In a game that ended an era as much as a season, the San Francisco 49ers finished with flourish but ultimately fell short in a season-ending 25-23 loss to the Seattle Seahawks Sunday.
In the last game under general manager Trent Baalke, head coach Chip Kelly, and possibly quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Shaun Draughn scored two first-half touchdowns, and Kaepernick was an efficient 17-for-22 for 215 yards and a touchdown.
Halfway through the fourth quarter on a Seahawks punt, some 49ers trickery helped put the 49ers within striking distance. At the 35-yard-line, Jeremy Kerley fielded a Jon Ryan punt wide of the right hashmark before sailing a cross-field lateral to Raheem Mostert — promoted a day earlier from the practice squad — who rumbled down the left sideline to the Seattle 35.
Kerley hauled in with one hand a 27-yard Kaepernick pass at the Seattle 5 before Garrett Celek caught a nine-yard touchdown pass from Kaepernick to cut the Seahawks’ lead to 25-23 with 5:42 left in the fourth quarter.
A depleted, exhausted San Francisco defense couldn’t stop Seattle’s backups from marching to four first downs and eating up the final 5:42 in ended up as Chip Kelly’s final game as 49ers head coach.
Kelly had not been formally dismissed as head coach when asked about his future in Sunday’s postgame press conference:
“I live my life in vision, not circumstances. So I control what I can control. What we can control is how we coach our players and what we do with them, and if that’s good enough, it’s good enough. If it’s not good enough, then so be it.”
A sloppy start didn’t bode well for San Francisco, as Kaepernick and Draughn botched a handoff on the second play from scrimmage to hand the ball to Russell Wilson and the Seahawks (10-5-1) at the 49ers’ 25-yard-line. But the 49ers defense held the Seahawks to a 31-yard field-goal for a quick 3-0 lead.
The lead was short-lived after the 49ers responded with a 75-yard scoring drive on their second possession.
The 49ers took a 14-3 lead early in the second quarter. Draughn rushed for a one-yard touchdown for his second of the game.
The Seahawks settled for a field goal after a Russell Wilson pass to Jermaine Kearse fell incomplete. Hauschka hit a 32-yard field goal to cut the 49ers’ lead to 14-6 midway through the second quarter. They pulled within 14-13 at 6:55 when Luke Willson caught an 11-yard pass from Wilson for his seventh career touchdown catch in Santa Clara.
Buckner stayed positive after a solid rookie year at defensive end:
“As a group, and as an individual, it was a good game. We just have to get better individually during the offseason…we just have to find a way to turn things around.”
San Francisco received more bad news late in the second quarter when Rashard Robinson left the game with an ankle injury and didn’t return.
The Seahawks expanded their lead to 22-14 in the third quarter on a 33-yard Hauschka field goal, before Nolan Frese sailed a punt snap over the head of Jon Ryan and out of the end zone, resulting in a 49ers safety to close the score to 22-16.
Hauschka kicked in a 28-yard field goal to extend the Seahawks’ lead to 25-16 at 14:08 of the fourth quarter before the 49ers scored their final touchdown.
Glenn Dorsey said he was uncertain about his future:
“It is what it is. It was the last game of the year. Just got to keep grinding and see what happens.”
The 49ers suffered bad news before the game even started as Je’Ron Hamm was carted off the field during warmups with an apparent leg injury. Sunday’s inactives included Blaine Gabbert, Mike Davis, Prince Charles-Iworah, Andrew Tiller, Tony Jerod-Eddie, Tank Carradine and Zach Moore. … Trent Baalke confirmed on KNBR-AM before the game that he had been dismissed as general manager, and Chip Kelly was sacked as head coach hours after the game was over. San Francisco is once again seeking both a general manager and head coach, just as they did after the 2004 2-14 campaign when Terry Donahue and Dennis Erickson were shown the door.