Santa Clara, CA – Another year, another new coach and another loss. It wasn’t the start anyone expected, the preseason looked promising. But the lack luster performance by Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers sends the Forty-Niners back to the drawing board.
The Panthers 23-3 win over San Francisco spoiled the home opener. Brian Hoyer was 24 of 35 for 193 yards. The 49ers offense broke down and never recovered. And to make matters worse rookie LB Reuben Foster sustained an injury.
“I think anytime you those two turnovers, especially, when we had some opportunities early and didn’t come down with it,” said head coach Kyle Shanahan. “We had a couple opportunities. We had that deep ball that we just missed on third down. I think that was our opening drive.”
Shanahan is referring to opening drive when Hoyer came up short on the passing game that forced San Francisco to punt. Their next series Hoyer was sacked and fumbled the ball. It took two plays before Carolina scored their first touchdown.
Newton made a short pass to former Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey for 3 yards. McCaffrey then rushed for another 5 yards before Newton threw a 40 yard pass to Russell Shepard for the touchdown. McCaffrey was the Panthers eighth overall pick in the 2017 draft.
“It’s going well. We’re always learning,” McCaffrey said when asked about playing with Newton. “He’s a guy who’s always in his playbook and the film. Anytime he talks, I’m all ears.”
During that same series, the 49ers lost Foster and he did not return. It looked like he feel awkwardly on his knee and was carted off the field. But the X-rays came back negative showing no fracture to his leg or ankle (which had been downgraded). Foster limped back to the sidelines later without any help from crushes or the medical staff.
“I felt great,” said Foster. “It’s sad that I had a nick in the ankle. That was disappointing. Overall I think the defense when we came out, we had the right mindset.”
Foster tells no lie, San Francisco’s defense allowed only two touchdowns and looked good. The Panther’s offense struggled immensely. It was the 49ers turnovers that gave Carolina the advantage.
After Hoyer’s fumble, Newton found a wide open receiver, Russell Shepard who shook off one defender for the 40-yard touchdown. San Francisco didn’t allow another touchdown in the first half but Graham Cano kicked two field goals for 39 and 36 yards giving the Panther a 13-0 lead to end the half.
Newton went 14 for 25 for 171 yards including one touchdown and one interception. With less than a minute left in the half, Newton overthrew an open receiver in the end zone to accent the Panthers subpar performance. Then Newton threw an interception trying to go deep.
Jaquiski Tartt gave Carolina a first down after being called for unnecessary roughness call. On the next play, Newton went deep to Kelvin Benjamin who was covered closely by Tartt and Dontae Johnson. Tartt made a one-hand leaping catch to intercept the ball and rushed for 38 yards. But but the 49ers could not capitalize of the turnover. In fact, despite going for it on 4th down twice, San Francisco failed each time.
“Anytime you lose and lose that way, it’s frustrating and disappointing,” said Shanahan. “I’ll feel that all day today and all night and I’m sure our players will too. We’ve got to watch the tape tomorrow morning and figure out a way to get better.”
Hoyer’s second turnover came at the start of the third quarter. His pass was intended for George Kittle, but Luke Kuechly made the interception. In 5 plays, 28 yards in 3 minutes, Newton’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Jonathan Stewart extended the Panthers lead 20-0.
Gano followed with his third filed goal for 20-yards. The 49ers then scored for the first time with a 44-yard field goal from Robbie Gould in the fourth. The offense stunk today, Hoyer was sacked four times before the half ended. They have one week to figure it out before heading to Seattle next week.
“We knew it was going to be a tough challenge for us,” Hoyer said. “We’ll go back, watch it and get as much corrected as we can and get ready to go towards Seattle.”
Mahomes, Chiefs rally late to win Super Bowl LIV
Miami – Three late touchdowns in the fourth quarter by the Kansas City Chiefs stunned the Forty-Niners in what was the best comeback victory in Super Bowl history. The 49ers defense smothered the Chiefs offense in the third quarter, shut down in the fourth San Francisco appeared to have celebrated too soon.
Crucial mistakes this time proved costly as the 49ers suffered a tough 31-20 loss to Kansas City who are now the Super Bowl Champs for the first time in 50 years. Patrick Mahomes was named the MVP after leading his team to victory.
“I just tried to fight, and obviously the third quarter didn’t go the way I wanted it to,” said Maohmes. “I tried to force some things and had some turnovers. I mean, that’s a really good defense, and so I didn’t play to my liking in that third quarter, but guys believed in me and gave me confidence. We kept fighting and we found ways to win it in the end.”
San Francisco had a good lead to start the second half. But the Chiefs are known for their epic comebacks late in the game. With 6:30 left on the clock, a pass interference called on Tarvarius Moore came after Mahomes went deep to Travis Kelce on a 43 yards pass.
That setup Kelce’s 1-yard touchdown making it a 20-17 game. Unable to score on the next drive, Kansas City scored their second touchdown, Mahomes connected with Damien Williams for a 5-yard touchdown, that play gave the Chiefs their first lead of the night. At the two-minute warning the 49ers had a chance to turn things around, but three incomplete passes followed with a sack on Jimmy Garoppolo on 4th down.
Kansas City got the ball back, Williams rushed for 4 yards before Kyle Shanahan took a timeout. Williams then rushed for a 38-yard touchdown to secure the Chiefs win. San Francisco’s offense and defense collapsed in the fourth quarter leaving the team dejected as Kansas City began to celebrate.
“I think the turning point was when we got a turnover and then we didn’t execute on offense and they got the ball right back and drove 87 yards or however how far it was,” TE George Kittle said. “As an offense, we have to end the game right there, and we didn’t.”
Garoppolo threw his second interception to end the game. The 49ers registered two interceptions on the night, with Fred Warner and Moore each but against a dominant Chiefs defense it just wasn’t enough. San Francisco finished the 2019 postseason with 5 interceptions, which is tied for the 4th most in a single postseason in franchise history.
The 49ers seemed to have everything under control until the six-minute mark in the fourth quarter. Both teams scored and kicked a field goal to end the half tied at 10-10. After Samuel rushed for 32 yards, Robbie Gould kicked a 38-yard field goal for a quick 3-0 lead.
Mahomes scrambled for 2 yards in the red zone, then rushed in for a 1-yard touchdown making it a 7-3 game. By the second, Garoppolo’s pass intended for Samuel was intercepted by Bashaud Breeland. That setup Harrison Butker’s 31-yard field goal to extend the Chiefs lead to 10-3.
Garoppolo then connected with Samuel for 16 yards before San Francisco went to the running game, Raheem Mostert rushed for 11 yards and Tevin Coleman rushed for 17 yards. Garoppolo found a wide-open Kyle Juszczyk who rushed into the end zone for 15-yard touchdown to tie the game 10-10.
To start the third Gould kicked a 42-yard field goal giving the 49ers a 13-10 lead. After Mahomes pass was blocked by Nick Bosa, who almost forced a fumble, Mahomes went deep to Tyreek Hill but his pass was intercepted by Warner. That setup Mostert’s 1-yard touchdown extending their lead 20-10. San Francisco did not score again after that play.
“It definitely hurts, FB Juszczyk said. “At the end of the day, that’s exactly the position we wanted to be in. So, I think that makes it hurt a little bit more, but you couldn’t have asked to be in a better situation.”
Before the game, there was an emotional tribute to Kobe Bryant and those who lost their lives in the helicopter crash last Sunday. Both NFL teams lined up on the 24 yard line to honor all nine victims killed in that crash that included NBA great Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant. The NFL also honored their own, Hall of Famer Chris Dolan who lost his battle with Cancer.
The NFL then honored 100 years in football with the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game along with defense, offense, coaches, dynasty teams and those who you might not remember but made an impact as well.
The 49ers are headed to the Super Bowl after dominating the Packers 37-20
Santa Clara – The 49ers have punched their ticket to the Super Bowl. After a dominating first half, it was clear only one team showed up to play. Raheem Mostert scored four touchdowns, San Francisco’s defense forced three turnovers and Richard Sherman’s interception in the final minutes was the icing on the cake. The running game was unstoppable and the reward, a trip to Miami for Super Bowl Fifty-Four.
“Still surreal. You know, I just — I can’t believe that I’m in this position right now and I did the things that I did tonight,” said Mostert. “And I would like to thank God first and foremost for blessing not only myself but everybody in the organization to be in the position that we’re in, to get the win and to move on to Miami, my home state. And I can’t believe it. I’m still being able to play at my home state. This is so surreal right now.”
The 49ers 37-20 victory over the Green Bay Packers was well deserved. A phenomenal season where the team went undefeated through eight games before they recorded their first lost to the Seattle Seahawks. Now, they return to the Super Bowl after a rebuilding period during the Jim Harbaugh years. Harbaugh took San Francisco to the Super Bowl back in 2012 where he lost 34-31 to his brother John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens.
“This is like everybody coming to work,” T Joe Staley said. “The attitude that everybody has every single day. There are no egos. Everybody generally pulls for each other. No one cares about what credit that they get. [49ers QB] Jimmy [Garoppolo] doesn’t care if he throws for 300 yards or what did he pass today for 50-60? He doesn’t care and same with the running backs. [49ers TE George] Kittle is a superstar and he could care less about his stats. Top to bottom everybody just wants to pull for each other and win. It is just a special bunch.”
A special bunch indeed, the chemistry on this team began in preseason and became stronger with each game. Almost every game, the team gave it their all. Tonight, the offense rushed for 285 yards and 4 touchdowns on 42 attempts. The team’s 285 total rushing yards were the second most in postseason franchise history, and the 6th most by any team in the postseason since 1970.
Mostert finished with 29 carries for 220 yards and 4 touchdowns, marking the first postseason rushing touchdowns of his career. Mostert 220 rushing yards, set a franchise record for most rushing yards in a game, regular season or postseason. HIs 220 rushing yards are the 2nd most in a postseason game in the Super Bowl era [LA Rams running back Eric Dickerson – 248 yards vs Dallas Cowboys (1/4/86 – NFC Divisional game)] and his 4 rushing touchdown are tied for 2nd most in a Super Bowl era.
“The lanes that we saw and the way he was running, just wanted to keep feeding him,” said head coach Kyle Shanahan. Raheem is not someone who is going to come up and tell me a bunch during the game. I know he was feeling it and it wasn’t too hard to see.”
The 49ers got off to a rocky start after going with their running game on opening drive. Tevin Coleman had 5 attempts for 17 yards but the Packers forced them to punt. On the next drive, the 49ers went with their passing game before Jimmy Garoppolo handed off a pass to Mostert for a 36-yard touchdown. Green Bay’s offense completely collapsed in the first, Nick Bosa recorded the first sack on Aaron Rodgers.
“Not getting that first third down didn’t quite help for sure,” Rodgers said. “We just weren’t very consistent in the first half. I made a couple of mistakes, personally, that hurt us. We kind of let it get away from us.”
[On the botched snap] “It didn’t help. We could’ve cut that to two scores there at a minimum. It was like the fourth down snap the first time we played them. It was a big turning point.”
DeForest Buckner recovered Rodgers fumble and that led to Robbie Gould’s second field goal making it a 20-0 game to start the second quarter. Another turnover proved costly for Green Bay. Rodgers pass was intended for Geronimo Allison, but Emmanuel Mosley intercepted the ball. With 50 seconds left on the clock, Mostert rushed for an 18-yard touchdown to end the half with the 49ers leading 27-0.
By the third, the Packers came alive with Rodgers connecting with Aaron Jones for a 9-yard touchdown. Jones also rushed up the middle for a 1-yard touchdown giving Green Bay another scored run. Rodgers then went deep in the fourth to Jimmy Graham for a 43-yard touchdown making it a 34-20 game. But Green Bay couldn’t stop Mostert’s fourth touchdown that extended San Francisco’s lead 34-7. And Gould’s 42-yard field goal was the final score to cap off an outstanding victory.
“I think you go back to OTAs, man,” Said Buckner. We all knew we could be a special group, a special team this year. And just seeing the guys work, work through a lot of things from OTAs, to training camp and preseason. The guys just fed off of each other, you know what I mean? Offense, defense special teams, everybody. We’ve got a lot of selfless guys playing for each other. That’s the key ingredient being able to play for your brother next to you, no matter what happens. Doesn’t matter who gets the stats or anything. We’re just trying to go out there and win football games and I think we have a really special group.”
“Yeah, I mean we keep it fun,” Sherman said. “We keep it loose. There were a few people that came in our locker room for the first time throughout the week and they were like, ‘Man, this is the loosest locker room.’ You would think this is a winning team. But, that’s the difference. That’s the difference when you’re confident, when you know what you’re playing for, when you know what you’re doing, when you’re locked in.
You don’t have to sit there serious and worry and sit there with anxiety. You can enjoy, let your hair down because you know you’re putting the work in. You put the work in every single day and you’re prepared. Now, when you’re not prepared and you’re nervous, you sit there locked in, quiet. No music in the locker room. Let’s be locked in. But, that’s not our team. We have a bunch of guys who enjoy this game and play it in a way that brings us a lot of joy, the receiving corps especially. They’re a fun group and they’re enjoying the ride, but they’re still locked in. They’re making huge plays.”
Super Bowl LIV is set for February 2, 2020 at 3:30 pm PST at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
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