March toward one-win season continues with collapse vs. Jets
SANTA CLARA — The 49ers followed their typical game arc on Sunday: They started the game hot and faded after halftime. And even against the dreadful New York Jets, they couldn’t put together enough plays late to win.
Head coach Chip Kelly and his players competed to take the blame after their 23-17 overtime loss, their 12th straight. There was plenty to go around after the Niners squandered a sizable lead at home against a listless opponent.
Kelly said he got more conservative with his offensive play calling after receiver Torrey Smith, tight end Vance McDonald and center Daniel Kilgore left the game due to injuries — the Niners were already shorthanded as left tackle Joe Staley was ruled out before the game.
“That’s on me as a playcaller, but I just really wasn’t confident,” Kelly said.
Jimmie Ward hoped — futilely — to set the tone for the game on the second play from scrimmage, when he picked off a screen pass by Bryce Petty. The pick gave Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers offense field position inside New York’s 10 yard line and on their first offensive play, Carlos Hyde made the second touchdown catch of his career to put the home team up early.
Hyde continued his strong first half — which he finished with 141 yards on seven carries — in the next drive. A 47-yard run by the starter set up a Shaun Draughn touchdown from four yards out to give the Niners a 14-0 lead.
The problem for Kelly’s team on this day: That was their peak.
Phil Dawson missed field goals on back-to-back drives allowing the Jets a chance to chip away at the deficit.
“Every time you go out on the field, you need to make the kick and today I didn’t do that,” Dawson said.
Compounding the damage of not capitalizing on those opportunities was the offense’s impotence in the second half. The team had five possessions in the third and fourth quarters, they ended: punt, punt, punt, punt, punt.
“I just think the Jets came out and played harder” after halftime, Hyde said. “Nothing changed with us.”
Despite the 49ers logging their season-high in sacks, Petty — making his second pro start — found his comfort zone as the game progressed. He led the Jets on a fourth-quarter scoring drive that concluded with running back Bilal Powell, filling in for an injured Matt Forte, spinning into the end zone. Petty followed that with a game-tying two-point conversion run.
The Niners won the coin toss in overtime and received the ball, but their offense failed to convert on 4th and 2 from the Jets’ 37-yard line. It took six plays for the Jets to cover 63 yards to end the game with Powell landing the death blow.
Before the game, a plane flew above Levi’s Stadium towing a sign addressed to the team’s CEO that read, “JED, YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW — #FIREBAALKE”
And with a report circulating before the game that the team was planning to part ways with Trent Baalke, the players and coaches did little to save the team’s embattled general manager on the field. But, for the more optimistic among the Faithful: At least they ensured his successor a high draft pick.