49ers

Should 49ers have gone for tie late in overtime loss to Seahawks?

Should 49ers have gone for tie late in overtime loss to Seahawks?

SANTA CLARA -- 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan would have been met with widespread disapproval.

The home fans would have booed.

Heck, even the Seattle fans in attendance would have voiced their displeasure at sitting through 3 hours, 49 minutes of football at Levi's Stadium and not seeing anything decided.

Shanahan would have been widely mocked for not having confidence in his offense.

But the 49ers would be in a lot better shape today if they had taken the tie on Monday night, instead of giving Russell Wilson one more chance with plenty of time to rip out their hearts.

When the 49ers took possession at their own 20-yard line with 1:50 remaining in overtime, Shanahan should have had two objectives. One, win the game. And, two, make sure the Seahawks do not have enough time to win the game.

The 49ers had one timeout remaining. Seattle coach Pete Carroll had no way of stopping the clock after already using both of his timeouts in overtime.

Shanahan clearly designed a couple of pass plays on first and second downs that he thought should have been easy completions.

However, nothing came easy for the 49ers’ passing game on Monday night with their two best pass-catchers, George Kittle and Emmanuel Sanders, out with injuries, two rusty offensive tackles, some butter-fingered receivers and a quarterback who was a tick off the mark.

The 49ers could have run a draw play on first down -- just try to get some easy yards. And with Seattle’s defense spread out, there’s always a chance that Raheem Mostert can tear off a big gain with his speed.

Regardless of how many yards Mostert picked up on first down, Jimmy Garoppolo then could have thrown on second down. If third down were manageable, Shanahan could have run or passed. If it were third-and-long, then probably the best decision with the 49ers’ alarming lack of playmakers would have been to run the ball again ... and try to ignore the jeers.

Instead, the 49ers threw three passes -- each incomplete -- and gave the ball right back to Wilson.

Garoppolo’s first pass, a short underneath throw intended for Kendrick Bourne, was tipped at the line of scrimmage and nearly intercepted. Garoppolo led Dante Pettis too much on second down, and the pass glanced off Pettis’ right hand. On third down, Garoppolo did not lead Deebo Samuel far enough down the field, and Seattle cornerback Shaquill Griffin broke it up at the Seattle 45.

Those three plays ate up just 14 seconds. When Mitch Wishnowsky punted the ball back to Seattle, only 25 seconds had run off the clock and Seattle took over at their own 36.

Seven plays later, including an 18-yard scramble by Wilson, Seattle moved the ball 40 yards into 49ers territory, and kicker Jason Myers made a 42-yard field goal to pull the Seahawks within striking range in the division.

Shanahan’s explanation was that he felt he called two high-percentage pass plays on first and second downs that would have allowed the 49ers the flexibility to go for the win or run out the clock to leave Seattle little time to respond.

“The first down, you’re expecting to get a completion,” Shanahan said. “They got a tipped ball. The second one, we’ve got to be able to throw and catch there between Dante and Jimmy. And then you get stuck in third and 10 like that, so definitely didn’t want to run it right there on third-and-10. (We) wanted to go for the first down.

"Definitely wish we took more time of the clock, but was counting on us catching one of those balls.”

[RELATED: Grading 49ers' offense, defense in 27-24 loss to Seahawks]

Of course, nobody would have been satisfied with a tie.

But the fact is that the 49ers, who entered Monday’s game with a two-game lead in the loss column over the Seahawks in the NFC West, would still have that same advantage in the standings.

49ers Mailbag: How will Kyle Shanahan deploy running backs vs. Saints?

49ers Mailbag: How will Kyle Shanahan deploy running backs vs. Saints?

NEW ORLEANS – It’s a good problem for the 49ers to figure out who among their running backs they are going to feature.

Leading rusher Matt Breida is scheduled to return to action on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints after missing three games with an ankle sprain. Raheem Mostert is coming off a 146-yard day, the best game from a 49ers running back in three years. But what kind of role will he play on Sunday?

That question leads off this edition of the 49ers Mailbag:

Coach Kyle Shanahan and his staff put a lot of discussion into how they are going to use their backs. Shanahan talks to his entire offensive staff, as well as quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, about which plays are best fits for which players.

Then, Shanahan’s in-game decisions are also influenced by which running back is having the most success.

“None of them are bad at anything, so whatever we end up going with, all of them have a chance, whatever play it is,” Shanahan said on 49ers Game Plan, which airs Saturday at 7 p.m. on NBC Bay Area and 9 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area.

“We definitely try to decide which one we prefer during the week. We go into the game with a plan, but then we always stick with what’s hot.”

Tevin Coleman has been getting the starting assignments. It remains to be seen if that will continue, but Breida and Mostert should get their opportunities, too. 

I don’t know about using Daniel Brunskill for any trick plays, but it might not be a bad idea to mix him in for a series here and there to ease Joe Staley back into the action.

Staley has missed nine games this season, and Brunskill has shown to be a very effective player. It could be something along the lines of how the 49ers got Ahkello Witherspoon back into his starting role. At first, they had Witherspoon and Emmanuel Moseley sharing the playing time before Witherspoon was all the way back.

Richard Sherman will play despite hobbled last week with a knee injury. He appeared to be moving well during 49ers practices this week in Florida.

The only 49ers starter who will not play on Sunday is strong safety Jaquiski Tartt, who may miss multiple games with fractured ribs. Marcell Harris will start at strong safety. But everybody else is good to go, including Breida, Staley and Dee Ford.

My hunch is that if the 49ers do not place the franchise tag on Arik Armstead, he will end up signing a lucrative multi-year contract with another team as an unrestricted free agent. The 49ers' top priorities to sign to multi-year extensions are defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and tight end George Kittle.

[RELATED: Kittle on pace for best PFF season]

Neither Jalen Hurd nor Trent Taylor will play this season. Hurd will miss his entire rookie season due to a stress reaction in his back, while Taylor is out for the season from complications after undergoing surgery on a Jones fracture in his right foot.

The 49ers elevated defensive lineman Kentavius Street to practice this week. The 49ers might use their final injured reserve/designated to return spot on cornerback Jason Verrett, who has been out with a knee injury. He could return to practice as early as Wednesday.

The odds are very slim that Marquise Goodwin will be back on the team next season. He is scheduled to make $4.5 million in salary and bonuses in 2020, and that is not a price the 49ers are going to pay for what he gives them.

The 49ers are not giving up on Dante Pettis, though. They want him to put in the work during the offseason to have a big bounce-back season.

Pettis experienced the same kind of second season as Ahkello Witherspoon. Both players experienced success to ends their rookie seasons and thought they had it figured out.

[RELATED: How to watch 49ers-Saints]

Witherspoon struggled in Year 2, and realized what he had to do in order to perform at a high level. He came back focused for a strong third season.

The 49ers hope Pettis will make the same kinds of adjustments to his work ethic and mindset to become a reliable receiver in 2020.

49ers-Saints odds, predictions: Betting lines, picks for NFL Week 14 game

49ers-Saints odds, predictions: Betting lines, picks for NFL Week 14 game

For the third straight week, the 49ers will play in a potential playoff preview Sunday. 

The Niners (10-2) visit the NFC-leading New Orleans Saints (10-2) at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, as San Francisco concludes a brutal three-week stretch that included games against the Green Bay Packers and Baltimore Ravens. Facing Aaron Rodgers, Lamar Jackson and Saints quarterback Drew Brees in back-to-back-to-back weeks is no small feat, and it's clear 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is taking a matchup with Brees seriously. 

"Everyone knows he's one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and I still will say he's underrated," Shanahan told NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco earlier this week. "I mean, he's unbelievable. Any time he's on your team, you've got a chance to be a Super Bowl team every year, and I think that's why they've had a chance over the last 10 years."

The 40-year-old is by no means the first -- or last -- elite QB the 49ers have faced this season, but he might be the best. Among qualifying quarterbacks, Brees ranks eighth in passer rating (104.4), ninth in QBR (60.9) and first in completion percentage (73.8 percent).

[RELATED: 49ers' Kittle on pace for best tight end season in PFF era]

Can the 49ers stop Brees and pick up a much-needed win in the Big Easy? Here's how Las Vegas and experts around the country see the game playing out.

Line

Caesars: Saints -2
Consensus: Saints -2
Westgate: Saints -2
Wynn: Saints -2.5

Predictions

Nick Wagoner, ESPN: 49ers 27, Saints 20
Mike Triplett, ESPN: Saints 19, 49ers 17
Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: 49ers 27, Saints 23
Michael David Smith: Saints 21, 49ers 20
Gregg Rosenthal, NFL Media: 49ers 24, Saints 20