The 49ers failed to win their primetime matchup Sunday after having a week off to recuperate. Instead, Carson Wentz and the Indianapolis Colts’ offense scored touchdowns on three out of four drives after the Niners turned it over. But, on the contrary, there were several plays to love from the 49ers.
Let’s look at ten uplifting and deflating plays below.
Kyle Shanahan established the run on the 49ers’ first offensive drive. It felt like old times as the running game hasn't been the most efficient the previous few weeks. So it was nice to see them get off to a strong start. Elijah Mithcell had back-to-back 14-yard runs and scored on the second. Both of these plays were in a succession of a 20-yard run.
I was harsh on Josh Norman in my five takeaways, but he had a solid game overall. Norman forced a fumble on the Colts’ first offensive play of the game. He led the team in forced fumbles (3) and forced another later in the game, but the Colts recovered it.
Kickers are people too. Joey Slye missed his first extra point, but he nailed this 56-yard field goal in the sloppy weather conditions. Robbie Gould is on injured reserved, and the Niners are tied to him with over $13.6 million in dead cap if they decide to cut him in 2021 or 2022. You have to love general manager John Lynch.
Norman bounced back the drive after giving up a 57-yard bomb to Michael Pittman Jr. Below. He is guarding Zach Pascal and doesn't bite on the double move and almost comes up with the interception. Norman can make this defense better if he eliminates or at least limits the big play and penalties.
Nick Bosa, Kentavious Street, and Azeez Al-Shaair all had an impact on this play. Bosa beats the left tackle off the snap forcing Wentz to step up in the pocket. Together with Streets’ effort to make the play. Quenton Nelson pancakes him, but Street doesn’t give up on the play and forces the fumble. This turnover was a major turn of events as the Colts were threatening to score.
It might sound crazy for this play to be uplifting hence Brandon Aiyuk might not have seen the field again if this was a safety. However, he was saved by a weird rule that allows you to recover the ball in the endzone.
Ultimately, he ended up giving the punter a 79-yard net punt. I think it’s safe to say we can remove Aiyuk from returning punts. This play had a high possibility of being a catastrophe.
The Colts’ offense ran the ball six times while throwing it three times on their first offensive drive out of halftime. Colts head coach Frank Reich elected to go no-huddle on third down, and Al-Shaair’s stopped Jonathan Taylor at the line of scrimmage.
Jimmy Garoppolo was put in his natural element running bootleg play-action passes early in the fourth quarter. Shanahan called three of them in a row, and Garoppolo hit Deebo Samuel and Charlie Woerner en route to a 77-second drive resulting in a touchdown.
Woerner out-snapped Ross Dwelly, who has been the second tight end on the depth chart for the previous three seasons. Woerner caught both of his targets and excelled in blocking, making him one of winners from Week 7.
The defense stood up again once Shanahan’s offense got back on track as they scored a touchdown in three plays in the fourth quarter. Indianapolis’ 10-play, six minute drive was halted by penalties and this stop in Niners territory.
San Francisco’s defense gets a stop playing Cover 4 on third and 12. DeMeco Ryans’ defense held the Colts to a field goal giving the offense another chance to win the game. However, the secondary had the intermediate routes covered forcing Wentz to hit the checkdown. This fourth-quarter stop was likely the last good play on defense.
San Francisco’s secondary has struggled to defend deep passes all season. Norman gives up a 57-yard bomb to Michael Pittman Jr on Wentz’s third throw of the game. The 49ers focused on defending the jump ball and avoiding pass interference penalties in practice this week. Let's hope that holds up against the Chicago Bears.
During the same drive, Jaquiski Tartt tells Norman to switch on the pick-play before it happens. Bad miscommunication can cost you and that's exactly what happened here. The defense gave up plays they shouldn't have Sunday. This Niner defense will be a top group in the NFL once they clean up their mistakes.
This offensive drive came after San Frnacisco forced Wentz to turn the ball over. The 49ers have struggled on third down since Week 4. That trend continued as they struggled tremendously on third down Sunday.
The Colts’ defensive line are in a Green front. Both defensive tackles are in outside shades of the guards, while the edge players are in nine techniques. There is no excuse for giving up interior pressure here, especially when the tackels run a stunt and the pick player gets the pressure.
These two plays are more of a personal reaction than anything. Emmanuel Moseley dropped two interceptions on the same drive. Moseley needs interceptions to earn those incentives. He had a very strong game besides the unnecessary pass interference.
Jimmy Garoppolo had two good passes on the 49ers' first offensive drive out of halftime. However, this third and six is another example of poor execution. The Colts linebackers bailout of a double A-gap mug, and the edge players win their matchup to close the pocket.
Garoppolo felt the pressure and decided to step back instead of climbing the pocket or scrambling, resulting in him getting stripped for his first turnover. Khalil Mack won’t play against the 49ers, which does not mean much because the Colts did not have an elite edge rusher either. Do you think Trey Lance could have got out of this situation?
This play was one of six offensive mistakes that you can’t blame Shanahan for. The argument of Garoppolo getting it out more outside is absurd. Deebo Samuel has to make this catch. He has been the best play-maker on offense, and this drop couldn’t come at a costlier time.
The defense held the Colts to three points prior to this offensive drive. The offense got the ball with seven minutes in the fourth down 23-18. This turnover would give the leading Colts a short with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
This Colts offensive drive comes right after Samuel's costly drop. The 49ers appear to be in Cover 1 with Al-Shaair as the low-hole defender. It was third and five, and Moseley had a good break for a would-be third-down stop.
However, Al-Shaair plunges Pittman jr forward, and Moseley had to be sidelined from the hit. This play ruined Al-Shaair’s great game. You cannot ignore that he played at a high level, but this bang-bang play ended up costing him.
This play alone could be the reason the 49ers cornerbacks received an F in Marc Delucchi's position grades. After Moseley went out, Dre Kirkpatrick came in and gave up a touchdown in a game where he only played three defensive snaps. Kirkpatrick is in a decent position to make a play on the ball, yet he chooses not to defend it.
San Francisco has plenty of things to figure out, and time is running out. We will have to see what Jed York will do if the 49ers miss the playoffs. The Bears may look bad, and Allen Robinson has not been himself, but he and Justin Fields pose a major threat to this defense.