man The Ringer's Riley McAtee ranked as the best backup in all of football.

That's right, Nick Mullens is the best backup signal-caller in the NFL according to McAtee, who cited Mullens' performance in place of an injured Garoppolo last year to support his claim.

"Mullens’ [adjusted net yards per attempt] of 6.7 was 15th-best in the league among the 33 passers who registered at least 200 attempts," McAtee wrote. "That may not be replicable over a larger sample size or in an offense that isn’t built by Kyle Shanahan, but it was an incredibly promising level of production for the then-rookie. To put that number into perspective, Andrew Luck registered a 5.7 ANY/A in his rookie season.

"Mullens is not the next Luck, of course, but if Garoppolo ever misses time," McAtee continued, "Niners fans should feel confident in their backup."

[RELATED: Why this Jimmy G play from 49ers' win made Shanahan proud]

In closing, McAtee used some colorful language to hammer his point.

"Look at the other 31 names on this list: Outside of teams with rookies on the bench, there is no other squad that can put the same faith in their backup. The Niners are the only team that wouldn’t be f----d."

So, relative to the rest of the NFL, the 49ers appear to be in great shape when it comes to their overall quarterback situation. As for the teams who aren't, well, perhaps San Francisco can assist them from a position of strength.

Why 49ers' hot start has Kyle Shanahan eyeing another long road tip

Why 49ers' hot start has Kyle Shanahan eyeing another long road tip

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan appears ready to make an executive decision without consulting his veteran players.

After the successes the 49ers experienced with back-to-back victories in the Eastern time zone to open the season, Shanahan said he wants to again have a 10-day road trip when the 49ers play at the Baltimore Ravens on Dec. 1, followed by a game at the New Orleans Saints the following Sunday.

“I think they know how it went, and I think they understand,” Shanahan said Monday upon the team’s return to Santa Clara. “I think everyone has different opinions, and I think no one will argue with the fact that it does make sense.”

Now, Shanahan said the pressure is on the 49ers’ travel logistics department of Steve Risser and Michael Slap to piece together the trip's details.

On The 49ers Insider Podcast, several members of the 49ers spoke about the advantage of the team spending the week to practice in Youngstown, Ohio, rather than traveling back to the Bay Area after the Week 1 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“All week we knew it was going to be a grind,” linebacker Fred Warner said. “We were in a new spot and those practices were tough and we grinded through them. We knew it would pay off in the end on Sunday. And, obviously, the result showed that. We came out firing with our hair on fire.”

The 49ers scored on seven of their first nine possessions in a 41-17 win Sunday and stretched their lead over the Cincinnati Bengals to 41-10 after the first play of the fourth quarter. Running back Raheem Mostert provided a big play early in the game when he blasted into the end zone on a 39-yard catch-and-run to give the 49ers a 14-7 lead. San Francisco came out energized, and Mostert’s speed in splitting the Bengals’ defense was apparent.

“The first couple of days (in Youngstown) we were trying to get acclimated to the change,” Mostert said. “It helped having the Tampa game because it was hot there. We came to Youngstown and there was more of a cool breeze, that brisk air.

“We had some challenges staying on the east coast, but we got through it. As you could see, that was the result.”

49ers cornerback Richard Sherman afterward admitted the decision to cut down on the back-and-forth travel was beneficial. But he said there were family issues that must be considered before the 49ers commit to another extended road trip later in the season.

“Obviously, we won this game and had a successful trip, so I’m sure we’ll take that into account,” Sherman said. “But I’m sure they’ll take what our wives have to say, and what his (Shanahan’s) wife has to say, and what the kids have to say.”

[RELATED: Why Riddick says 49ers are best fit for star CB Ramsey]

Sherman joked that the traveling party might be bigger next time because the wives and children of the players and coaches might want to be included, too.

“We might be taking a bigger trip with a bigger group of people, because it would be another 10 days without the family in the middle of December or November -- whenever it is,” he said.