The 49ers dropped their fourth straight game with a 30-18 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night at Levi’s Stadium. With the loss, San Francisco now is 2-4 on the season.
As has been the case throughout this four-game losing streak, the 49ers were done in by an offense that would go cold for long stretches, mental errors, and a defense that gives up chunks of yardage through penalties.
Here are the answers to the five questions that I asked Saturday.
1. Can the 49ers’ offensive line spoil the homecoming of DeForest Buckner? No
Buckner would record five tackles on the night and would finish off the game with a sack of Jimmy Garoppolo on the final play.
2. Will Jimmy Garoppolo make a strong return? No
Garoppolo started strong, hitting his first two passes as the 49ers drove down the field for a touchdown on their opening drive of the game. From that point on it was a typical up and down Jimmy Garoppolo performance.
Garoppolo would manage to complete only three of his next 10 passes in the first half. The 49ers’ offense as a whole ground to a halt in the second quarter going three and out on all five possessions and gaining a total of 19 yards.
The third quarter wasn’t much better, the first possession would end with Garoppolo fumbling after getting hit in the pocket, followed up by another three and out for the 49er’s offense.
In the fourth quarter with the 49ers trailing 20-12, Garoppolo would finally get the passing game going again, hitting three straight throws on a three play, 70-yard drive culminating with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Deebo Samuel to pull to within two.
The veteran would finish the night 16-27, 181 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions. It will be interesting to see how the 49ers handle the quarterback situation moving forward.
3. Can the 49ers’ offense generate explosive plays? Yes
The San Francisco offense had averaged five explosive plays per game over the first five weeks of the season. On Sunday night against Indianapolis, they were able to generate seven despite the wet and windy conditions.
Running back Elijah Mitchell would open the game with three explosive plays in a row during the 49ers opening possession with runs of 20 and 14 yards before finishing it off with a 14-yard touchdown run.
Mitchell wasn’t done there. He would start the next 49ers’ possession off with another explosive run, gaining 12 yards on the first play.
The big plays weren’t limited to the running game. Jimmy Garoppolo would connect on three passes of more than 15 yards on the night.
The most impressive stretch of the game came in the fourth quarter with the 49ers trailing 20-12. Garoppolo opened the possession hitting Deebo Samuel for a gain of 29 yards and followed that up with a 27-yard connection to tight end Charlie Woerner. These two completions led to the 14-yard touchdown throw to Samuel mention earlier.
4. Can the 49ers defense contain Jonathan Taylor? No
Taylor would cough the ball up on the Colts’ first play of the game. After that early mistake, the second-year running back would dominate, gaining 107 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.
Through the first six games, this season Taylor was averaging just under three explosive runs per game. On Sunday night against the 49ers, Taylor was able to reach that average with runs of 33, 16, and 10 yards.
Taylor’s five-yard touchdown run with 3:45 left to play in the third quarter would give Indianapolis a 20-12 lead and prove to be the game-winner.
5. Will the 49ers defense get to Carson Wentz? No
For the second season in a row, Wentz would defeat the 49ers on Sunday night football using both his arm and his legs.
The performance from Wentz wasn’t clean, he lost a fumble deep in San Francisco territory to end one drive and had a number of passes bounce off the hands of 49ers defenders. In the end, he made enough plays to lead his Colts team to victory.
On the Colts second possession of the game, Wentz would find Michael Pittman deep down the left sideline for a 57-yard completion over Josh Norman. Three plays later Wentz would connect with tight end Mo Alie-Cox for an 11-yard touchdown, again beating Norman who jumped inside thinking the play was a run.
Wentz would strike again late in the first half. With only a minute left to play before halftime, Wentz would fake a handoff and beat the 49ers defense to the goal line for the go-ahead score and a lead the Colts would not relinquish.
It wasn’t just those two plays from Wentz that doomed the 49ers. Wentz showed no fear in going after the 49ers’
defense with deep throws down the field, and three times the San Francisco secondary helped him out by committing pass interference penalties. While Wentz would throw for only 150 yards in the game, Indianapolis would gain another 97 yards on three 49ers pass interference calls.
49ers 17 Colts 16
The 49ers came into this game having not defeated Indianapolis since 2001. They will need to wait four more years for their next shot.