SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — A game that started with three straight scoring drives in the first quarter ended with a couple of interceptions by Jimmy Garoppolo.
Now the question is where do the San Francisco 49ers head from here following a fourth straight loss?
After starting the season with back-to-back road wins that gave them aspirations as a contender, the Niners (2-4) haven't won since.
“The NFL is a crazy thing. One week, you’re on top. One week, you’re at the bottom of it,” Garoppolo said. "Every team has its ups and downs. We’re at the lower point right now. But we can fight back.”
The 49ers are running out of time to do just that as they have struggled to put together a complete performance and fell to 1-7 at Levi's Stadium the past two seasons.
This game started off promising enough with a sharp touchdown drive on the opening possession, followed by a fumble recovery on the first defensive play that helped them jump out to a 9-0 lead.
They added another field goal on the third possession before having four three-and-outs, four turnovers, a stalled end-of-half possession and one TD drive on their next 10 possessions.
Poor weather that featured a driving rain storm all night and poor execution that led to seven penalties for 122 yards doomed San Francisco.
“It’s tough playing in that weather to begin with, just the mental toughness you have to have. But then when things are going wrong like that, it makes for a tough night,” Garoppolo said. “It was very frustrating. We’re going to stick together. We got a team that we do have playmakers, we got players, we got good coaches and we got to stick together at this point.”
Garoppolo went 16 for 27 for 181 yards with a lost fumble and two interceptions in his first game back after missing one contest with a calf injury.
With the Niners reeling, the questions are mounting about when coach Kyle Shanahan will make the move to rookie Trey Lance at quarterback.
San Francisco traded three first-round picks to draft Lance third overall and he started the one game Garoppolo missed but was out this week with a sprained left knee.
Shanahan would only say “I would guess so” when asked about whether Garoppolo would start next week in Chicago.
“I’ve got a whole team to worry about it,” he added. “It’s just not that situation right now. I have to evaluate everything. We have a lot of things to fix.”
The problems in San Francisco are deeper than at quarterback. The defensive backs have been unable to play cleanly most of the season and were called for five more pass interference penalties.
One was wiped out as an offsetting penalty and another was declined when Michael Pittman Jr. still made a 57-yard catch, but the other three infractions led to 97 yards for Indianapolis, setting up two touchdowns.
San Francisco has been called for a league-worst 14 pass interference penalties on the season.
“We’re just not doing it good enough,” Shanahan said. “We’ve been struggling with it all year. Today was the worst.”
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Josh Dubow, The Associated Press