The San Francisco 49ers’ (7-7) disappointing season finale continued last Sunday, with a 17-7, loss to the Seattle Seahawks (10-4). The Seahawks swept the season series against the 49ers, who are now on a three-game losing streak to the Seattle team.
San Francisco has lost five of the last six games to Seattle and now is eliminated from playoff contention. As for the Seahawks, their season continues to get better with the Green Bay Packers (10-4) losing to the Buffalo Bills (8-6) 21-13, and home field advantage still up for grabs.
The 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has zero rushing touchdowns this season. In the previous two seasons he combined for nine rushing touchdowns. Not only are the rushing touchdowns on a downward trend, the passing touchdowns are down from last year. Last year, Kaepernick tossed 21 touchdown passes, compared to this year’s 16 TD passes. Kaepernick will have to move those stats in the remaining two games at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, to match or beat his old numbers.
The first game of the 49ers potentially disappointing season finale is against a hungry San Diego Chargers (8-6) team. A win for the Chargers means, a chance to play for the final wildcard spot, in the last game of the season, against the Kansas City Chiefs (8-6). Next game, the 49ers will face the Arizona Cardinals (11-3), also fighting for home field advantage and playing the Seahawks, in their last game of the season.
Win or lose, play for pride or not, the 49ers are out, looking in. The offseason starts early, currently San Francisco would draft No. 16, and has two guaranteed fourth round draft picks and two seventh round draft picks, accumulated from previous trades.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh, reportedly will be fired at season’s end, there is no telling what the San Francisco team will do after. What is certain, even with down numbers, Kaepernick is signed to a six-year, $114 million contract, with $61 million guaranteed. Kaepernick will be coming back until 2020, into a new system, if Harbaugh is really fired.
Having played in the NFC Championship for three years in a row might not be enough for Harbaugh to stay around. In his press conference after the Seattle loss he said, “The next two games will be played, for each other, team and the honor of the game, as if our lives depend on it.”
Motivation to finish the season with a winning record should add fuel to what has been a 49ers disappointing season finale. With injuries to running backs Frank Gore (concussion) and backup running back Carlos Hyde (ankle), things do not get any easier, having to rely on a third-string running back in Alfonso Smith. Injuries to the 49ers have played a role in this down season, especially to the offensive line. The line has suffered injuries to starters, center Marcus Martin (knee), guard Mike Iupati (elbow), and tackle Anthony Davis (concussion).
Defense has been hit with a list of starters out for Sunday’s game, too. Defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey (forearm), cornerback Chris Culliver (knee), DE Justin Smith (back), and rookie linebacker Chris Borland is out for the remaining two games with his ankle injury. The biggest two names are linebackers Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman, who anchor the 49ers defense, both have been out with leg injuries for weeks.
This will be the first time the 49ers do not make the playoffs since the Jim Harbaugh era started in 2011. The 2014 49ers’ disappointing season finale will also mark the first time Colin Kaepernick does not experience the playoffs in his pro career.
Commentary By Daniel Gudino
Image courtesy of Adam Rifkin – Flickr License