SANTA CLARA – The rain kept falling on Sunday night, symbolically taking the 49ers to a fourth straight loss in their season in an embarrassing freefall.
The 49ers emerged from their bye week to lose 30-18 to the Indianapolis Colts amid a torrent of rain, wind, defensive penalties and offensive blasts.
It was the 49ers’ worst season since Levi’s Stadium opened in 2014, and their stands were half-filled with poncho-wearing fans, cheering loudly from the crowd during the misery of the second half.
The frightening play by their defensive backs was mostly reflected in pass-interference penalties, but, for good measure, Colts quarterback Carson Wentz ended him with a 28-yard touchdown pass over Dre Kirkpatrick with 2:49 remaining.
Jimmy Garoppolo, who put on two gloves and scored three turnovers, couldn’t help the 49ers (2-4) to keep pace with the Colts (3-4).
“The NFL is a crazy thing. One week, you’re at the top. One week, you’re at the bottom of it,” Garopolo said. “Every team has its ups and downs. We’re at the bottom right now. But we can fight back.”
Will Garoppolo top next Sunday’s Halloween trip to Chicago, where his reign as a 49ers starter began in December 2017?
“I would guess so,” replied coach Kyle Shanahan. “… I have a whole team to worry about. Not just thinking about the quarterback position right now.
“We’ll evaluate everything, see who gives us the best chance to beat Chicago and see what our options are. We had two quarterbacks who were hurting this week. Jimmy was able to come back and play. We’ll see if Tray can do it next week. Still not sure. But there’s a lot to clean up.”
Garoppolo’s return to the lineup came without being considered rookie, with Trey Lance (knee sprain) lurking on his shoulder, and even though a Garoppolo touchdown pass began a comeback attempt in the fourth quarter, it ended with two interceptions shortly thereafter. .
Here are the top takeaways from this game:
fourth quarter failures
Garoppolo initially channeled his fourth-quarter output from the 49ers’ last prime-time game, when he produced a last-minute touchdown drive in the final loss to the Green Bay Packers in the September 19 home opener.
This time, Garoppolo delivered a touchdown, then with two interceptions. He was 16-in-27 for 181 yards.
He opened the fourth quarter with three big-strike completions: 29 yards to Debo Samuel, 27 yards to Charlie Warner, and a 14-yard touchdown to Samuel. An ensuing 2-point conversion pass was batted down, so the 49ers are still behind, 20–18 with 13:07 remaining.
The next time the 49ers got the ball back, a Garoppolo pass gave it back, as it bounced off Samuel’s hands (as happened repeatedly this night) for an interception.
With 1:53 remaining, Garoppolo was left alone at midfield as he watched a 30-yard pass stagger with his hand and saw John Jennings to four Colts defenders, with an interception by Khary Willis. .
more pi penalty
No defense in the NFL has served a greater pass-interference penalty than the 49ers. On Sunday he had to pay the price of the game.
The Colts’ three touchdown drives along with a near-interference penalty put them 20-12 in the third quarter. Making those gaffes were experienced defensive backs; The 49ers did not suit rookie cornerbacks DiModor Lenore and Embry Thomas.
“Rookie, veteran, whoever, especially third and long term, you can’t give free gifts,” Shanahan said. “You have to earn them it. We didn’t always do that.”
Josh Norman began the PI spree to spring up the Colts’ offense for his first touchdown drive. It was Norman’s fourth time taking that penalty and 10th overall on defense this season, and it came when Michael Pittman Jr. caught him in the 49-yard 19-yard line for a 57-yard reception. third and left behind on 11. Indianapolis denied the penalty and took the catch.
The Colts later completed three snaps into the touchdown, when Wentz’s play-action mockery fooled the 49ers defense, including Norman, who left his side of the field and hit Mo Ali-Cox for an 11-yard touchdown reception. left free. and-2.
Wentz and the Colts followed a similar strategy on their next possession, with Ke’Van Williams passing interference for a 40-yard penalty on a third-down pass. The campaign came to an abrupt end when Wentz shot-put the ball into the hands of Aziz Al-Shair at the 6-yard line.
PI Call No. 3: Emmanuel Moseley was flagged off in the end field, and the Colts had 1 minute left in the half in a go-forward touchdown run by Carson Wentz (1 yard).
PI Call Number 4: Jaquiski Tartt arrived late to defend an open pitman near the goal line. This put the Colts on the 5-yard line, and Jonathan Taylor ran it from there for a 20-12 lead. (Moseley was again called for pass interference on the preceding snap but the Colts had their own PI penalty for replaying the offset and down.)
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been called out for the second most pass-interference penalties (10), and the Pittsburgh Steelers have not been called for all season.
The 49ers were called up for the nine that entered the game.
The 49ers’ third-down struggle this season – on the offensive – showed in this first half in 0-for-7 fashion. He finished 1-of-11. In their last two losses, they finished third at 2-of-14 and 3-of-11.
When Debo Samuel lacked the sticks just before halftime, no third-down play backfired more than this. Samuel’s second loss of the season put the Colts in the red zone, with him third and -12 at -12 after a 10-yard reception and the ball was snatched by Darius Lenard.
Even after Garoppolo broke Sunday’s third-down drought with Mohamed Sanu (on third and -10) completing a 16-yard, the next third-down snap proved disastrous, with Garopolo faltering on Al-Quadin Muhammad Bori .
Michelle’s quick start
Eliza Mitchell got off to a hot start, and she ended her opening touchdown drive with runs for 20, 14, and 14 yards. That barrage of explosive runs took Kyle Juszczyk (20-yards to the Colts’ 28, Ross Dweley and Trent Sherfield), and then, inevitably, everyone but especially Mike McGlinchy opened the lanes behind the block on the scoring run. Saw it happen
Mitchell covered a total of 57 yards on that opening drive, and he eventually eclipsed the 100-yard mark in the third quarter. He missed two games with a shoulder injury before returning to Arizona the previous game.
Spelling out on third down was Mitchell Jamichel Hasty, who had returned from injured reserve but struggled for most of the night.
take it fast
The Colts’ first snap resulted in Fred Warner’s first takeaway of the season, courtesy of Josh Norman punching the ball by running back Jonathan Taylor’s catch. It was the 49ers’ defense’s third takeaway this season, and it came on the Colts’ 28-yard line.
It was Taylor’s first loss this season, only as the 2020 rookie.
The 49ers converted that takeaway into points, though there was only a 34-yard field goal from Joy Sly, who had missed the first point-after kick wide right. It gave the 49ers a 9-0 lead, the same as the final score of their rain-laden victory in Washington in 2019.
The 49ers’ second takeaway came as the second quarter got underway: Nick Bossa and then Kentavius Street nearly sacked Wentz, before a shovel pass hit Aziz Al-Shayer in the chest, who was struck by a fumble on the 6-yard line. The recovery was ruled.
a clever man
Sly’s home debut as an injury replacement for Robbie Gould started poorly, with a kick after a missed point. Then Sly rebounded with a 34-yard field goal, followed by a huge act: He completed a 56-yard field goal attempt in the rain with a tailwind. Those kicks extended the 49ers’ lead to 12-7. Gold is two games in the space of at least three games on injured reserve, which stemmed from a groin strain in the warmup in the 49ers’ previous home game, losing to Seattle on October 3.
slippery when wet
Neither sequence showed how slippery things were in the middle of the second quarter. After Nyheim Hines dropped a wide-open pass in third, the Colts’ ensuing punt was muffed (and kicked) by 49ers returns specialist Brandon Ayuk, resulting in a 49ers touchback.
Due to back-to-back imperfections in the rain, the 49ers went three-and-out in their ensuing possession. This put the 49ers at 0-for-5 on third-down conversions.
Wentz and Garoppolo fail the opening snaps of their next drive; Each quarterback retrieves the ball.
Left tackle Trent Williams’ absence just clearly wasn’t noticeable. He was not fit due to ankle and elbow injuries, the former of which he aggravated in Monday’s post-buy bonus practice. That meant the first NFL debut for rookie Jaylon Moore, a fifth-round pick from Western Michigan (155 total).