So after 13 weeks and 11 consecutive losses it has come to this.
Tied at 17 all, the 49ers win the overtime coin toss and start promisingly, finally connecting on a pass for five yards. Then Hyde, prolific behind the right side of second-year tackle Trent Brown and rookie Joshua Garnett, races near field goal territory for 25 yards to make it 193 on the ground for the day.
The next two plays yield no yards, and on third and ten at the Jets 45, a completion gets eight yards. So with kicker Phil Dawson struggling on one for three field goals on the day, Head Coach Kelly decided to go for it on fourth down instead of trying for a 55 yarder.
Inexplicably, they rush to the left and Hyde is promptly stopped for no gain. The impossible, even for this team, had happened; San Francisco will now lose. The Jets take the ball down the field and for an exclamation point on their comeback win, they score a touchdown when only a field goal was needed.
In attempting to fathom how this happened, let’s go back to early in the fourth quarter. The 49ers led 14-0 after just four minutes and 15 seconds. They were playing the Jets, a team that was humiliated at home by the Colts. A team that had to travel across the country on a short week.
A team that had been accused of quitting on their coach and looked lost after five minutes. They were also a team being led by their third string quarterback! A second-year man only selected in the fourth round.
This makes for a recurring and sickening theme for the 49ers. Last week they lost to the Bears’ third-string quarterback in Matt Barkley. And they didn’t just lose to him – he didn’t complete a pass until the two-minute warning of the first half, and then they made him look like Tom Brady!
At least that was on the road. At least that was in the snow where the Bears wide receivers had a distinct advantage over the 49ers secondary in the slippery conditions.
This week? This week was a new low for the team. It was a new low for Chip Kelly and his belief that time of possession (TOP) makes no difference in the result of a game.
Kelly’s biggest criticisms are his belief that TOP matters not in the result of a game and that he is unable to make the required adjustments to his offensive game plan once the opposition’s defence has adjusted. Both of these criticisms were highlighted in bold, italics and underlined today.
TOP was in favour by a margin of 38 minutes to just 22 at the end of regulation to the Jets. No team’s defence has a chance when that is the case, and it was why the beleaguered Jets offence led by a third-string youngster was able to score on their last four drives.
This is not just the fault of a young defence, the offence is equally to blame. After starting superbly by exploiting the middle of the field for completions, Kaepernick (who was 11 from 15 for 116 yards and a touchdown in the first half) was just two from eight for four yards in the second half. Yes, four yards!
The Jets took away the middle of the field and the 49ers passing game was inept. Kelly had no answers, no game plan. No plan B, C or D. Nothing.
He might well point to the fact that by early in the fourth quarter they had four starters out. The Jets had just as many. He may point to the lack of talent at the WR corps but the only certified talent in Torrey Smith was only targeted early in the fourth quarter.
So the 49ers rolled to their 12th consecutive loss, easily their worst of the year.
49ers management has much to decide upon. It was only a year ago that they fired first-year Coach Jim Tomsula and are eating the rest of his three years and $14 million deal in total.
Can they afford to part ways with Kelly who was signed to a four-year deal worth $24 million?
Can they afford not to, may be the bigger question.