49ers fall to 4-6 on the year after 27-13 loss to the Saints in New Orleans

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) watches the action in the second half against the San Francisco 49ers at the Superdome in New Orleans on Sun Nov 15, 2020 (AP News photo)

By Joe Hawkes
Staff Writer

NEW ORLEANS, LA — Already dealing with a depleted roster, the 49ers needed to play near perfect against the Saints if they expected to leave the Crescent City with a win. San Francisco had their share of chances, but couldn’t overcome four turnovers as the Saints take down the 49ers with a 27-13 victory in front of approximately 6,000 fans inside the Mercedes Superdome on Sunday afternoon.

New Orleans (7-2) have now won six-straight games and send the 49ers to their third-straight loss this season. Its the first three-game losing streak for San Francisco since 2018.

The injury-laden 49ers (4-6) head into a much-needed bye week where they will try to regroup for the final six games of their season. San Francisco has little wiggle room if it expects to make the playoffs after playing the Super Bowl a season ago.

San Francisco’s next game will be at the Los Angeles Rams on Nov. 29 in what will be a must-win game for the 49ers. They’ve already taken the first matchup against the Rams, 26-14, back on Oct. 26 at Levi’s Stadium.

Nick Mullens, who was making his second-straight start and fourth of the year in place of regular starter Jimmy Garoppolo, started off the 49ers’ first possession sizzling, completing 6 of 7 passes for 47 yards and converting a couple of third downs on a 13-play, 75-yard touchdown drive.

Mullens connected with rookie wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk on a 4-yard touchdown pass to cap off a drive that lasted 7 minutes, 17 seconds giving San Francisco an early 7-0 lead.

Aiyuk finished with seven catches for 75 yards and one touchdown while being targeted a team-high 14 times.

Mullens completed 24 of 38 passes for 247 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. He was briefly removed from the game in favor of C.J. Beathard in the fourth quartere on a third-and-21 play because of Beathard’s stronger arm. Beathard underthrew the ball deep to wide receiver Richie James.

Mullens would return to the field on the next series.

San Francisco dominated New Orleans the first half, gaining more total yards (166 to 90) and first downs 13 to 6). The 49ers ran 40 offensive plays to the Saints’ 21 while controlling the time of possession (22 minutes to 8 minutes).

After jumping out to a 10-0 lead following a 32-yard field goal by kicker Robbie Gould early in the second quarter, special teams made some costly mistakes.

They gave up a 75-yard kickoff return to Deonte Harris to setup a field goal for the Saints that cut the lead to 10-3.

Later in the quarter, 49ers special-teamer Ken Webster found himself too close to a punt that Trent Taylor let land. The ball hit Webster in the face mask and the Saints recovered at the 49ers’ own 21-yard line.

Two plays later, the 49ers defense made a big play when defensive tackle Kentavius Street sacked Saints quarterback Drew Brees for an 8-yard loss. Brees was hurt on the play. Street’s first career sack was nullified by a questionable roughing the passer penalty after Street landed on Brees. Replays appear to show that Street turned his body to the side to avoid landing on Brees with his full body weight.

Backup quarterback Jameis Winston replaced Brees in the second half. Brees was ruled out of the game with a rib injury. He finished 8 of 13 for 76 yards and one touchdown.

That penalty appeared to be crucial as it led to a 1-yard touchdown run by running back Alvin Kamara three plays later that tied the game at 10-10.

New Orleans would add another touchdown before the end of the first half and take a 17-10 lead into the locker room at halftime after running back Jerick McKinnon was stopped for a 2-yard loss on fourth-and-1 from the New Orleans 41-yard line. Kamara scored his second touchdown in the first half on a 3-yard pass from Brees.

It was a calamity of errors for the 49ers in the game, but the 49ers had opportunities to pull out the upset on the road. Safety Jimmie Ward dropped a potential interception inside the Saints’ territory, but the muffed punt by wide receiver Richie James in the fourth quarter was the back breaker for San Francisco.

Kamara’s third score of the game (a 1-yard run) gave the Saints a commanding 27-10 lead with 7:29 left in the game. The Saints do-it-all running back finished with seven catches for 83 yards and a touchdown, while running for 15 yards on 8 carries and two touchdowns.

The 49ers would add a 40-yard field goal to cut the Saints’ lead to 27-13, but too little too late.

San Francisco’s inability to run the football was clearly evident from the Saints closing up any and all running lanes. The aforementioned McKinnon rushed for 33 yards on 18 carries. Rookie running back JaMychal Hasty rushed for 13 yards on 3 carries, but injured his clavicle on a tackle by Saints linebacker Demario Davis.

Rookie defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw had his best game of his career, registering 1.5 of San Francisco’s three sacks. Despite the final outcome, the 49ers defense played well holding the Saints to 237 total yards and 2 of 12 on third down.

49ers dismantle Patriots, 33-6, in Foxboro behind Jeff Wilson’s 3 TDs; four takeaways from the defense

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) gets the blocking in first half action against the New England Patriots on Sun Oct 25, 2020 in Foxboro. 49ers running back Jeffrey Wilson carried for three touchdowns in the contest. (AP News photo)

By Joe Hawkes
Staff Writer

FOXBORO, MA — The San Francisco 49ers should enjoy the plane ride back to Santa Clara, after earning a 33-6 victory over the New England Patriots on Sunday evening at a fan-less Gillette Stadium.

The 49ers (4-3) keeps pace in a stacked NFC West as they will now enter a pivotal Week 8 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. San Francisco may have to travel to Seattle without two key players in wide receiver Deebo Samuel (hamstring) and running back Jeff Wilson (ankle), both leaving Sunday’s win with injuries and didn’t return to the game.

For the second straight game, the 49ers scored a TD on their opening possession. Last week, San Francisco marched down the field on the Los Angeles Rams and scored a TD to quickly claim a 7-0 lead.

This week, the 49ers set the tone of the game by finishing off a nine-play 75-yard drive with the first of Wilson’s three TDs in the game. In the first half, head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense racked up 301 yards of production and claimed a 23-3 lead at halftime.

Wilson was the workhorse for the 49ers, who were thin at running back with both Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman out with injuries. San Francisco listed Wilson as questionable for the game after sitting out the previous two games with a calf injury. In a surprising move, Wilson got his third career start and didn’t disappoint as he posted a career-high in rushing yards.

All in the first half.

Wilson, whose previous career-best was 90 yards against the Denver Broncos late in the 2018 season, rushed for 92 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries in 30 minutes of action. He finished with 17 carries for 112 yards and a career-best three touchdowns before exiting the game with an ankle injury in the middle of the third quarter.

Wilson was taken to the 49ers locker room on a cart. He was injured on a 7-yard scoring run that gave the 49ers a commanding 30-6 lead.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo played good, but not great in his return to Foxboro. The former Patriot backup signal caller completed 20 of 25 pass attempts for 277 yards (with two interceptions in the first half).

Garoppolo made plays early, converting a third-and-3 after breaking a tackle in the backfield to pick up four yards. He also connected on sharp passes to Samuel for 23- and 14-yard gains to keep drives alive. Garoppolo had completions to six different receivers, but it was rookie wideout Brandon Aiyuk who benefited the most.

Aiyuk finished with a career-high six receptions for 115 yards.

San Francisco did a tremendous job in controlling the clock in the game, dominating the time of possession over the Patriots (38:23-21:37) while picking up 26 first downs to just 17 for New England, and racking up 467 yards of total offense.

The 49ers ran 63 offensive plays, compared to just 49 by the Patriots, who looked anemic for the entirety of the game.

Garoppolo got the better result in his head-to-head matchup with Cam Newton, who had a rough performance completing just nine of 15 pass attempts for 98 yards an three interceptions. Newton was benched in the second half and replaced by backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham.

San Francisco’s defense put the clamps on Newton and the Patriots’ offense.

The 49ers limited New England to just 241 yards and 1 for 6 on third downs. New England’s scoring consisted of two Nick Folk field goals from 40 and 41 yards.

49ers middle linebacker Fred Warner, who is making a strong case for Defensive Player of the Year, has been a lifesaver for San Francisco this season. Warner was all over the field, leading the team with seven tackles and one of the four interceptions by the defense. Warner’s second quarter interception was his second on the season.

Cornerbacks Emmanuel Moseley (one) and Jamar Taylor (two) had the other interceptions for the 49ers.

With the Niners holding a 20-point lead at halftime, the Patriots had just 59 yards of total offense.

Meanwhile, the Patriots (2-4) have lost three games in a row for the first time since 2002. The 27-point loss at home was the worse under head coach Bill Belichick.

 

49ers hold off Rams, 24-16, behind Jimmy Garoppolo’s 3 TDs; strong defense

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) gets the football away as he’s being rushed by the Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald (99) and nose tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day (69) in the first half of Sun Oct 18, 2020 at Levis Stadium in Santa Clara (AP News photo)

By Joe Hawkes
Staff Writer

SANTA CLARA, Calif — In a game that many viewed was a must-win to salvage their season, the San Francisco 49ers was able to outlast the visiting Los Angeles Rams, 24-16, on NBC’s Sunday Night Football behind three TDs from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the first half and a strong effort from the defense.

It’s the first win for the 49ers at Levi’s Stadium this season, after dropping their first three home games to the Arizona Cardinals, Philadelphia Eagles and the Miami Dolphins.

The 49ers (3-3) jumped on the Rams early, scoring touchdowns on three of their first four possessions. On San Francisco’s first possession, Garoppolo engineered a 6-play, 76-yard drive that was capped off by a 6-yard pass to wide receiver Deebo Samuel for the TD to put the 49ers up 7-0 in the first quarter.

Garoppolo was 4-for-4 for 69 yards on the opening drive.

After the 49ers’ defense forced the Rams to punt on their opening possession of the game, San Francisco took a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter on Garopplo’s second TD of the game. Garoppolo would find tight end George Kittle for a a 44-yard score after the 49ers faced a 4th and 2 from the Rams 44-yard line.

Kittle’s score punctuated a 10-play, 87-yard drive in 6:08 for the 49ers, who emphasized getting the football out of Garoppolo’s hands quickly and relied heavily on the running game which took a hit when running back Raheem Mostert left the game early in the third quarter with an ankle injury.

Mostert was off to a good start, carrying the ball 17 times for 65 yards before his exit.

Kittle led all receivers with seven catches for 109 yards and the TD, while Samuel finished six catches for 66 yards and a score.

After quarterback Jared Goff found wide receiver Robert Woods in the middle of the end zone on a 10-yard TD to get the Rams on the scoreboard and cut San Francisco’s lead to 14-6, following a missed extra point, the 49ers would put together another scoring drive shortly before halftime.

Garoppolo engineered a 13-play, 75-yard drive that chewed up 7:16 and found rookie wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk for a 2-yard score that gave the 49ers a commanding 21-6 lead.

Garoppolo was 17 of 21 for 215 yards and 3 TDs in the first half. Offensively, the 49ers had their way with the Rams, racking up 18 first downs and 291 yards of total offense in the first 30 minutes of the game.

Garoppolo, who was benched after the first half in last week’s 43-17 embarrassing loss to the Miami Dolphins at home in which he completed just 7 of 17 passing for 77 yards, two interceptions and a career-low 15.7 passer rating; bounced back this week with a better showing by completing 23 of 33 passes for 268 yards, 3 TDs and a 124.3 passer rating.

Oh yeah, he improves to 4-0 against the Rams all-time.

Coming into the game, the talk leading up to the showdown against the Rams was if Garoppolo could show that he’s still the right quarterback for the 49ers long term and could San Francisco’s much maligned offensive line withstand the dominating force that is perennial Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald.

San Francisco’s offensive line, which has been a target of criticism the last two weeks as they surrendered 23 quarterback hits and 10 sacks in the last two games, kept Donald off Garoppolo the entire night.

For the game, Donald registered just one solo tackle and one quarterback pressure after recording four of the Rams’ eight sacks against the Washington Football Team last week in Los Angeles’ 30-10 win on the road.

In the second half, the Rams (4-2) converted their first possession into a 42-yard field goal by kicker Samuel Sloman to cut the 49ers’ lead to 21-9.

Following back-to-back 3-and-outs by the 49ers, Goff drove the Rams down to the 49ers’ 2-yard line and looked like Los Angeles would finish off the drive with a TD but Goff’s pass intended for wide receiver Josh Reynolds was intercepted in the end zone by cornerback Jason Verrett.

Verrett thwarted a golden scoring opportunity for Goff and the Rams that could’ve changed the tenor of the game.

Goff finished 19 of 38 for 198 yards, 2 TDs and one interception as 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh mixed up coverages that didn’t allow Goff and the Rams’ offense to get comfortable on Sunday night.

The 49ers added a 49-yard field goal by Robbie Gould to push their lead up to 24-9 in the fourth quarter, but the Rams wouldn’t go down quietly.

On the Rams’ next drive, Goff hooked up with Reynolds for a 40-yard TD over cornerback Emmaunel Moseley. Moseley was called for a defensive pass interference call, but the Rams declined the penalty making the score 24-16.

San Francisco’s defense held the Rams to 4 of 12 on third downs and 311 yards of total offense. Much of those yards came on the Rams’ final drive of the game. Moseley, along with linebackers Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw paced the defense with seven tackles each.

The schedule gets more daunting for San Francisco with games against the New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, and Rams again in the next five weeks.

For at least one night, the 49ers have quieted the skeptics with an impressive win over their divisional rivals from Southern California.

 

Eagles stun 49ers on the road, 25-20, to earn first win of the season

The Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Genard Avery (58) and nose tackle Javon Hargrave (93) sack San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens in the first half for what would be a rough after noon for San Francisco at Levis Stadium Santa Clara on Sun Oct 4, 2020 (AP News photo)

By Joe Hawkes
Staff Writer

SANTA CLARA, Calif — Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles traveled to the west coast winless.

They left the Golden State with their first win of the season and in first-place in the hapless NFC East after taking down the reigning NFC champions, the San Francisco 49ers, 25-20 to cap off Sunday’s Week 4 action on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.

“First place sounds really good, but we have a long way ahead of us,” Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said after the game. “Only the first quarter of the season is done. We got a long road ahead. These guys don’t quit. It’s a resilient group.”

Wentz’s 42-yard TD pass to third string wide receiver Travis Fulgham with 5:50 left in the game proved to be the game winner for Philadelphia, who were playing playing without their top three wide receivers and backup tight end Dallas Goedert.

Following a botch snap by rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts that sent the Eagles to second-and-18 from the 42-yard line, Fulgham was able to get a step on backup cornerback Dontae Johnson and Wentz dropped the pass perfectly in Fulgham’s hands as he crossed the goal line to give the Eagles an 18-14 lead.

On the very next possession for the 49ers, backup quarterback Nick Mullens, who started his second-straight game for the injured Jimmy Garoppolo, threw an interception that linebacker Alex Singleton returned for a TD that stretched Philadelphia’s lead to 25-14.

Wentz finished the game completing 18-of-28 passes for 193 yards, a TD and a league-leading seventh interception.

“It’s a huge relief. Big team win,” Wentz said. “It’s fun to see these young guys step up and make plays in big moments like this.”

With the loss, the 49ers (2-2) have lost their first two home games of the year. San Francisco lost to the visiting Arizona Cardinals, 24-20, in Week 1.

Mullens was responsible for all three of San Francisco’s turnovers on the night, throwing a red zone interception in the second quarter and losing a fumble on a strip sack by cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc that defensive tackle Malik Jackson recovered that setup the go-ahead score for Philadelphia.

“We had plenty of opportunities. I really just didn’t execute,” Mullens said. “The way I’m feeling is pretty black and white right now. I just didn’t execute. That’s what it comes down to. Three turnovers, 14 points off turnovers. That’s really about it.”

Mullens completed 18-of-26 passes for 200 yards, one TD and two interceptions before being benched in the fourth quarterback and replaced by third-string quarterback C.J. Beathard.

Beathard engineered a late TD drive that and moved the 49ers to the Philadelphia 33-yard line, before his desperation heave into the end zone came up short and ending San Francisco’s comeback attempt.

Beathard completed 14-of-19 passes for 138 yards.

Garoppolo, who has missed the last two games due to an ankle injury, is expected to return next week as the 49ers will host the Miami Dolphins.

Rookie wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk scored the 49ers first TD of the day, a 38-yard rush on a lateral from Mullens in the first quarter, while tight end George Kittle returned in a major way after missing the last two games, registered a career-high 15 catches for 183 yards a TD to lead the 49ers.

Running back Jerick McKinnon led San Francisco in rushing, racking up 54 yards on 14 carries and a TD from 1-yard out and was second on the team with seven catches for 43 yards for the game.

As an offense, the 49ers dominated the Eagles in total yards (417 to 174), first-downs (25 to 18) and total plays (70 to 59), but just couldn’t get the job done tonight against a hungry and desperate Philadelphia squad looking for its first win of the year.

“After this game, we wanted to be dog tired,” defensive back Jalen Mills said. “We had to give everything we had to get this win.”

Philadelphia came into Sunday’s games with no takeaways on defense, but racked up all three takeaways from poor decisions from Mullens. The Eagles had one takeaway all season, and that was on special teams.

The injuries to San Francisco’s defense continues to pile up, as defensive lineman Ziggy Ansah left the game in the first-half with a biceps injury that head coach Kyle Shanahan fears could be season-ending; while nickel cornerback K’Waun Williams left the game in the fourth quarter with a knee injury.

Ansah will have an MRI tomorrow to determine the severity of his biceps injury.

 

 

49ers draft two players Thursday that could help right away in Round One

Defensive tackle of the San Francisco 49ers Javon Kinlaw who was selected out of South Carolina seen here during his collegiate days (AP Photo)

By Joe Hawkes
SRS Contributor

Armed with two first-round picks (No. 13 and No. 31 overall) heading into the 2020 NFL Draft, the talk that the San Francisco 49ers would select a play-making wide receiver with their first pick was a forgone conclusion.

After swapping the 13th pick with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (who was selecting 14th overall), the 49ers selected South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw on Thursday night. San Francisco also acquired the 117th pick (fourth-round) in the deal from the Vikings, although they also had to surrender a seventh-rounder to complete the deal.

The 49ers have now drafted a defensive lineman in the first round in five of the past six drafts.

Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh has a new weapon to deploy on opposing offenses.

Kinlaw can help San Francisco right away, filling a void that was left after the team decided to trade defensive lineman DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts last month. In exchange for Buckner, the 49ers received the No. 13 overall pick from the Colts.

A native of Trinidad, Kinlaw is still a newbie to the game of football. Kinlaw spent most of his childhood homeless and moved around often. After playing in junior college right out of high school, Kinlaw’s road navigated to South Carolina where he would played in 37 of 38 games and was named a team captain.

The 6-foot-5, 324-pound Kinlaw finished his collegiate career with 82 tackles, 10 sacks, 17 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, and eight passes defensed in three seasons. He was named a first-team All-American after totaling six sacks and six tackles for a loss as a senior with the Gamecocks.

Later in the first-round, San Francisco made another deal, trading away the No. 31, No. 117 (acquired from the Buccaneers) and No. 176 to the Minnesota Vikings for the No. 25 pick. With that pick, the 49ers selected Arizona State wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.

In a draft that is rich with talent at wide receiver, the 49ers selected the 6-foot-tall, 205-pound Sun Devil product that has a gigantic 81-inch wingspan making his catch radius seemingly endless. Most draft experts has Aiyuk as an above-average route runner with the burst to separate from man-to-man coverage. Aiyuk could face some trouble early adjusting to the NFL, but should flourish as he gets comfortable in 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense.

With the loss of veteran wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders in free agency to the New Orleans Saints in the offseason, Aiyuk gives franchise quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo another pass-catching threat.

Aiyuk, who is a native of Reno, NV, attended Sierra College in Rocklin, CA before moving on to Arizona State, where he caught 98 passes for 1,666 yards and 11 touchdowns in two seasons in the desert.