These are the grades for the 49ers’ 12th loss in a row – a 23-17 overtime collapse against the New York Jets who quit last week and didn’t even want to be here.
QUARTERBACK: F-plus. Colin Kaepernick made plays early in the game, as usual, and posted a quarterback rating of 158.3 in the first quarter. Then, he completely fell apart when it counted, as usual, and posted a quarterback rating of 49.7 after the first quarter. Threw for 17 yards in the second half and overtime combined. And it wasn’t even snowing. He had no excuse. He’s just a terrible quarterback whose career probably will end in three weeks.
RUNNING BACKS: A-minus. Carlos Hyde was the best player on the field during the first half when he rushed seven times for 141 yards and caught a touchdown pass. He ran harder than I’ve ever seen him run – the Jets had absolutely no interest in touching him. But then, the first half ended. And in the second half, Hyde didn’t rush as hard as before, which is his pattern. The Jets mostly held him in check until overtime, when he broke free for a 20-yard gain. But four plays later on fourth-and-2, Hyde ran up the middle and went nowhere and the Jets won a few plays later.
WIDE RECEIVERS: C-minus. Jeremy Kerley caught five passes for 50 yards and would have caught more if Kaepernick hadn’t missed him three times. Kerley is a good player, as is Torrey Smith, who left the game in the third quarter after hitting his head on the hard grass and suffering a concussion.
TIGHT ENDS: D-minus. Vance McDonald left the game early due to a shoulder injury. His replacement, Blake Bell caught a long pass and dropped a long pass.
OFFENSIVE LINE: A. These guys pushed around the fourth-best run defense in the NFL and gave up just two sacks despite missing Joe Staley all game and Daniel Kilgore most of the game.
DEFENSIVE LINE: D-plus. DeForest Buckner recorded two sacks and generally played well against the pass. But, this group gave up 188 rushing yards to a team that lost its starting running back, Matt Forte, early in the game after he rushed just three times for eight yards.
LINEBACKERS: F. Got punked by Bilal Powell, who had 311 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown coming into the game, and 145 rushing yards and two touchdowns today. Powell broke about 1,000 tackles in the second half alone.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: C-minus. Jimmie Ward made a beautiful play to intercept Bryce Petty’s first pass and set up the 49ers’ first touchdown. But, this group gave up 8.7 yards per pass attempt after the first half to a quarterback making his first ever start on the road. And Antoine Bethea was particularly awful. He looked old and slow. He needs to retire.
SPECIAL TEAMS: F. Phil Dawson missed two field goals. He also should consider retirement.
COACHES: Ω. This was Chip Kelly’s worst performance of the season. He had an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost by six. His offense gained 279 net yards in the first half and just 47 net yards after that. All against a Jets team that was dead on arrival.
The Niners lost because their coaching stunk and so did their halftime adjustments. Period.
After the game, Kelly said he looks at the second-half problems on a game-by-game basis. Doesn’t look for an overarching theme. So I said to him, “Some people would say the pattern this season has been a lack of effective halftime adjustments. Would you say that is fair?”
“No, I wouldn’t say that’s fair,” he said.
I would say it’s fair. Would you say it’s fair?
Kelly is denial. And that’s why he loses the same way every week. And that’s why he probably never will coach another game in the NFL after this season.
Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at email@example.com.