The San Francisco 49ers came up short in their comeback attempt against the Miami Dolphins, with Colin Kaepernick stopped two yards shy of the end zone on the final play of the game. The 31-24 loss helped the team maintain the No. 2 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft order, but losing still stings.
There is plenty of blame to spread around on both sides of the ball. When your defense gives up 31 points, something has gone wrong. However, there are two specific plays on offense that cost the team. The first was Garrett Celek’s fumble midway through the second quarter. The 49ers had a 1st and 10 at the Dolphins 31 with 9:07 left in the second quarter. Kaepernick connected with an open Celek who picked up 16 yards, only to have the ball popped out at the end of the play. The Dolphins proceeded to drive 84 yards for a touchdown.
After the game, Celek acknowledged costing the team with the fumble. He said, “I mean it’s just focusing. Usually when i get the ball, I get two hands on it, but I didn’t that time. And, I regret it ... Me, personally, I kinda feel like I cost the team with that fumble.”
The second play was an interception that bounced off of Torrey Smith’s hands to start the third quarter. The 49ers trailed the Dolphins 14-7 and opened the half at their own 25 yard line. Kaepernick fired a 10-yard pass into Smith, only to see it bounce off Smith’s hands and into the arms of Kiko Alonso. The 49ers defense stopped the Dolphins from there, but starting deep in 49ers territory helped Miami get a field goal out of the turnover.
Smith’s post-game media session video was a bit longer. He talked about the interception, and the offense’s overall performance against a solid Dolphins defense. Here is a transcript (video):
He made a good play. You know, he’s not gonna move at all and you know he’s gonna hold because of the situation. He made a good play.
You thought it was clean?
Yeah, you can’t call it in that situation. What did it look like?
That’s how it goes.
You guys have struggled in the second half this year is there something you can build on? Anything you can take away from?
Like you said, there’s no moral victories, but, it doesn’t help you when you are capable of it, and we’ve known that for ever. Just got to go out there and consistently do it and finish. That’s why we’ve lost so many games. We’ve been there in every game for the most part, we haven’t been able to finish.
You were playing an obviously good defensive team and the offense looked as good as it has all season, do you feel like there’s some momentum building offensively?
Yeah, offensive line did a great job. We can’t shoot ourselves in the foot. I dropped a ball and it led to a pick. I felt like I lost us the game. If you ask me, I feel like the momentum coming out of the half, I didn’t feel like they stopped us, we only stopped ourselves. I feel like I lost us the game.
You had the 4th down catch that kept the game going. What were you doing when you got back into that huddle and you got to the line
I knew there was a chance that could be my ball on that play. So I expected to make it. Just like at the end, I expected to make a play to end the game. I’ve been in that position a lot, I’ve made the play, more often times than not, but you know it’s tough. This is going to hurt me personally for awhile.
You said you cost the team the game, what happened?
I just dropped the ball. Kaepernick made a good ball, I just dropped it. No excuses. It popped up in the air, and it’s embarrassing to be honest.
What is the mentality? Is it different this year than last year?
Just got to go out there and play ball. Everyone wants to win, everyone is working hard. It can be very ugly around here at this time with the way our season’s gone and it hasn’t been. I think it’s a credit to the guys around here, being professional. We just got to figure out a way to finish games. That’s the difference between having a winning record and having a losing one.
Is it better than last year?
I dunno. There’s good guys around here, you gotta be able to handle it.
On the final play where were you?
I was on the backside. I don’t think we really had anything shaking over there. They did a really pretty good job.
Were you able to see Kap make a run for it?
Uh yeah, once turned around I could see him, because I was on a corner route. I could see him just running and I don’t know, it looked like for a second he’d get it but, that stuff closes fast down there. He obviously just flung it out and that was our best chance.