San Francisco 49ers Losing Streak Continues as Jimmy Garoppolo Struggles

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Offensive mediocrity has been a recurring theme for the 2021 49ers. The 30-18 Sunday night loss to the Indianapolis Colts continued the trend. In a rainy game that featured just 331 combined passing yards, Jimmy Garoppolo’s two fourth-quarter interceptions sealed a fourth consecutive defeat for San Francisco. Garoppolo finished with 16 completions on 27 attempts, 181 yards, and a minuscule 7.8 QBR. The constant showers proved to overwhelm Garoppolo more so than his counterpart, Carson Wentz, whose re-emergence as a franchise quarterback continued into Sunday. Wentz was also sporadic in the rain but managed to throw and run for the game’s decisive touchdowns.  The loss drops the Niners to last place in the NFC West. 

San Francisco 49ers Losing Streak Unaltered After Rainy Sunday Night Loss

Standout Performances in Defeat

Rookie running back Elijah Mitchell and wide receiver Deebo Samuel were the only reliable contributors on the Niners offense. Mitchell notched a career-high 107 yards on 18 carries, including a 14-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Samuel finished with 100 yards on seven catches and hauled in Garoppolo’s only touchdown pass on the evening. 

Once again, the defense turned in a satisfactory outing and kept the game competitive through the first three quarters. Yet, they eventually succumbed to short fields from offensive turnovers and constant penalties. The Colts scoring drives were marked with defensive pass interference calls that amounted to significant yardage. The 49ers committed seven penalties for a staggering 122 yards.

49ers Losing Streak Loses Team Ground in NFC

The quarterback position continues to be the weakest link on an otherwise serviceable roster. Trey Lance’s spotty play in his taste of extended action may have quieted those calling for Garoppolo’s benching, but it did not change their negative assessment of his ability. His performance Sunday leaves little but discouragement now that Lance starting has proven unfeasible.

An inability to compete with a Colts team that is currently outside contention itself is troubling this late in the season. The turbulent Jimmy Garoppolo era in San Francisco is unquestionably waning. His ousting now seems like a matter of if, not when. Should the tailspin continue and the team faces an early elimination, Lance may usurp Garoppolo in pursuit of experience rather than excellence.

Garoppolo has thrown just six touchdown passes on the year and doubled his season interception total to four with the two late picks. Of course, it’s not unheard-of for below-average quarterbacks to ride great rosters to playoff runs. But this iteration of the defense, special teams, running game, and receiving corps seems merely good. 

San Francisco’s two-game break from cutthroat division matchups opens with a discouraging defeat against the 3-4 Colts. The Chicago Bears figure to be a more manageable matchup next week as the Niners will look to avoid going winless in October. Then the reality of the NFC West sets back in. A rematch against the still-undefeated Cardinals awaits one week later, with the 5-1 Rams waiting after. Neither team shows any signs of slowing down. The Seahawks are currently treading water while Russell Wilson recovers from a broken finger. The Niners have no such critical injury at the quarterback position, but sit alongside Seattle at 2-4 just the same.

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