The 49ers couldn’t have gotten off to a better start for San Francisco. The Niners’ offense marched down the field after Elijah Mitchell rushed for over 50 yards and a touchdown, with Jimmy Garoppolo pitching in with a couple of play-action passes.
We’ve talked all week about the lack of turnovers the defense has generated. That changed on the Colts’ first possession after Josh Norman peanut-punched the ball out of Johnathan Taylor’s arms.
The offense took over with a short field, and Mitchell gained 12 yards on his first carry. Unfortuantely, he didn’t touch the ball again on the drive, and the Niners had to settle for a field goal.
After Joey Slye missed his first extra point, he nailed a short field goal and a 56-yarder on the ensuing two drives to give San Francisco a 12-7 lead. I posed the question if the team should keep Slye over Gould before the game. After seeing him boom a 56-yard kick into the wind and rain, the answer has to be yes.
It was an eventful first quarter for Norman. After he forced a fumble, he was flagged for pass interference. That gave Indy the ball in San Francisco’s territory. Norman was caught staring in the backfield and fell for a fake, leaving a receiver open for the Colts’ first touchdown. On the third drive, Norman had an interception he dropped.
Carson Wentz threw up a prayer on 3rd & 10 to save the drive thanks to a pass interference on K’Waun Williams. After Taylor broke a couple of tackles to take it inside of the 5-yard-line, Nick Bosa beat his man and forced Wentz into a Wentz-like decision. He threw a pass that right to Azeez Al-Shaair for an interception.
Despite averaging eight yards per carry, the 49ers only gave the ball to Mitchell once after the turnover. Then, the offense went three-and-out and gave the ball back to the Colts in a minute.
There was no harm, no foul, as the “throw it up, so we get defensive pass interference” offense failed. Emmanuel Moseley dropped two interceptions on the drive. The second pass hit him in the facemask.
The following two possessions saw Nyheim Hines drop a wide-open pass down the sideline on third down. Talanoa Hufanga was picked by a Colts wideout on the play and likely would have given up a touchdown had the pass been caught.
Brandon Aiyuk went through an adventure on a punt return. He failed to field the ball and kicked it as he went to pick it up. Aiyuk kicked it into the end zone. Thankfully, the play resulted in a touchback.
After a Colts punt, the 49ers turned the ball over after Deebo Samuel attempted to fight for extra yards on a pass just shy of the first down marker. A Colts defender punched the ball out to give Indianapolis the ball at San Francisco’s 28-yard line.
Emmanuel Moseley committed pass interference in the end zone, and Carson Wentz ran around the edge on third down to make it 13-12. Indy missed the two-point attempt.
At the half, it was 13-12. The 49ers netted 78 yards to open the game. Their next seven possessions netted 70 yards. San Francisco did not pick up a first down in the second quarter. Fans were booing as the team didn’t attempt to score toward the end of the half, but I understood that move, considering the turnovers and the weather.
After the Colts crossed midfield, Al-Shaair made a huge stop on third down to force a punt. He was excellent up until this point and has been since he was inserted into starting lineup.
As he tends to do, Garoppolo fumbled after holding the ball in the pocket. That gave the Colts yet another short field. The defense had a chance to get off the field, but another pass interference gifted Indy a trip near the goal line, and they cashed it in to take the lead 20-12.
The 49ers were flagged for an illegal man down the field after picking up a first down on their next possession. Then, holding. In the play, Aiyuk got behind the safety and would have walked in for a touchdown. You’re not going to do much on offense in normal conditions when it’s 2nd & 25/3rd & 19. Converting on those downs becomes nearly impossible when it’s pouring rain.
A stop by the defense gave the 49ers the ball back, and what felt like for the first time all season, the offense played with pace. They wound up scoring on three plays in just over a minute after Garoppolo found Deebo, Charlier Woerner, and Deebo again on play-action passes. The two-point conversion was tipped to make the score 20-18.
After the drive, Garoppolo is 8-of-11 for 126 yards and a TD on play-action.
The defense allowed a 3rd & 3, 2nd & 15, and 2nd & 11 conversions on the next Colts drive before holding in the red zone. Michael Badgley’s 42-yard field goal was good to make the score 23-18.
On the drive, Jaquiski Tartt was ruled out with a knee injury. Rookie safety Talanoa Hufanga took his place.
The 49ers turned it over after Garoppolo threw an interception to Samuel. Jimmy’s pass hit Deebo in the chest, but he bobbled it, and it bounced off his pads and into the arms of the defender.
With a chance to get off the field on third down, it looked like the Colts’ WR was short, but Al-Shaair’s tackle got him past the first down marker. Then, Al-Shaair’s friendly fire led to Moseley going down.
On 3rd & 10, Michael Pittman “mossed” Moseley’s replacement Dre Kirkpatrick for a 28-yard touchdown. It was another wasted opportunity for the defense to get off the field. That made it 30-18, Colts.
Garoppolo threw an interception that went into quadruple coverage to ice an embarrassing performance for a team coming off a bye week. Kyle Shanahan will have to answer a lot of questions and take some accountability after tonight.