Kelly: 49ers deserve no credit for not giving up

Kelly: 49ers deserve no credit for not giving up

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Down by 17 points in the fourth quarter on Sunday, there was little question the 49ers would end up on the losing end once again.

The 49ers rallied but came up 2 yards short of potentially sending the game into overtime. The team's 31-24 loss to the Miami Dolphins set the San Francisco franchise record with a 10th consecutive loss.

“The mentally we had as a team was, ‘Let’s go get this win,’” 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick said. “I thought our guys did a great job fighting until the very end.

“At the beginning of the game I asked them to go four quarters with me and they did. Our defense did a great job at the end to give us the opportunity to get the ball back and go score. We have to be able to finish these with touchdowns to give us an opportunity to win the game.”

Kaepernick threw for 296 yards and three touchdowns. He rushed for a 113 yards. But he was stopped short of the goal line when he took off running after failing to spot anyone open in the end zone as time expired.

“It’s tough, because you work all week just like any other week,” 49ers center Daniel Kilgore said. “We had a good week of practice and first drive we marched down the field, score. A couple of drives later, a turnover. It never felt out like we were out of it. We just have to make the plays when we’re called on.

“That’s a good defensive front. I felt like we handled them pretty well, but the ball didn’t bounce our way, and we got to come back and get better the next week.”

The 49ers lost by at least 12 points in six of their first seven games along their record-setting streak. The 49ers lost to the Arizona Cardinals 23-20 on Nov. 13. Last week, they hung tough for a while in a 30-17 loss to the New England Patriots.

“This is the third week now where we were getting closer and closer to getting out of the hump,” 49ers tight end Vance McDonald said. “All you can ask for as an offense is a chance to win the game at the end. Again, it’s just frustrating the three weeks in a row where we’ve been right there, really close.”

In a rarity this season, the 49ers outgained Miami in total yards and first downs. The 49ers ran 15 more offensive plays and controlled the ball for only one minute less than the Dolphins.

“Honestly, I don’t think this one hurts no more than New England or the Dallas game, but they all hurt,” 49ers receiver Jeremy Kerley said. “To get that close and come up short, you just think back on all the things you could have done better.”

Two turnovers proved costly for the 49ers. Garrett Celek fumbled after reaching the Dolphins’ 15-yard line. And Torrey Smith had a Kaepernick pass deflect off his hands on the first play of the third quarter. The Dolphins turned those takeaways into 10 points.

“There are no moral victories,” Smith said. “But I think it doesn’t help when you know that you are capable of it. We’ve known that forever. We’ve just got to go out there and consistently do it and finish. That’s why we’ve lost so many games. We’ve been in every game, for the most part, and we haven’t been able to finish.”

Coach Chip Kelly and the 49ers flew to Orlando after Sunday’s game and will take part in practices this week at the University of Central Florida before traveling to Chicago. The 49ers return to action Sunday against the Bears.

Players up and down the roster remarked about how the team continues to approach every week with the same commitment toward getting back in the win column. Kelly said the 49ers should not be credited for merely not giving up.

“They’re professionals and I think they’re all competitors so I don’t know what they’d gain from packing it in,” Kelly said. “Is that going to make them feel better? They want to straighten this thing out so they’re going to go out and compete and we’ve got a bunch of competitors in there that want to go win.

“I don’t want anybody to pat them on the back and tell them that ‘Hey, you did a good job. You were close.’ They’re grown men, they want to win and they’ll continue to work that way. They’ve practiced great all year long. They’ve had great attitudes in terms of what they’ve got to do when we go out to the practice field and I don’t think that’s in anybody’s mindset. I think it is questions that are asked from the outside, but there’s never been a question about that from the inside.”

Nick Mullens earns more respect from Kyle Shanahan, remains 49ers' QB

Nick Mullens earns more respect from Kyle Shanahan, remains 49ers' QB

SANTA CLARA -- 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan came out of Monday’s game believing Nick Mullens took a step forward in his development, so he'll remain the team's starting quarterback.

Mullens' stat line wasn't nearly as impressive as in his Week 9 debut against the Raiders, but his performance in the 49ers’ 27-23 loss to the New York Giants went beyond the stat line.

“Nick Mullens is our starter until I say different,” Shanahan said Tuesday.

Mullens completed 27 of 39 passes for 250 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions for a 73.7 passer rating. His TD was an 11-yard pass to Matt Breida, who was the last option in Mullens’ progression.

“What I liked about Nick is that he never seemed rattled throughout the whole game, continued playing,” Shanahan said. “He was great after the game, and he was great just watching the film with him.”

Shanahan gave Mullens an earful Monday night because of what he believed at the time was an lost opportunity for a big play against the Giants. Shanahan ended up with even more respect for Mullens after taking a closer look at the play Tuesday.

“There was one that I thought live he should’ve gotten to a deeper guy from my view on the sidelines,” Shanahan said. “I got on him for it because I wanted a bigger pass. I thought he was there, and it was open.

“He sits there, listens and takes it. When I watched the film, if he would've gone for what I wanted, I think it would've been a sack. And it would've been second-and-15. So that stuff, I like.”

[RELATED: 49ers report card for offense, defense in loss]

Through two games, Mullens has yet to be sacked while attempting 61 passes. Jimmy Garoppolo was sacked 13 times in 89 pass attempts this season, and C.J. Beathard was dropped 18 times in 169 pass attempts.

“He’s got a feel for that in the pocket,” Shanahan said of Mullens. “I always want to be aggressive and go down the field and get bigger plays, but not at the expense of risking a sack. I think he’s done a good job with that.”

49ers snap count: Ahkello Witherspoon actually played well, analytics show


49ers snap count: Ahkello Witherspoon actually played well, analytics show

Ahkello Witherspoon was involved in a couple of notable plays in the 49ers’ 27-23 loss to the New York Giants on Monday night. But the cornerback was deemed to have an exceptionally good game in coverage, according to Pro Football Focus.

Witherspoon was targeted five times, surrendering only one catch for 11 yards, according to PFF. Moreover, Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham didn't catch any of the three passes thrown his way while Witherspoon was in coverage against him.

Witherspoon was called for a debatable 16-yard pass-interference penalty on a play in which Beckham didn't even look back for the ball before Eli Manning’s pass arrived. But Witherspoon didn't look back, either. The play was significant, as it came on the Giants' game-winning drive.

Afterward, Witherspoon was asked if he disagreed with the call.

"I did, but I also disagree with me not turning my head because I could’ve had an opportunity for an interception on that play,” he said.

Witherspoon was in a trail position on Beckham’s 20-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter. Witherspoon was supposed to have safety help over the top on the play. PFF didn't assign blame to Witherspoon, who let his frustration show after the play.

Here are other notable metrics out of Monday’s game from PFF:

-- Cornerback Richard Sherman was targeted four times and gave up just two catches for 10 yards. He stopped running back Saquon Barkley for a 3-yard loss after a pass completion.

-- The 49ers missed just two tackles all game.

-- Running back Matt Breida graded out as the 49ers’ top offensive player. He gained 101 rushing yards, 65 of which came after contact.

-- Left guard Laken Tomlinson did not allow a QB pressure. Right guard Mike Person allowed only one hurry in 43 pass-blocking snaps.

-- Quarterback Nick Mullens completed just 3 of 9 passes for 12 yards while under pressure. When under duress, he threw an interception and had a passer rating of 3.2.

-- Giants quarterback Eli Manning was under pressure on just seven of his 32 dropbacks.

-- Defensive end Arik Armstead was the 49ers’ top-graded defender. He had two pressures and two run stops while playing 31 snaps.

-- No 49ers player had more than two quarterback pressures. Armstead, Cassius Marsh and DeForest Buckner had two pressures apiece.

-- Linebacker Fred Warner had three run stops and two pass breakups. While in coverage, Warner allowed five receptions on eight targets for 37 yards.

Here are the total numbers of snaps of every 49ers player who saw action:


Total offensive snaps: 73
Quarterback -- Nick Mullens 73
Running back -- Kyle Juszczyk 46, Matt Breida 44, Alfred Morris 14, Matthew Dayes 1
Wide receiver -- Kendrick Bourne 69, Marquise Goodwin 61, Dante Pettis 41, Trent Taylor 7, Richie James 5
Tight end -- George Kittle 71, Garrett Celek 6
Offensive line -- Laken Tomlinson 73, Mike McGlinchey 73, Mike Person 73, Joe Staley 73, Weston Richburg 73


Total defensive snaps: 59
Defensive line -- DeForest Buckner 48, Arik Armstead 31, Solomon Thomas 30, Cassius Marsh 28, Earl Mitchell 22, Sheldon Day 22, Ronald Blair 21, Dekoda Watson 19, D.J. Jones 12
Linebacker -- Fred Warner 59, Malcolm Smith 59, Mark Nzeocha 26
Defensive back -- Antone Exum 59, Jimmie Ward 59, Ahkello Witherspoon 59, Richard Sherman 59, K’Waun Williams 31, D.J. Reed 5

Special teams

Total special teams plays: 30
Tarvarius Moore 25, Nzeocha 24, Elijah Lee 23, Watson 21, Marcell Harris 18, Greg Mabin 16, James 15, Bradley Pinion 13, Exum 13, Marsh 13, Dayes 12, Buckner 12, Ross Dwelley 11, Reed 11, Ward 10, Celek 9, Kyle Nelson 8, Armstead 8, Witherspoon 7, Robbie Gould 6, Jones 6, Garry Gilliam 5, Joshua Garnett 5, Staley 5, Tomlinson 5, McGlinchey 5, Thomas 5, Blair 5, Mitchell 4, Juszczyk 3, Warner 3, Smith 2, Pettis 1, Williams 1