If you thought the San Francisco 49ers would show signs of improvement, think again.
The 49ers blew a second-half lead for what seems like the millionth time Sunday, losing 23-17 in OT to the cellar-dweller New York Jets.
San Francisco had trouble tackling on defense when it mattered most. The 49ers offense dozed off in the second half. Much of the team looked like they didn’t want to be there.
If that’s not bad enough, the injuries continue to pile up for the 49ers. Vance McDonald recently signed a five-year contract extension, which seems sketchy given McDonald’s frequent injuries and dropped balls. The tight end left Sunday’s game with a shoulder injury in the first half and didn’t return.
Joe Staley was listed as doubtful in the 49ers’ final injury report after suffering a hamstring injury last Wednesday in practice. Staley, a staple on the 49ers’ offensive line, was inactive Sunday for the first time in 92 games.
Torrey Smith was also ruled out with a concussion in the third quarter. The 27-year-old soared for a pass and came down hard on the ground, landing hard on his left shoulder and hitting his head hit the ground with significant force.
The 49ers tried to bounce back with a depleted defense, but the Jets responded to San Francisco’s early efforts with two touchdowns and three field goals to doom the 49ers to their 12th straight loss.
At his Monday press conference, 49ers head coach Chip Kelly took the blame for a vanishing offense:
“I think offensively we were productive in the first half, but in the second half, we didn’t stay on the field. The first drive we had a drop, the second drive we had a drop, and then we had two penalties on the next two drives after that.”
Kelly then provided solutions on how to shore up his team’s sagging second-half offense:
“We have to keep ourselves out of negative solutions. … It’s difficult for us to convert on penalties right now, so I think it’s a penalty thing, even though we didn’t have a lot of them.”
The 49ers had two key drops in the third quarter Sunday, and a couple of penalties cost the 49ers even more in the fourth quarter.
Kelly said he told his team at Sunday’s halftime that they had to finish. The 49ers brought a 14-0 lead into the locker room after the first half, only to watch their dominant first-half performance slip away due to a conservative offense.
The 49ers have shown small steps of incremental improvement, but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done. If they continue to spiral downward — on their current trend — the entire team is going to have to start from scratch.