Here’s how the 49ers (5-9) ranked in Sunday’s loss 41-33 to host The Dallas Cowboys (5-9):
Passing violation: F
Nick Mullins’ three turnovers pushed his season gross to 16 – and the three 49-player QBs have scored 40 appearances in 30 games since last year. A pair of fourth-quarter interceptions proved more expensive than a first-quarter Molins’ ribbon bag tripping. With all the ugly midfielder of the season by Mullins and Jimmy Garoppolo, Brandon Ayuk has emerged as a bona fide superstar and is only 194 yards off Jerry Rice’s rising 49th record (927 yards). Bear in mind how much the 49ers miss George Keitel and Dibo Samuel. Coach Kyle Shanahan said Sunday’s result will not affect whether Kettle or Garoppolo return those last two games, but that a return certainly appears unlikely.
Operating attack: b
I commend Rahim Mostert and Jeff Wilson for playing as much as possible due to injury. Mostert ran a minimum of 8 yards on 6 out of 14 carriers (68 yards) before leaving early in the third quarter due to an ankle injury. Wilson sustained an ankle injury (16 pregnant, 60 yards) but also appeared to have modified his hamstrings in the final seconds. These health issues may prompt the 49 players to rely on Tiffin Coleman and Jerry McKinnon to close the season. Mike McGlinchey played with a knee injury, but some blocking issues only add to the rage during his season.
Traffic defense: b
The bags of Arik Armsted and Ahkello Witherspoon’s sudden start (instead of ailing Jason Ferrett) were highlights. Richard Sherman’s missed tackles were a highlight, along with the defense’s inability to intercept any of Andy Dalton’s 33 assists. Marcel Harris’ cover slip after Jimmy Ward’s concussion wasn’t a surprise.
Operating Defense: B-
The 49 players did not have to face Ezekiel Elliott (inactive surprise) but did run into problems on occasion against his replacement, Tony Pollard, who proved his 40-yard career winning points. Fred Warner’s five tackles put his team ahead at 101 this season. Warner summed things up appropriately and held accountable: “We could talk all day about the foul in the center of the ball, but at the same time, we didn’t help get the ball back to them.… You can’t point the finger in a year like this. Obviously, we can’t. We get better only from here. ”
Special teams: Dr.
The loss blew off the luster of the two field goals for Robbie Gold that had propelled his career to 400. Richie James’s tricky return from a penalty kick cast a premature death spell for 49 players, and CeeDee Lamb’s return for the sidecar kick for the touchdown smeared that unit play.
Kyle Shanahan defended his decision not to sit on the bench Mullins’ after the first objection because the score was tied at 17, but seemed to delay the inevitable meltdown that 49 players have suffered so much this season. 49 players have used 80 players this season, a team record and two shy of 2019 number Miami Dolphins for NFL highs in a non-strike season. It is true that the 49 players have been 0-3 since their exit from Santa Clara County, but they lost 6 out of 7 to reflect the tumultuous times of a fault-prone roster devastated by injuries. It’s pretty cool until week 15 (and Arizona wins the next day) to shake off the 49ers.