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New 49ers regime begins 0-5




The 49ers’ frustrating 2017 campaign continued with a second-straight overtime loss, leaving the 49ers to fly back to the Bay Area stewing after their fifth straight dispiriting defeat.

The 49ers overcame a two-touchdown, fourth-quarter deficit, despite an uneven performance by quarterback Brian Hoyer. However, the embattled starter played well when it mattered in the fourth quarter, leading two four-quarter drives. The last one, in the final moments, included a 5-yard touchdown pass to rookie tight end George Kittle to force the team’s second overtime in two games.

But in the end it was bad fortune and bad mistakes that doomed the 49ers to a winless start to the Shanahan-Lynch regime. The biggest was a 35-yard run by rookie Marlon Mack when the 49ers failed to contain the left flank of their defense.

It led to an Adam Vinatieri 51-yard game-winning field goal to win it, 26-23.

KNBR radio color analyst Tim Ryan said it best in characterizing the 49ers’ defeat perfectly in the third quarter.

“So many of these mistakes by this 49ers’ football team are mental,” Ryan observed during a disastrous third quarter. “Maybe they are all mental.”

The litany of errors in the third quarter alone included:
-A dropped pitch by running back Carlos Hyde.
-A sack when Hyde failed to pick up a Colts’ blitzer.
-Aaron Lynch jumping ff-sides on third-and-five
-Lynch hitting quarterback Jacoby Brisset late to get the Colts within field goal range.
-A sack of quarterback Brian Hoyer on a two-man pass rush.
-A dropped kickoff by Matt Brieda.
-Terrible run fits on a Colts scoring drive in the quarter.

It was enough for an exasperated Ryan to make a keystone cops reference. The seemingly endless stream of miscues continued a season-long trend. It also led to a 16-6 Colts lead.

And it prompted changes, including Brieda playing for Hyde at running back in a long drive that stretched between the third and fourth quarters and resulted in a 40-yard field goal by Robbie Gould to narrow the score to 16-9.

Yet the 49ers’ defense, which has played terrifically at times this season, allowed the Colts to conduct a 7-play, 75-yard drive to pump their lead to 23-9.

However, in keeping with another season-long theme, the 49ers kept it close with a long drive for their first road touchdown of the season. Embattled wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, fresh off a concussion last week, stretched out for a diving 51-yard catch to key the drive. The defense stiffened, which allowed the 49ers an opportunity to tie the game with 5:37 to play.
While the first half was hardly perfect, the 49ers began moving the ball offensively like never before this season. Brian Hoyer began white hot, completing his first seven throws, with four going to Garcon. In fact, Hoyer’s eighth throw, a 10-yard balloon into the end zone was very catchable, but rookie tight end George Kittle dropped it.

Hoyer ended the half without getting his team into the end zone, instead the 49ers settled for a pair of Robbie Gould field goals and a 6-6 tie with the Colts. However, Hoyer going 12 of 17 for 130 yards, had to have general manager John Lynch mopping his brow in relief as the talk of benching Hoyer was temporarily stayed.

The initial game plan was to throw against the Colts’ crippled secondary, where starters Vontae Davis and Rashaan Melvin were both hindered with leg injuries. The 49ers only gained 22 yards on the ground through the half.

The team also lost cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon in the second quarter, who was seeing his first action of the season. Witherspoon was kneed in the back of the head by defensive end Arik Armstead.