Coming out of the Bye week on a three-game skid, the San Francisco 49ers hosted the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday Night Football. It was supposed to be a game that could turn around their otherwise disappointing season thus far. Instead, on a very rainy night in the Bay Area, the 49ers lost, 30-18, behind a stagnant offense, a sloppy defense and a general lack of execution.
"You lose four games in a row. I'm the head coach of this team. I expect it and I deserve it." Kyle Shanahan on criticism #49ers
— Tracy Sandler (@49ersfangirl) October 25, 2021
“It’s pretty down in there right now,” said head coach Kyle Shanahan. “Losing four games in a row, it’s been a month. That’s tough. It was tough, really the last two weeks, losing three in a row. We just added another to it. Doesn’t make it any easier. I told the guys they got to be tough-minded, they got to stick together. We got guys with high character in there. I think we’ve got good enough football players. We have to handle whatever we’re going to get and come back and play better next week versus Chicago.”
For much of the game, the best play Carson Wentz and the Colts’ offense had was to throw deep on third down and draw a defensive pass interference penalty from the 49ers’ defensive backs. San Francisco led the league in DPIs with nine coming into the game, and they did not slow down adding four Sunday night.
“It’s been a struggle all year,” Shanahan said. “Today was the worst. It’s always harder getting your footing out there and stuff, but it is for them also. Until the end, until they started making some of those, we gave them way too many explosive freebies, especially the two touchdown drives in the first half.”
Everyone got in on the action with CB Josh Norman committing the first, nickel corner K’Waun Williams the second, CB Emmanuel Moseley the third and safety Jaquiski Tartt the third. Three of those penalties led to touchdown drives.
“Rookie, veteran, whoever, especially when you have them on some third-and-longs, we can’t give them the freebies,” Shanahan said. “We got to make them earn it, and we didn’t always do that.”
Norman has been called for four DPI penalties this season alone.
“…[W]e just have to be better at executing our assignments that’s being asked of us,” Norman said. “I know I have to do a better job at certain plays that I noticed coming. We have to be there for them. I think in the secondary as a whole…we just have to make plays. That’s what it comes down to. But the beauty of it, we have the guys in the room to do it and if not, we wouldn’t be here. So that’s a good thing knowing that that’s the silver lining you take from it because looking outside, nobody’s coming to help us. It’s all about us and what we do. Drive the bus from the back. So we just have to be better and we will. We have the coaching staff to do it, definitely got players. So I’m just waiting on that break.”
Those defensive penalties-turned-Colts touchdowns may have been the difference in the game, but the 49ers’ offense shares the blame as well. It was a tough night for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who had three turnovers (two interceptions, one fumble).
“I don’t have one specific thing,” Garoppolo said on why there are so many miscues. “I think whatever play is called, we just have to go out there and execute it. It’s just about putting in more time, more effort, staying longer, putting in more hours, things like that. It’s the little things at this point. The NFL is a crazy thing. One week you’re on top, one week you’re at the bottom of it. Every team has their ups and downs. We’re at the lower end of the point right now. But we can fight back.”
— Tracy Sandler (@49ersfangirl) October 25, 2021
Garoppolo finished the night 16-of-27 for 181 yards and a touchdown. The TD came in the fourth, but so did the two interceptions.
Asked if Garoppolo would start next week against the Chicago Bears, Shanahan said, “I would guess so. I’m going to watch this tape and see if guys are healthy first of all. I don’t even know where our guys are at…”
On the plus side, running back Elijah Mitchell had 18 carries for 107 yards and a touchdown, but 80 of those yards came in the first quarter. Wide receiver Deebo Samuel had seven receptions for 100 yards and a touchdown.
- Tartt left the game with a knee injury and did not return.
- Moseley left the game late in the fourth quarter with a back injury.
- Dee Ford was evaluated for a head injury.
As the 49ers look to next week against the Chicago Bears, the team seems to be in disarray and there are many more questions than answers.
“I got a whole team to worry about,” Shanahan said. “Not just thinking about what the quarterback situation is right now. I’m going to evaluate everything, see where our team’s at, see what gives us the best chance to beat Chicago, and see what our options are. That’s what you go into each week, finding out your options…I got a lot of things to figure out.”
Something has to change or this 2-4 team is in for a very, very long season.