49ers continue making same mistakes on way to fourth straight loss

Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (28) runs through the line of scrimmage during an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Saturday, October. 24, 2021, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Scot Tucker)

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’

Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (28) runs through the line of scrimmage during an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Saturday, October. 24, 2021, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Scot Tucker)
Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (28) runs through the line of scrimmage during an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Saturday, October. 24, 2021, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Scot Tucker)
Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (28) runs through the line of scrimmage during an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Saturday, October. 24, 2021, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Scot Tucker)

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. 

This article has 58 Comments

  1. Honestly …. this was inevitable thanks to Kyle’s epic mismanagement of the QB position, going all the way back to 2017. What really kills me is that he knew he needed a change at QB, and then he had a golden opportunity to make a clean break from Garoppolo after the 2021 draft, but he just wasn’t man enough to do it!

  2. Very unfortunate loss on many levels.
    Shanahan is proving that he’s not head coach material. Once again, Shanahan seems to busy trying to show his offensive genius only to fail.

    Why move away from the run game after it proved very effective in the opening series?

    Why make a concerted effort to basically only involve Deebo in the passing game?

    Shanahan should be put on the hot seat for not utilizing Aiyuk, who proved himself in his rookie season. This makes no sense and also makes the passing game predictable by featuring Deebo.

    Back to Shanahan. He is getting out-coached by almost every head coach that he has gone against him thus far.
    And what is worse, if Lance isn’t ready by next season the 49ers could fall into a deep hole because they gave up important draft capital over the next few years.
    This is not good.

    1. Kyle has cut off his nose to spite his face, when it comes to Aiyuk. All over a perceived disrespectful gesture from Aiyuk in one of the last days of training camp. Rolling his eyes, from what I heard.

  3. Those most disheartening part about this game/season is that I am not sure what good can be taken away from it.
    1. The young prospects that are supposed to be this teams future do not appear to be developing and if anything might be argued to be regressing.
    2. The team does not appear to be developing cohesion or discipline that can be pointed to when looking forward.
    3. Their are no early draft picks coming in that could help revamp this roster.
    4. While I first thought that Jimmy’s cap number could really help this team go after free agents when his salary comes off the books. Their are some major contracts coming up that will almost immediately eat up that space in Bosa and Deebo.

    Long story short, if they don’t develop any of their young talent (especially Trey), then this season was a lost year that will hold the team back going forward. Here’s hoping they at least manage to do that, so we have a future with some hope in it.

  4. One bright spot-Jaylon Moore. Didn’t hear his name mentioned which is a good thing for a left tackle. Have to conclude that he filled in admirably for Trent and that there should be optimism about his future with the Niners.

  5. That last heave (or lack thereof) was an interesting “business decision” by Garoppolo.

    It felt a bit like he didn’t want to throw it because the risk for a turnover was high and he’d just rather not pad his numbers in the wrong stat column.

    Would it make any difference in the game? Of course not. But we might start seeing the invisible cracks in Shanny’s trust with his players as the Jimmy vs. Lance debate comes to a head- likely soon.

  6. In a perfect world, the 49ers get rid of Garoppolo and find a way to get Russell Wilson. Sit Trey Lance down, for a few years. Wilson still has a lot left in the tank. He needs an O-line. Our lineman are good enough to protect him and we have the weapons to make him dangerous in our offense. Trey Lance, when he plays, seems to second guess himself. Especially when an opportunity to run presents itself. He always hesitates. He also has a tendency to throw high which reminds me of Kaepernick. Instead of rushing to put him in, let him sit and learn from Russ who has a similar skill set. Probably far fetched but it’s worth it. We have a team that can win. We just need a QB that can stay healthy.

  7. Very bad

    1. We need to reassess everything : players, coaches, front office/GM, training/strength staff and Denise needs to reevaluate if her son should be majority owner (answer is no).
    2. Why did Kyle give up on Mitchell after the first quarter? 70 rush yards in first and 30 more rest of the game .
    2. Our best Offensive play is throw a prayer to double covered Deebo and hope he can make an acrobatic catch.
    3. We gave up 80 yards in PI penalties.
    4. Bosa , Waner, Al Shaair played well.
    5. Pettis has more receptions than Aiyuk this season.
    6. When are we going to stop drafting Pac 12 WR and start drafting SEC.
    7. Our draft process under Lynch and Shanahan has been abysmal.
    8. Our Free Agent evaluation under Lynch shanahan has bee abysmal.
    9. On the bright side, we have Texans and Jags on the schedule so perhaps 2 more wins.
    10. On the non-bright side, we will have a top 10 pick this year, but traded it away for a guy who isn’t playing or being developed to play.

    1. I think the cardinal sin committed by Jed was hiring and pairing a rookie GM with a rookie Head Coach. No competent CEO would make that mistake, ever.

  8. 49ers 2021 NFL Draft
    Round 1: Trey Lance
    Round 2: Aaron Banks
    Round 3: Trey Sermon
    Round 3: Ambry Thomas

    49ers 2020 NFL Draft
    Round 1: Javon Kinlaw
    Round 1: Brandon Aiyuk
    No picks in the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th Round

    Total number of snap counts for the 6 top players drafted the past 2 seasons: 43. All 43 snaps were from Brandon Aiyuk. Total production for the 6 top playes drafted the past 2 season: 1 rush for 3 yards. 1 reception for 6 yards.

    Can’t win in the NFL when you draft so poorly.

    1. Yet somehow they managed to draft enough good players to make it to the Super Bowl. It’s waaay to early To pass judgement on draft picks from 2020 and 2021.

      1. I’m not passing judgement on players. I’m saying there was little to no on-field production from any of the top 6 players drafted over the past 2 drafts in the Colts game. That’s an undeniable fact. Kinlaw was red-flagged by multiple teams due to knee issues prior to being drafted so his absence shouldn’t surprise anyone. Aiyuk seems like he has #1 WR talent so not sure why that isn’t working out right now. With the conditions and the calls, and all the injuries in the Colts secondary I can’t figure out why Shanahan didn’t call multiple Go routes for Aiyuk.
        He’s great at the point of attack. Very little production from your top picks over the past 2 years is not a good look for the GM and Scouting Dept.

        1. Shanahan had a deep shot for Aiyuk dialed up. Dwelley didn’t do a good enough job of blocking and was not only called for a hold but let his guy hit Garoppolo in the arm.

          1. Yeah, I forgot about that. Still, one time. Only one time. Only other deep shot I can recall is he interception at the end of the game.

            1. Ya IMO Aiyuk has the ability for a full route tree much like Devante Adams. The Shanahan system is slants, sticks, and whip routes.

              I would love a Aiyuk for Viska trade. Makes sense for both teams.

    2. Total number of snap counts for the 6 top players drafted the past 2 seasons: 43.

      That’s got to be a record! Someone should get fired for that!!!

  9. I think the 6th question should have been, will the corners hold up and the answer is NO. I think this was the number one cause of why we lost the game. Loosing Verret was a huge loss and we’ve replaced him with guys off the street. We might as well start the 2 guys we drafted so they can get experience. I doubt they would play worse.

      1. 150 yards passing

        97 yards in pass interference penalties.

        That number would be flipped, except Norman still gave up the long completion after committing a PI which was declined.

      2. That was the game right there

        PI directly contributed to two colts TDs.

        57 yarder, drive ended up a TD but no PI (declined due to catch as Hammer writes)
        40 yard PI, Colts drive ended with Wentz fumble int
        19 yard PI, gave Colts ball on SF 1 yard line, drive results in TD
        38 yard PI, gave Colts ball on SF 5 yard line, drive results in TD

    1. This team is screwed because their defensive coordinator wants to play man.They don’t have the bodies to play man at this point.

      I am not sure why Lenoir has trailed off?

    2. At least we didn’t re-sign Sherman, only to be grousing that this team can’t do anything right when he strained his butt.

  10. Josh Norman is a liability at this stage in his career.
    He got toasted two weeks ago before the bye and hurt the team last night. Shanahan needs to grow a pair and shut Norman down.

    At this point, I would go with Demo Lenior the rest of the season. He can’t be worse than Norman and on the positive side, he can gain the experience needed for the future.

  11. Sure is going to hurt watching the Dolphins draft Evan Neal or Derek Stingley with the 49ers first round pick in the draft next year.

  12. Anyone who isn’t holding Kyle Shanahan primarily responsible for where this team is right now, is in denial! Make no mistake, this is Kyle’s team. Every facet of this football team has Kyle Shanahan’s fingerprints all over it. The buck starts and stops with him!

    1. 49,
      I’ve given Shanahan some grace since last seasons perfect storm of injuries and the covid. But, now his play calling and time management are becoming very suspect at best.

      Shanahan seems to just be going through the motions and the team seems to be playing not to lose rather than playing in attack mode.
      The 49ers faithful are sensing a regression with the team, but the danger starts when the locker room begins to sense this. I’m not saying that this is taking place in the locker room, but at some point they have to realize that their team is to good to lose 4 games straight.

      1. And yet even with all this regression and the HC going through the motions you think you see, they lost to the Packers and Cardinals by a combined 9 points. Those are supposedly two of the best teams in the conference and the 9ers were in contention to beat both. It’s tough to be positive after a loss but things are not as dire as you make them out to be at least not yet. If they continue to get called for ten times as many yards in penalties as their opponent and keep turning the ball over, then sure Shanahan should be held to account, but the team has been in every game and in position to win most of them. The slow starts/lack of finish and the move away from the running game when it’s working are big issues I agree but it’s not bad enough to lose complete confidence in this Coaching staff or roster in my opinion.

        1. FL49,
          I hear you. But the Cards were virtually handing the game to the 49ers and we still couldn’t get it done.
          In last night’s game the 49ers ran the ball down the Colts throat on the first drive, then threw three straight passes for nada on their second series. This is where I say that Shanahan out-thinks himself. If something is working successfully why change it?
          This falls directly on the head coach.

          I’m not completely chucking the season, there’s plenty of football left. But if there is no change in players and play-calling things will get grim pretty quickly.

      2. I 100% agree, AES.

        People can make all of the excuses they want, but it doesn’t change the fact that the 49ers are 31-39 under Kyle Shanahan, and are in the midst of their 4th losing season in 5 years!

        1. I’ve already written about 10,000 words on this blog pointing to all of the reasons why the 49ers are in the current shape that they are in, and I guess when I get some free time I’ll go over it all again.

        2. the fact that the 49ers are 31-39 under Kyle Shanahan

          And 24-11 when Garoppolo plays. Using your yardstick, why the heck are they moving on from a proven winner?

          1. I’m not defending 49Unreasonable, but I believe JG has five wins and 6 losses in his last eleven starts. The trend is definitely down, but at the same time I don’t think it is all his fault.

    2. Yes I agree. Shanahan has earned the right to be evaluated at the seasons conclusion. They have not even played half their games yet.

  13. I didn’t see the game due to power outages. Finally saw the highlights today and I didn’t see Jimmy loose the game.
    I saw two big defensive fouls giving the colts a goal line opportunity.
    I saw Deebo loose a ball that turned into a TD.
    That’s 21 points.
    What did I miss?
    Jimmy desperately trying to make something happen and turning the ball over.

    1. The QB generally gets too much credit when they win and too much blame when they lose. However, in Jimmy’s case, he gets no credit when they win and most of the blame when they lose :)

  14. @Jack:

    I keep reading/hearing about all the talent on the 49ers. If you are so inclined, I think it would be interesting to evaluate the talent on the 49ers versus the talent on the three other teams in our division. On the offensive side of the ball it is likely that the 49ers are the worst in our division (Jimmy G is clearly #4, the WR group is #4, etc.). Including the coaching staffs might be interesting as well.

    It seems to me that this team isn’t nearly as “talented” as touted by analysts, fans without a grasp on reality, etc.

    1. Analysts think we have a good roster when healthy. Yesterday we were missing 6 starters which certainly hurts. The last 4 losses have been to very good teams by fairly small margins. It seems to me there is more parity than ever. Look at KC who was in the Super Bowl last year and now have a loosing record. Other teams are on the rise like Cincinnati. I still have hope for a successful season but we have to fix the corners.

    2. Cubus,

      I did this back in early July before taking over the blog here. Went through every position group and the 49ers were second in the NFC West. If I were to do it again right now, I think the 49ers would probably slide to third behind LA and Arizona.

    3. Shanahan/Lynch have not drafted well
      Very little player development
      Shanahan is also has been putting way too many players in his dog house and for reasons not clear. That’s cost the 49ers big

      Then extremely poor decision to give up 3 first round picks for a QB who is going to take 3-4 years to develop

      Some changes are needed – sooner rather than later

  15. I hate to say it but this season is over. Lets start building for next year.
    #1 Start Lance
    #2 Start Banks at RG
    #3 Start Thomas and Lenior at CB
    #4 Start J. Moore at RT
    #5 Start throwing the ball to Aiyuk
    #6 Start splitting time between Sermon and Mitchell
    #7 Sit Kinlaw until he is healthy. If he can’t get healthy cut/trade him
    #8 Move Woerner to TE #2 Dwelley blocks like Kwame Harris. Cut/trade him
    #9 Keep KS but make him hire an OC so he can spend more time with his HC duties
    #10 Fire JL this years draft won’t have a huge effect but FA signings could be the difference between 3 losing seasons in a row and a comeback next year.
    There is my 10 step plan to rebuild the 9ers. imho

    1. Firing JL and replacing him with a seasoned executive or GM from another team should definitely light a fire under KS. In addition, I would look to remove some power from KS especially if that power was “gifted” to him because 5 years ago the 49ers really wanted him. IMO, Jed must communicate his displeasure and the fan’s displeasure with more than just words.

      1. I can’t believe fans are so down on the Niners. No one wants to loose but wild claims of firing the coach and or the GM just 2 years after playing in the Super Bowl is outrageous. And who would replace them? There are plenty of coaches and GMs with worse records out there. Oh, let’s just bend over and pull an answer out of our backside. And why would KS need a fire light under him? Do you think he’s being lazy and working part time? Really ridiculous. I’m not worried about this as what fans think rarely have any impact and they owe him a ton of money so their not going anywhere.

        1. “And who would replace them?”

          That’s the biggest issue with firing Shanahan. Even if he isn’t a great coach, he’s better than some of the guys the 49ers have hired in the recent past. Shanahan was at least good enough to take a really bad roster and turn it into a Super Bowl roster in three years.

        2. I clearly said only replace JL. Why would he need a fire? For the same reason many need that – to get them to perform better and additionally for Kyle to get him to understand that the constant excuses offered after every game just won’t continue to cut it. But it’s clear to me that you don’t mind mediocrity and are happy with the status quo. I have higher expectations from an offensive genius.

    2. I totally disagree with this. It’s not time to throw out the baby and the bath water. Obviously, it’s time to lower expectations but the 49ers can still make the playoffs. They can still even do some damage in the playoffs. Definitely not a Super Bowl caliber team and probably not a NFCCG team but they can still win games. The goal right now should be to give the Miami Dolphins the worst possible first round draft pick so the cost of the Trey Lance deal isn’t so astronomically high. No way in the world should the 49ers sacrifice wins for rookie playing time.

      1. I don’t see this team winning anymore than 4 more games this year. 6-11 or say 4-13 whats the difference? Lets see if some of these high draft picks can play. If they find out that they can’t it allows the team to cut/trade them and start the rebuild. imho

        1. It’s very doubtful that the coach and players will give up. They will continue to try and win games and I believe they still have a chance at the playoffs.

    3. I agree with most of that, but Dwelley isn’t really a blocker. He is a receiver, maybe a better one than Kittle. He has never dropped a ball in the NFL (yes I know he isn’t as good at YAC, but he isn’t bad with the ball in his hands). Dwelley is another player that is grossly under utilized at what he does. It shouldn’t have been Dwelley getting beat blocking last night, the should have been Woerner in that position. Also it shouldn’t have been Woerner (a terrible receiver) getting multiple passes thrown his way, it should have been Dwelley. This is just anther poor utilization of talent by Shanahan.

  16. The more problems the 49ers have, the larger the number of owners that show up here.

    What we need is more Super Bowls. How about sixteen, then everyone could be in the Super Bowl every year.

    There are probably a lot of new “owners” showing up in KC and Seattle this year.


    1. Most of us here are more qualified to run a team than Jed York, or at least as qualified. He did nothing to get the team after all except an accident of birth.

      1. Most of us here are more qualified to run a team than Jed York, or at least as qualified.

        Excellent concept for a reality TV show! Come on NFL, who cares about Hard Knocks. Give the reigns to someone like Millenium or Reasons and let the laughs ensue.

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