NFL Team Report - San Francisco 49ers - INSIDE SLANT
The San Francisco 49ers ran four reverses to wide receivers and watched as their quarterback took off downfield another seven times Saturday night against the San Diego Chargers.
One might have thought head coach Jim Harbaugh mistakenly brought his game plan for the University of Michigan's 2015 season opener to Levi's Stadium Saturday evening.
Alas, maybe it was a glimpse into the 49ers' future, whether Harbaugh is the coach or perhaps somebody general manager Trent Baalke plucks out of college or elsewhere.
The 49ers rushed for a college-like 355 yards in Saturday's 38-35 overtime loss to San Diego. It's just something you don't see very often in an NFL game.
It was something never previously seen in a 49ers game. The 355 yards was an all-time franchise record by 27 yards. Only 23 NFL teams since 1940 have topped that mark. That's about three a decade.
How did it happen? Running back Frank Gore pointed to the fact that offensive tackle Anthony Davis was back in the lineup, giving the 49ers four of their regular five starters for one of the few times this season.
"For the first time in a long time, we had our whole group together," Gore said after his turn-back-the-clock, 158-yard effort. "All year, we missed one guy here, one guy there. I think that is what the problem has been. My O-line dominated their D-line tonight."
The total might have been unforeseen, but surely the means was something 49ers fans had envisioned all season. Time and again, a public cry had gone up for more running. But more often than not, it fell upon deaf ears.
Gore was getting old. Colin Kaepernick couldn't be subjected to the punishment. The offensive line was banged up.
Every week, there seemingly was a new excuse as to why a team that had accumulated the third-most rushing yards in the league last season resided only in the middle of the pack this year.
For one night, everything seemed right. Even in a loss. In fac, it could be said that the 49ers never trailed during the game. They scored first and were never behind until San Diego's Nick Novak nailed a 40-yard field goal to end the game with 10:11 showing on the clock in overtime.
NFL Team Report - San Francisco 49ers - NOTES, QUOTES
--The 49ers had three turnovers and nine penalties in Saturday's 38-35 overtime loss to the San Diego Chargers.
Not every miscue was critical, but some were as costly as any all season.
--A fumble by fullback Bruce Miller at the San Diego 1-yard line denied the 49ers an opportunity to take a 14-0 lead on their second possession of the game.
--A holding penalty on offensive tackle Joe Staley nullified a 21-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin later in the first period.
--An illegal chop block by running back Frank Gore in pass protection negated a 63-yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis in the third quarter.
--A fumble by quarterback Colin Kaepernick on a sack was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown by Chargers defensive tackle Corey Liuget late in the third period.
--A fumble on a run by wide receiver Quinton Patton on the second play of overtime set up San Diego's game-winning field goal.
--Jim Harbaugh's weekend was once again engulfed in reports attributed to unnamed sources.
Nothing substantive came out of the "news," but what the "noise" lacked in quality was more than made up for in quantity.
--One report insisted Harbaugh was torn between staying in the NFL and returning to college football, where another report had him being offered $48 million over six years by the University of Michigan.
--Another report claimed 49ers owner Jed York and general manager Trent Baalke want to meet with Harbaugh at the earliest possible opportunity following next week's season finale against Arizona to determine the coach's fate and, presumably, begin a search for a new coach.
--And yet another report stated that Stanford's David Shaw, considered to be a candidate to replace Harbaugh in San Francisco, wants to remain with the Cardinal.
--The 49ers took Sunday off, so no update was made available on the status of the several players injured in Saturday's loss.
The most serious injury appeared to be suffered by safety Eric Reid, who left the game in the first quarter with a concussion. He did not return to the game and now must pass the NFL protocol for concussions in order to be eligible to play in the season finale against Arizona.
Others who were hurt in the game or played with injuries included: wide receiver Michael Crabtree (knee), wide receiver Brandon Lloyd (groin), wide receiver Bruce Ellington (hamstring), outside linebacker Aldon Smith (concussion) and outside linebacker Aaron Lynch (leg).
The 49ers began the game with 16 players on the Injured Reserve List and had four guys with injuries -- running back Carlos Hyde (ankle), wide receiver Stevie Johnson (knee), outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks (thumb) and cornerback Tramaine Brock (hamstring) -- among their seven inactives.
NFL Team Report - San Francisco 49ers - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--QB Colin Kaepernick recorded the third-highest rushing total for a quarterback in NFL history when he ran for 151 yards in Saturday's loss to San Diego. Kaepernick and RB Frank Gore (158) were the first teammates to rush for at least 150 yards in the same NFL game since 1976. Kaepernick's 90-yard touchdown run was the longest by a quarterback in 49ers history and second-longest ever in the NFL, trailing only a 93-yarder by Oakland's Terrelle Pryor last season.
--RB Frank Gore rushed for 158 yards in Saturday's loss to San Diego. The total was his highest since 2009 and the fifth-highest of his career. The 100-yard game was the 38th of Gore's career, which ranks second among all NFL active players behind Minnesota's Adrian Peterson (42). Gore's 52-yard rushing touchdown was his longest since 2011. Gore had been questionable for the game because of a concussion sustained the previous week at Seattle.
--RB Carlos Hyde was inactive for Saturday's game against San Diego because of an ankle injury suffered a week earlier against Seattle. Hyde remains on the active roster and thus is eligible to return for the season finale against Arizona.
--WR Anquan Boldin had a 21-yard touchdown reception called back because of a holding penalty on offensive tackle Joe Staley in the first quarter of Saturday's loss to San Diego. Boldin nonetheless was able to lead the 49ers in both receptions (seven) and receiving yards (61) in the game.
--WR Michael Crabtree did not start Saturday's game against San Diego because of knee injury. He was pressed into action in the second half because of an injury sustained by WR Brandon Lloyd. Crabtree finished regulation play without a catch, but hauled in a 5-yarder on the first play of overtime to avoid a personal shutout. He played a total of 15 snaps.
--WR Bruce Ellington scored on an 8-yard reception and a 1-yard run in Saturday's loss to San Diego. He became the first 49ers rookie to score both on a run and a pass in the same game since RB Amp Lee accomplished the feat in 1992.
--TE Vernon Davis had a 63-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter nullified by an illegal chop block by RB Frank Gore. Davis had no other catches in the game.
--OT Anthony Davis played for the first time Saturday since suffering a concussion against New Orleans in Week 10. With four of the 49ers' regular offensive-line starters in the lineup, the club rushed for a franchise-record 355 yards in the 38-35 overtime loss to the San Diego Chargers.
--NT Quinton Dial recorded one of the 49ers' two sacks in their loss Saturday to San Diego. The sack was his second of the season.
--ILB Chris Borland was placed on the season-ending Injured Reserve List before Saturday's game. Borland suffered an ankle injury in the 49ers' loss at Seattle in Week 15. The rookie is the 49ers' leading tackler this season.
--LB Chase Thomas was promoted from the practice squad and played 15 plays on special teams Saturday against San Diego. Thomas replaced injured ILB Chris Borland on the active roster.
--OLB Aldon Smith briefly left Saturday's game against San Diego because of a head injury. He was tested for a concussion and allowed to return to the game. He wound up playing 71 of the defensive unit's 83 snaps and had only one tackle.
--OLB Ahmad Brooks was held out of Saturday's game against San Diego because of a dislocated thumb sustained in the Week 15 loss at Seattle. Brooks is expected to practice this week in hopes of playing in the season finale against Arizona.
--OLB Dan Skuta recorded his fifth sack of the season in Saturday's loss to San Diego. Skuta has now recorded sacks in three consecutive games.
--CB Tramaine Brock missed his sixth consecutive game Saturday because of a hamstring injury. He remains on the active roster and will attempt to return for the season finale against Arizona.
--CB Chris Culliver recorded his third interception of the season in the third quarter of Saturday's loss to San Diego. Culliver now has six career interceptions.
--CB Perrish Cox added to his team lead with his fifth interception in the first quarter of Saturday's loss to San Diego. Cox increased his career total for interceptions to six.
--S Antoine Bethea recorded his first career interception return for a touchdown in Saturday's loss to San Diego. Bethea ran back a QB Philip Rivers pass 49 yards for a second-quarter score in the 38-35 loss. The 49-yard return also was the longest of the veteran's career.
--S Eric Reid suffered a concussion in the first quarter of Saturday's loss against San Diego. Reid played only 11 defensive snaps. He must pass the NFL protocol for concussions in order to be eligible to play in the season finale against Arizona.
--S Craig Dahl was in on 72 of the 83 defensive snaps as a replacement for injured Eric Reid in Saturday's loss against San Diego. Dahl was beaten by Chargers WR Eddie Royal for one of QB Philip Rivers' four touchdown passes in the game.
REPORT CARD VS. CHARGERS
--PASSING OFFENSE: C -- Normally a 114-yard performance with just one touchdown in a loss would rate lower than a "C." But why throw the ball when the team is rushing for a franchise-record 355 yards? Colin Kaepernick's yardage total would have been significantly greater if not for penalties that negated 63- and 21-yard touchdown passes to tight end Vernon Davis and wideout Anquan Boldin, respectively.
--RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- The 49ers hit the Chargers from just about every angle in the run game, with running back Frank Gore (158 yards) finding room up the middle, quarterback Colin Kaepernick (151 yards) scampering around San Diego defenders and wide receiver Bruce Ellington (12 yards) fooling the Chargers on three reverses. Alas, an "A-plus" became an "A" when the team's final run -- a reverse by wideout Quinton Patton -- resulted in a fumble that set up San Diego's game-winning field goal in overtime.
--PASS DEFENSE: C-minus -- The 49ers intercepted Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers three times, but needed one more on either of San Diego's final two possessions of regulation that resulted in touchdowns that erased a 14-point deficit. The most disturbing aspect of Rivers' 356-yard performance was that 79 of it came via seven hook-ups with backup wideout Dontrelle Inman, who was replacing injured Chargers star Keenan Allen. Inman entered the game never having made an NFL catch.
--RUSH DEFENSE: C-plus -- The 49ers caught a break with top Chargers rusher Ryan Mathews out with an ankle injury. They held San Diego to a modest 76 yards in regulation, but then couldn't stop backup Ronnie Brown in overtime as he advanced the ball 22 yards on six plunges up the middle, shortening the length of Nick Novak's game-winning field goal.
--SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- Special teams played almost no role in the defeat, but could have had Phil Dawson connected on an improbable 60-yard field goal attempt on the final play of regulation. The kick came up well short, but Dawson had an excuse. It was his first field goal attempt of the game, and he hadn't as much as left the bench since the 49ers' fifth and final touchdown late in the third quarter.
--COACHING: A-minus -- Say this for Jim Harbaugh: He said his team, eliminated from the playoff race one week earlier, would come to play, and it did. It even returned to its roots of running the football, which it did better than any team in 49ers history during a 355-yard rushing effort. Alas, the coaches once again couldn't script a touchdown drive in the fourth quarter or a way to get to Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers more than just twice on his 56 dropbacks.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun