49ers in danger of setting franchise record for losses
SANTA CLARA, California — About the only thing left to determine for the San Francisco 49ers will be if 2016 will go down as the worst season ever in franchise history.
After losing a record 13th straight game on Sunday in Atlanta, the 49ers (1-13) must win their last two games to avoid matching, or breaking, the team record for losses in a season.
San Francisco can equal the single-season loss record reached in 1978, 1979 and 2004 by losing at the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday. With a loss in that game, the 49ers can set the record with a loss in the season finale at home on Jan. 1.
“I don’t think it’s the time right now where we sit down and look at it and say, ‘All right. Let’s evaluate from a 50,000 foot above, take a look at the entire season,'” coach Chip Kelly said Monday. “We’ll have time to do that once the season’s ended. Right now, we’re just really on a week-to-week deal.”
Kelly said the approach right now is the same as it is every week: Evaluate the previous game, make the necessary corrections and move on to the next opponent.
There is plenty to fix from the latest loss, a 41-13 defeat that was the second-most lopsided of the season for San Francisco. The Niners fell behind 21-0 in the first quarter, were held scoreless in the second half for a third straight game and allowed 550 yards to the Falcons.
“It can get difficult for them,” Kelly said of his players. “They’re human. Everybody can kind of, when you start to look at it and say, ‘Hey, it’s not going the way we want to get it going.’ But, the one thing I don’t think they do, I don’t think they blame others. I think they take responsibility. Everybody does. We’re not looking to blame people. We’re looking to try and find solutions in terms of moving forward to rectify the situation.”
The Niners were once again hampered by injuries. One week after losing receiver Torrey Smith to a concussion and tight end Vance McDonald and center Daniel Kilgore to season-ending injuries, San Francisco lost several more players.
Receiver Quinton Patton (foot), linebacker Nick Bellore (elbow) and tight end Blake Bell (shoulder) all left the game with injuries and will not return this season. Defensive back Jimmie Ward (shoulder), center Marcus Martin (ankle) and defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey (undisclosed) also were hurt in the game and their status is unknown.
They join players like left tackle Joe Staley, who has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury, and inside linebackers NaVorro Bowman (Achilles tendon) and Ray-Ray Armstrong (chest), who were lost for the season early in the year.
Making matters even worse, inside linebacker Gerald Hodges was suspended for the game for violating team rules, forcing safeties Vinnie Sunseri and Antoine Bethea and outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks into inside roles.
“Part of being really good in this league is staying healthy and when you can stay healthy and you’re playing with your front-line guys then you’ve got a shot,” Kelly said. “If not, everybody, no matter where you are, I don’t think there’s a team in the league right now that says, ‘Hey we’re good. We haven’t sustained any injuries.’ Everybody’s sustained something to some extent. You just have to be able to deal with them.”