A day after being embarrassed in a 41-13 loss at the Atlanta Falcons Sunday, the 49ers joined most other NFL clubs in their late-season search for healthy bodies.
Five injuries sustained Sunday — wide receiver Quinton Patton, tight end Blake Bell, center Marcus Martin, all for the season, plus cornerback Jimmy Ward and linebacker Nick Bellore — create holes in the 49ers’ 53-man roster. Left tackle Joe Staley (hamstring injury) and wide receiver Torrey Smith (concussion) also didn’t play Sunday.
49ers head coach Chip Kelly acknowledged the search wasn’t straightforward, but his team isn’t the only one going through the process:
“I think a lot of teams are doing that right now. I don’t know what the numbers are within the league, but it just seems that there’s a lot of that going on right now … If not, everybody, no matter where you are, I don’t think there’s a team in the league right now that says, ‘Hey we’re good. We haven’t sustained any injuries.’ Everybody’s sustained something to some extent. You just have to be able to deal with them.”
Even with 13 straight losses, the 49ers are hardly the worst team in the National Football League. The Cleveland Browns, who lost 33-13 to the Buffalo Bills, have yet to win a game this season in 14 tries.
But that’s no excuse for the 49ers refusing to do what they’re supposed to do — win games, become a contender, and eventually resume their quest for six.
Sunday, the Falcons jumped out to a massive 21-0 lead in the first quarter. The 49ers countered with two touchdowns by tight end Garrett Celek and wide receiver Rod Streater, but were limited to just 13 points because kicker Phil Dawson missed an extra point attempt to make it 14-0 after Streater collected a five-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The Falcons scored a touchdown in the second quarter to prevent the 49ers from feeling they have a chance to make a comeback. They added two field goals and a 34-yard touchdown in the second half to put the game out of reach.
The 49ers’ defense set a franchise record for rushing yards allowed in a single season. San Francisco now yield a franchise-worst 2,468 rushing yards through 14 games after the Falcons rushed for 248 yards on Sunday.
The 49ers have two games left, an NFC West basement fight on the road at Los Angeles Sunday and a New Year’s Day matchup hosting Seattle at Levi’s.
Even basic tackling has proven to be a problem for the 49ers’ defense, ranking dead last in the league. In Week 14, the 49ers’ defense even made Jets’ Bilal Powell the 11th running back of the season to rush for 11 yards. That’s not a good look. Though no coach plans for or expects to be 1-13, Kelly’s team seems to have hit bottom with no real long-term solution.