Raise your hand if you predicted the 49ers to have eight wins after their first nine games this season. You in the back, put your hand down.
Entering coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch's third season at the helm in Santa Clara, the 49ers were expected to make a leap. But not this kind of leap.
It was reasonable to expect wild-card contention while competing in the NFC West this season, just months after owning the No. 2 pick in the draft. The 49ers, however, defied expectations to start the season and reeled off eight straight wins. After losing to a "real contender" in the Seahawks, 27-24 on Monday night, though, The Faithful has to take a deep breath.
Analyst Peter Schrager said it best Tuesday morning on NFL Network's "Good Morning Football."
"The offensive line couldn't protect anything, the Seahawks were just crashing in on Garoppolo, they couldn't catch a ball and yet, a minute left in this game, they were in position to win," Schrager said. "They went to overtime, they were in position to win. I wouldn't feel so bad if I'm a Niners fan this morning.
"That was as bad of an offensive performance they've had all season long, and yet they were still in striking distance to win."
"They were without their top two receiving options, they dropped 9 passes, they had a rookie kicker in his first @49ers game, and they were still a makeable FG attempt away from a W. I know it seems bleak, but the sun still rises in San Francisco this morning." -- @PSchrags pic.twitter.com/3Mo3kVZVNr— GMFB (@gmfb) November 12, 2019
The 49ers took an early 10-0 lead over Seattle and looked to be in driver's seat of what might have been the biggest game in the history of Levi's Stadium. And then, life came at them fast in the worst ways possible.
San Francisco already was dealing with the injury bug going into the game as they were without George Kittle -- perhaps the best tight end in the NFL -- veteran kicker Robbie Gould and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon. Once wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders exited early with a rib injury, the 49ers' offense sputtered.
The inconsistency of the 49ers' receivers was on full display Monday night. Pro Football Focus marked the 49ers down for five dropped passes but it felt more like seven to nine. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo's lone interception came right off the hands of receiver Kendrick Bourne. The INT was returned 44 yards and the Seahawks scored three plays later to take a 14-10 lead.
Garoppolo was without his top-two options the majority of the game and constantly was under duress.
Per @PFF stats, Jimmy Garoppolo was under pressure 22 times (four sacks, four hits, 14 hurries). Those assigned responsibility for the pressures: Mike McGlinchey 5; Garoppolo 4; Joe Staley and Mike Person, 3 apiece; Laken Tomlinson 2.— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoNBCS) November 12, 2019
Jimmy G also lost two fumbles and the Seahawks dropped at least two easy interceptions thrown by the 49ers QB. While the narrative turned to Garoppolo against Seattle QB Russell Wilson, San Francisco's signal-caller was shorthanded and the 49ers defense deserves credit for how they handled the MVP frontrunner.
Robert Saleh's 49ers defense sacked Wilson five times and broke up five passes. Wilson threw just his second interception this season and had his lowest PFF grade of the year. The 49ers faced a superstar quarterback who has dominated them for years -- to say the least -- and actually held him in check.
The #49ers defense vs Russell Wislon:— PFF SF 49ers (@PFF_49ers) November 12, 2019
-Five sacks (most)
- Broke up five passes (most)
- Intercepted another (t-most)
- Forced Wilson's lowest PFF grade of the season
The loss stings for #49ers fans but this defense is for real. https://t.co/B4Pb8cm4ht pic.twitter.com/JDO8SxRDRc
[RELATED: Should 49ers have gone for tie late in overtime?]
Along with Sanders, center Weston Richburg, as well as defensive linemen Ronald Blair and D.J. Jones exited early in the loss, and running back Matt Breida aggravated his sprained ankle. The extent of their injuries isn't yet known, though Breida is expected to get a second opinion and might miss time.
For the cards the 49ers were dealt, and having to lean on an undrafted rookie kicker who had a chance to win the game in overtime, San Francisco has plenty of reasons to be optimistic after its first loss. Now the focus turns to health and consistency with a tough remaining schedule.