Colin Kaepernick ran for 113 yards, but wasn’t able to get the last two on the final play of the game as the 49ers fell for a 10th-straight on Sunday.
The Niners lost on the last play of the game for the second time in the last three games — this time the final result was a 31-24 loss to the Miami Dolphins — as Kaepernick scrambled with the last seconds of the game ticking off the clock and the team needing a score to extend the game.
“You have to get in the end zone,” Kaepernick told reporters after the loss. “Ultimately, that’s what it comes down to. We had a pass play called, stepped up and thought we had a seam to get in there and didn’t make it in.”
The 49ers forced the Dolphins to beat them through the air, limiting the usually solid Miami rush attack to just 95 yards. But Ryan Tannehill answered the challenge by playing an efficient game, hitting on 20 of his 30 throws for 285 yards and three touchdowns.
Kaepernick wasn’t bad on the other side of the ball, where he accounted for 286 passing yards and three scores. It was the quarterback’s fifth game with at least three touchdowns through the air.
Teams adequately adjusting to the 49ers selling out to stop the run has become a trend over their last four games, but the shift in strategy has made games closer.
The Niners’ pivotal error in this contest was making too many turnovers. Tight end Garrett Celek lost a fumble in the red zone to bring the team into a tie with the San Diego Chargers for the most this season. Kaepernick later had a pass bounce off Torrey Smith’s hands and into the arms Kiko Alonso, a former player of Chip Kelly’s at the University of Oregon.
“In this league,” Kelly said afterwards, “when you lose the turnover battle, you’re … probably not going to win the football game.”
Kelly found no solace in any moral victory derived from the Niners’ fourth-quarter comeback in which they scored 10 points and came within a couple yards of going to overtime, saying, “We’re trying to win football games. You don’t get participation trophies. We didn’t win.”
The 1-10 49ers will now spend the week in Orlando before heading to Chicago for a Week 13 match against the Bears.