Looking to extend momentum from their previous two wins, the San Francisco 49ers dropped their Sunday night matchup to NFC Best Seattle Seahawks in dispiriting fashion.
In what fans knew would be a defining game in the 49ers 2020 season, disjointed play and mounting injuries proved to be too much for the Niners to overcome. QB Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 11 of 16 for 84 yards and one interception before being removed from the game in the 4th quarter with an ankle injury.
The 49ers defense started the game steadfast, forcing Seattle to punt on their first drive. After San Francisco's five offensive plays, Punter Mitch Wishnowsky and 49ers special teams were able to pin the Seahawks on the 1 yard line before the defense forced another Seahawk punt. But the offense could not capitalize, and the 49ers second drive downfield ended in a red zone interception to Seattle CB DJ Reed.
“I was frustrated with the whole offense,” Head Coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters in his postgame press conference. “Starting with myself, this wasn't a very good day for us. I thought the defense came out and played pretty inspired in those first couple of drives and gave us a chance to get up on them and we missed those opportunities.”
From the interception, the Seahawks would take the ball 86 yards downfield, culminating in a 46-yard pass from MVP candidate QB Russell Wilson to WR DK Metcalf. This was just the beginning for the duo, as the two would connect 12 times on the day for 161 total yards and two touchdowns.
NBA champion Lebron James was watching the game and acknowledged some of the athletic similarities between him and Metcalf on the play:
Well, DK is officially Baby Bron for the rest of his life 👑 pic.twitter.com/ffWrdLjNQe— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) November 1, 2020
Russell Wilson would go on to torch the 49ers on 27 of 37 passes for 261 total yards and four touchdowns.
Despite registering just 131 yards in the first half, the Niners looked apt to continue contending for the W as they entered halftime down just 13-7.
The 49ers came out of the locker room to receive the ball after the break, but lost three yards on three plays before punting. Seattle would take the ball 63 yards on nine plays before scoring another touchdown.
On the resulting kickoff, WR Dante Pettis fumbled on the 49ers 21 yard line, leading to another Seahawks touchdown, pushing the score to 27-7 and effectively putting the game out of reach.
The 49ers amassed a total of three yards in the third quarter, as the offense struggled to get anything going.
“You have to play well to have a good game and I don't think we played very well today," Coach Shanahan said. "It started with me. I made a few too many mistakes.”
Seattle opened the 4th quarter with a field goal, and an uninspiring Garoppolo was pulled for backup QB Nick Mullens. Mullens, who completed 18 of 25 attempts for 238 yards, two TDs, and a passer rating of 128.4, was too late to the party.
Mullens was able to connect with George Kittle for a monster catch on his first drive that led to a 49ers touchdown, but Kittle was injured on the play and left the game limping.
With just under four minutes left in the game and the score at 30-20, the 49ers still had a chance to make a comeback, until Russell Wilson was able to scramble on a 2nd and 6 and fake slide short of the first down marker, but ultimately drawing a key penalty on DB Jimmy Ward to extend the drive and kill the game.
After a poor performance in his Week 4 start against the Philadelphia Eagles, Mullens impressed on the day, albeit against a struggling Seattle defense.
"Any time you can get out there and bounce back, from my last start, ya, it’s definitely gonna create confidence," Mullens told reporters after the game. "The biggest thing I’ve learned just going through it all, the NFL’s tough, but it’s all about what you do next, and that’s what I just tell myself pretty much every day. It’s all about what you do next, no matter whether it’s good or bad, it’s all about what you do next.”
Shanahan, who has been praised all year for his play calling, seemed unwilling to throw the ball downfield or challenge his quarterback until his hand was forced and Mullens was in, playing from behind and chasing the game in the 4th quarter.
NBC Sports Bay Area 49ers analyst Donte Whitner did not hold back in his criticisms of Garoppolo, as the offense continued to rely on screens and short passes to move the ball downfield.
“Right now, I don't think Garoppolo put fear in defenses in the National Football League," Whitner said Sunday on "49ers Postgame Live." "I think the papers are out on him. They understand that they can press these guys, he doesn't really want to push the ball down the field, it seems like he doesn't want to make mistakes. But you can't win like that in the National Football League.”
Reporters expecting to speak to Garoppolo postgame were disappointed as he did not make an appearance.
Garoppolo (ankle), Kittle (ankle), RB Tevin Coleman (knee), WR Dante Pettis (shoulder), and OLB Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles (hamstring) will be further evaluated Monday for their injuries.
The 49ers will be happy they get to play Thursday on a short week and will be quick to wipe this game from memory.
“We all just need to take a step forward, just go back to work, focus on the details, execute and make plays,” Nick Mullens said in his postgame. “I mean that’s really all it comes down to. The only way you play your best on Sunday is go and work through the week, obviously it’s a short week this week, but the work doesn’t change.”
FB Kyle Juszczyk echoed the sentiment, telling reporters, “I am so happy we are playing on Thursday. After a loss like this you just want to get the taste out of your mouth, you want to go play football again. So, so happy we can just turn around and get back on the field in just a few days.”
The 49ers will look to rebound Thursday night at home against the Green Bay Packers at 5:20 PM PST.
Top Photo: Abbie Parr / Getty Images