Sunday afternoon was a gloomy, overcast day in Santa Clara that foreshadowed an even uglier game from the 49ers, as San Francisco faced their once-bitter rivals in the Seattle Seahawks.
With the mood hampered by the weather, the 49ers were once again embarrassed by Seattle (7-4) in a 24-13 shellacking just days after Turkey Day, leaving San Francisco (1-10) thankful to put to rest their ninth consecutive loss to the NFC West counterparts.
Starting off slow — as most 49ers-Seahawks games do — proved to be an influential factor early on. On the first snap of the game, soggy conditions forced an uncharacteristic error from Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who threw a ball directly to the chest of 49ers safety Eric Reid.
Regarding his second pick of the season, Reid said:
“They ran a route we thought they would run and I got a good ball because of the pass rush. They forced him to throw the ball, probably, before he wanted to.”
The interception initially looked to place momentum on the 49ers side, as the team looked to build on their first win of the season in Week 10. That impression was short-lived, as it soon became clear that the 49ers were headed back to their losing ways which have defined their season.
The 49ers were forced to punt on their opening drive after going three-and-out against a Seattle defense that didn’t miss a beat without star defensive backs Richard Sherman (achilles) and Kam Chancellor (neck).
Seattle’s defense was so dominant, in fact, that after the 49ers first drive, their next four fell to similar demises, as the C.J. Beathard-led group was under heavy duress through each possession.
The results: punt, punt, interception, punt.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the 49ers were only able to accumulate two first downs over those five drives. Beathard was hit seven times by seven different Seahawks as San Francisco’s offensive line regressed to their lackluster protection from Week 9, when Beathard was sacked five times and hit 16 times by Arizona.
Beathard acknowledged the struggles he faced trying to say in the pocket but chose not to criticize his teammates:
“You’re always going to take hits as a quarterback, no matter who you play for. They guys did as best as they could do.”
While Beathard was getting his clock cleaned, the 49ers defense was letting Seattle hit their stride as Wilson looked to bounce back from his opening interception.
Giving his best impersonation of a wet bar of soap, Wilson turned into the most elusive human being on the planet as he evaded nearly every would-be tackler dressed in red and gold.
Capitalizing on a Beathard interception thrown in the first half, Wilson took it upon himself to get into the end zone for Seattle, taking the ball himself from two yards out to reach paydirt.
49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan touched on just how tough Wilson was to contain despite his defense’s efforts:
“It seemed like we were around him a lot. That’s what he does very well though, he’s been doing it for a very long time. It does surprise me, I though we would have had more sacks but, from what I saw, I though our defense played very well.”
After two more punts in the first half, the 49ers finally gained some traction as they were able to march 47 yards down field on a seven-play drive to get Robbie Gould into field goal range where he was able to knock down a 38-yarder to narrow to margin to 4 as the 49ers trailed 7-3.
Receiving the ball in the second half, the 49ers scored another field goal to make it a one point game only to surrender 17 points throughout the next 20 minutes and 19 seconds of the second half.
C.J. Beathard would end his fifth start as a 49er with just over one minute remaining in the fourth quarter, completing 57 percent of his passes (22/39) for 178 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. He was also sacked 3 times while being hit an additional 13.
In his place, freshly acquired quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo saw his first snaps under center. The former New England Patriot completed both pass attempts, one for a 10-yard touchdown to Louis Murphy as the game clock wound down.
The 49ers now travel to Chicago to take on the 3-8 Bears. Almost exactly one year ago, San Francisco fell to the hosting Bears 26-6, marking their 11th consecutive loss of the 2016 season.
With Beathard potentially out, 49ers fans may see Garoppolo as a starter for the first time, making the Week 12 matchup one of the most compelling games of the season.
Shanahan chose not to state who he would start against Chicago stating that he has to find out the severity of Beathard’s injury before making the call.