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The San Francisco 49ers had not lost five straight games since 2010 when the then-Mike Singletary led squad opened the season 0-5. The Buffalo Bills had not won four straight since 2008. Unfortunately for San Francisco, the Bills turned that around on Sunday, coming away with a 45-16 victory over the 49ers. While the 49ers offense was more effective at moving the football – at least in the first half – the defense did not show up as their season-long struggles continue.
49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has been at the center of controversy because of his stance and protest during the national anthem, made his first start since November 1, 2015. Prior to the 49ers' opening possession, Kaepernick trotted out onto the field to the boos of the crowd at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York.
The 49ers' opening drive stalled at the Buffalo 40-yard line, but on the ensuing drive by Buffalo, pressure from the San Francisco defense, specifically DE Arik Armstead, caused Bills QB Tyrod Taylor to fumble the football. It was recovered by rookie DE DeForest Buckner. The two are a tandem that the 49ers hope will anchor the defensive line for years to come. The 49ers were the first on the scoreboard when K Phil Dawson connected on a 33-yard field goal to give San Francisco the early 3-point lead.
The Bills answered with an impressive 75-yard drive that ended with a 4-yard touchdown run by RB LeSean McCoy. Our own Al Sacco called the 11-play drive "methodical." That didn't phase Kaepernick, who took the ball and led the 49ers offense on their own 75-yard drive that took just 4 plays. Torrey Smith, who has been frustrated with his inability to contribute in the passing game, caught the scoring pass from Kaepernick and sped downfield for the 53-yard touchdown. The score was Kaepernick's first touchdown pass since October 18, 2015.
The 49ers' 10-7 lead didn't last long. McCoy, who the 49ers could not stop, easily scampered into the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown drive. He had 50 yards on two carries during the Bills' 75-yard drive. With the Bills leading 14-10, the 49ers got within one following another Dawson field goal. It was the third straight scoring possession by the 49ers.
So far I'm very encouraged by what I've seen on offense, and very worried about what I've seen on defense. #49ers— Al Sacco (@AlSacco49) October 16, 2016
Following a back-and-forth first half, neither team would score again until late in the third quarter when Taylor would complete a 30-yard touchdown pass to WR Justin Hunter to give the Bills a 24-13 lead with just over 2 minutes remaining in the quarter.
The 49ers added a field goal to cut the Bills' lead to 8, but two fourth quarter scores would extend the Buffalo lead to 38-16. The first score was on an 18-yard run by McCoy and the second came on a touchdown reception by WR Robert Woods.
|Week||Running Back||Rush Yds||TDs|
|1||Todd Gurley, LA||47||0|
|2||Fozzy Whittaker, CAR||100||0|
|3||Christine Michael, SEA||108||2|
|4||Ezekiel Elliott, DAL||138||1|
|5||David Johnson, ARI||157||2|
|6||LeSean McCoy, BUF||140||3|
With about 7 minutes left in the fourth quarter and with a 49ers comeback well out of reach, Bills backup quarterback EJ Manuel, along with a number of other reserves, entered the game. The result was more of the same against the 49ers poor run defense. Bills RB Mike Gillislee pulled off an easy 44-yard touchdown run to give Buffalo a 45-16 lead. That's how the game ended as the Bills outscored the 49ers 28-3 in the second half and scored 21 in the fourth quarter alone.
|Penalties (Yds)||6 (52)||7 (71)|
|Punts (AVG)||5 (35)||3 (40)|
|Time of Pos.||24:50||34:39|
The 49ers defense has allowed a 100-yard rusher in each of their five-straight losses. During this blowout loss against the Bills, the 49ers defense gave up 140 rushing yards and three touchdowns to Buffalo running back McCoy. The 49ers defense gave up 312 yards on the ground to the Bills. Taylor, the Bills' starting quarterback, ended the game 17 of 26 for 179 yards passing and two touchdowns. Buffalo's 45 points were the most by the Bills since scoring 49 in a 2010 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
|49ers Team Leaders|
CB Rashard Robinson left the game in the third quarter with a concussion. He will enter the league's concussion protocol this week.
RB Carlos Hyde left the game in the third quarter with a possible shoulder injury. He was reportedly questionable to return, but did re-enter the game shortly following the injury.
Notes and Quotes
"I thought he was ok," head coach Chip Kelly said of Colin Kaepernick. "There are some positives that you can really build with him that I thought he did. I thought he extended some drives keeping plays alive with his legs."
"I think we need to run the ball as a group better," Kelly said.
"For his first game back, I think he did an OK job," Kelly said of Kaepernick. He didn't have an answer for the 49ers' continued woes against the run and said that they would have to review the game. "We didn't tackle well," Kelly said.
"I think we've got to do a better job as coaches to put our guys in position to make plays," Kelly said regarding the 49ers' poor run defense.
Kelly reiterated that Kaepernick's contract had nothing to do with the decision to start him against the Bills.
"I was very excited, very happy to be out there," said Kaepernick following the loss.
"I don't understand what's un-American about fighting for liberty and justice for everybody," said Kaepernick.
"It is embarrassing to have the ball run on you like that when you know they're going to run the ball," said S Eric Reid.
The 49ers' 16 points were their fewest scored of the season.
The 49ers have allowed an average of 430.8 total yards during their five-game losing streak.
The 49ers have allowed 1,046 rushing yards to opponents through six games. They are on pace to allow 2,789.
Our own Al Sacco was at New Era Field to cover the game. Below are some postgame videos from the game.