Sunday’s 49ers looked a lot like last year’s 49ers. Gritty, competitive, never-say-die, back-and-forth nail-biter but short end of the stick. Just enough positive play to stay in the game and just enough mistakes to lose.
CJ Beathard filled in admirably for the injured Jimmy Garoppolo, throwing for nearly 300 yards while getting pounded on way too many plays. The two game-turning interceptions charged to him were not his fault.
The first occurred when Garrett Celek used his hands to rebound a perfectly catchable ball into the grateful hands of the Chargers’ Trevor Williams, who he ran it almost all the way to the other end of the field, where Los Angeles settled for a field goal instead of the Niners getting one or even a TD. A six to ten point swing in what ended as a two point game.
The second int was Joe Staley‘s fault, for getting hurt and allowing Garry Gilliam to replace him and give up the game ending sack, which whoofled the ball into the air for Chargers’ DE Isaac Rochell to cradle it lovingly to the turf.
HC Kyle Shanahan deserves a bowl full of blame himself, both for his strange game plan and losing two Challenges, which left him with no time outs available at the two minute warning, allowing Philip Rivers to kneel out the game. RB Matt Breida entered the game tied for the league lead in rushing, but only got nine carries against the Chargers. With a backup QB in the game, one would think the rushing attack would have been more prominently featured. Instead, Beathard went back to pass 37 times.
Once again, 49er players limping off the field injured was a common sight. Staley and Dante Pettis were the most prominently wounded fellows. We might be tempted to call this endless string of injuries the past few years as the Curse of McCloughan. Former GM Scot McCloughan made it clear he favored big guys to smaller guys, one reason being big guys don’t get injured as much. The current regime seems to lean more toward smaller, quicker players.
Or maybe it’s just the Curse of that other fellow who went 49-21 here a few years back. He had the uncanny ability to invariably win close games, not lose them. An underrated skill that our current HC has yet to develop.