Andrew Nelles / Tennessean.com-USA TODAY NETWORK

Andrew Nelles / Tennessean.com-USA TODAY NETWORK


Recap: Miserable mistakes send 49ers to 20-17 loss to Titans in Nashville

Dec 23, 2021 at 8:16 PM--


1st 2nd 3rd 4th Tot
SF 7 3 0 7 17
TEN 0 0 10 10 20

The 49ers have been quite good at times during the 2021 season, but there have also been moments where they've looked exactly the opposite. Both sides were on full display against the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night, and unfortunately the bad far outweighed the good for the 49ers as they stumbled to a 20-17 loss at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.

A strong start made it seem at first like the 49ers might roll to victory over the injury-depleted Titans, but a series of massive mistakes helped give the Titans the momentum they needed to overcome a 10-0 deficit for the win. A handful of poor throws quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo along with penalties at key times helped turn things in the Titans' favor, while wide receiver A.J. Brown sparked a slumping Titans offense with a big performance (11 catches, 145 yards, one touchdown) in his first game since Week 11 (chest injury).

Garoppolo finished with 306 yards, one touchdown and two interception on 25-of-34 passing, while Ryan Tannehill had 209 yards and one touchdown on 22-of-29 passing for the Titans. Wide receiver Deebo Samuel chipped in eight catches for 143 yards and five carries for 32 yards for the 49ers.

First Half

The 49ers opened the game with possession and stormed down the field with authority, marching 75 yards in nine plays to take a 7-0 lead on a 1-yard touchdown run by running back Jeff Wilson. Wide receiver/running back Deebo Samuel had two receptions for 33 yards and an 8-yard run on the drive, while wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk had two receptions for 21 yards.


The defense kept the momentum going on the next possession, forcing the Titans to punt after six plays following a strong kickoff return from Chester Rogers that started the Titans at their own 39-yard line. The Titans converted a 3rd-and-11 on the third play of the drive to get themselves across the field, but the 49ers drove them backwards on the next play courtesy of a sack by defensive end Samson Ebukam for an 8-yard loss.

The 49ers took over at their own 20-yard line after the punt and once again moved downfield in a hurry due in large part to a 26-yard completion to fullback Kyle Juszczyk that had 15 yards tacked on after a phantom face mask call on cornerback Kristian Fulton. But the drive ended short of a score when Garoppolo was intercepted in the end zone by cornerback Janoris Jenkins.


The 49ers held the Titans to a three-and-out on the next possession, then took over at their own 37 shortly after the start of the second quarter. Garoppolo missed a deep throw early in the possession to a wide open Juszczyk that may have resulted in a touchdown had it connected, but the 49ers kept moving after the miss and proceeded to drive inside the 20-yard line. From there they were driven back on a 3rd-and-11 when left tackle Trent Williams was flagged for a 15-yard face mask penalty, which led to a 48-yard field goal from kicker Robbie Gould to open up a 10-0 lead.

Two punts followed Gould's field goal, with the 49ers' punt being a shank off the foot of Mitch Wishnowsky that gave the Titans possession at the 49ers' 45-yard line with just over three minutes remaining in the half. But the struggles on offense continued for the Titans, who were forced to punt after failing to make a first down following a key holding penalty at the 33-yard line that drove them out of field goal range. The 49ers took over at their own 10-yard line and decided to take a conservative approach and sit on their 10-0 lead into the half.

The half was dominated statistically by the 49ers, who outgained the Titans 191 to 55 with an edge of 14-3 in first downs and a time of possession advantage of 18:22 to 11:38. But they were unable to cash in on every opportunity, which left the score closer at halftime than it could have been.

Second Half

The Titans produced their first scoring drive of the night to open the second half by converting three third-and-long attempts through a 13-play, 55-yard drive to cut the lead to 10-3 on a 38-yard field goal from Randy Bullock. Then they were given a gift on the first play of the ensuing 49ers possession


The 49ers responded with a drive to the Titans' 35-yard line, where they faced a 4th-and-1 with just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter. But they went the other direction when Williams was flagged for a false start, then Garoppolo misfired a pass to wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk on 4th-and-6 to give the ball back to the Titans at their own 40.

It looked at first like the 49ers would get a stop on defense after the turnover on downs, as a holding call drawn by defensive end Nick Bosa and a sack by defensive end Jordan Willis put the Titans in a 3rd-and-23 hole early in the next possession. But The Titans converted when Tannehill found wide receiver A.J. Brown downfield for a 42-yard gain, then they kept the drive going three plays later when Tannehill found Brown on a 12-yard completion on a 3rd-and-10. Tannehill then fired an 18-yard pass to Brown in the end zone, which gave the Titans their first lead of the night at 17-10.


The 49ers took over at their own 25 after the touchdown and immediately got two sparks from Samuel in the form of a 12-yard run and a 19-yard reception to advance the ball past midfield. But a holding call on center Alex Mack and a sack by edge defender Bud Dupree put the 49ers in a 2nd-and-29 hole that they couldn't overcome, and Wishnowsky punted two plays later to give the Titans the ball at their own 3-yard line with 9:31 remaining in the game.

The Titans ran seven plays and over four minutes off the clock on the next possession before a punt that was downed at the 49ers' 5-yard line. The 49ers took over with just over five minutes remaining in the game, then got their biggest play of the game to that point when Samuel caught a pass over the middle on the sixth play of the drive and ran 56 yards to the Titans' 6. Garoppolo found Aiyuk wide open in the end zone two plays later for a game-tying touchdown, capping an eight-play, 95-yard drive.


Just over two minutes were left on the clock when the Titans took over at their own 25-yard line after the touchdown. The Titans moved into field goal range with the help of a 23-yard run from Tannehill to the 49ers' 31-yard line, then they were able to run the clock down to eight seconds to give Bullock an opportunity from 44 yards. Bullock's kick was true, giving the Titans a 20-17 win.


The 49ers fell to 8-7 on the season with the loss, while the Titans improved to 10-5. Next up for the 49ers will be their final home game of the season, which will take place on Sunday, January 2 against the Houston Texans (3-11). The 49ers will then close the regular season in Los Angeles on Sunday, January 9 against the Rams.


SF Team Stats TEN
389 Total Yards 278
306 Passing Yards 188
83 Rushing Yards 90
9.2 Avg Yards per Pass 7
4 Avg Yards per Run 3.8
0 Fumbles Lost 0
2 Int Thrown 0
2 Sacks Allowed 4
30:31 Time of Pos 29:29
5 Penalties 6

49ers Player Stats
Passing Cmp/Att Yds TDs INTs
Jimmy Garoppolo 26/35 322 1 2
Rushing Att Yds Avg TDs
Jeff Wilson 14 45 3.2 1
Deebo Samuel 5 32 6.4 0
JaMycal Hasty 1 3 3 0
Jimmy Garoppolo 1 3 3 0
Receiving Rec Tgt Yds TDs
Deebo Samuel 9 11 159 0
Kyle Juszczyk 3 5 45 0
Brandon Aiyuk 4 5 40 1
JaMycal Hasty 3 3 26 0
George Kittle 2 3 21 0
Jauan Jennings 2 5 19 0
Jeff Wilson 3 3 12 0
Fumbles Fum Lost
Deebo Samuel 2 0
JaMycal Hasty 1 0
Kicking FG Att Lg XP
Robbie Gould 1 1 48 2
Punting No Avg I20 Lg
Mitch Wishnowsky 2 35 1 40
Punt Returns Att Avg TDs Lg
Brandon Aiyuk 1 12 0 12
Defense T-A Sck INTs FF
Jaquiski Tartt 5-1 0 0 0
Fred Warner 5-1 0 0 0
Marcell Harris 4-0 0 0 0
K'Waun Williams 3-1 0 0 0
Samson Ebukam 3-1 1.5 0 0
Jimmie Ward 3-0 0 0 0
D.J. Jones 3-0 0 0 0
Nick Bosa 3-0 0 0 0
Kentavius Street 3-0 1 0 0
Josh Norman 2-2 0 0 0
Arik Armstead 2-1 0 0 0
Jarrod Wilson 2-0 0 0 0
Jordan Willis 2-0 1 0 0
Azeez Al-Shaair 1-5 0.5 0 0
Ambry Thomas 1-0 0 0 0
Trent Sherfield 1-0 0 0 0
Deebo Samuel 1-0 0 0 0
Charles Omenihu 1-0 0 0 0

Titans Player Stats
Passing Cmp/Att Yds TDs INTs
Ryan Tannehill 22/29 209 1 0
A.J. Brown 0/1 0 0 0
Rushing Att Yds Avg TDs
Jeremy McNichols 7 31 4.4 0
Ryan Tannehill 3 22 7.3 0
Dontrell Hilliard 5 20 4 0
D'Onta Foreman 9 17 1.9 1
Receiving Rec Tgt Yds TDs
A.J. Brown 11 16 145 1
Nick Westbrook-Ikhine 2 3 38 0
Anthony Firkser 1 1 13 0
Geoff Swaim 3 3 10 0
Julio Jones 1 1 7 0
Chester Rogers 1 1 3 0
Jeremy McNichols 0 1 0 0
Racey McMath 0 1 0 0
Khari Blasingame 1 1 -1 0
Dontrell Hilliard 2 2 -6 0
Kicking FG Att Lg XP
Randy Bullock 2 2 44 2
Punting No Avg I20 Lg
Brett Kern 5 46 2 59
Kickoff Returns Yds Avg TDs Lg
Chester Rogers 57 28.5 0 37
Defense T-A Sck INTs FF
Rashaan Evans 5-2 0 0 1
Buster Skrine 4-3 0 0 0
Kevin Byard 4-2 0 0 1
Zach Cunningham 4-0 0 0 0
Naquan Jones 3-2 0 0 0
Bud Dupree 3-1 1 0 0
Jayon Brown 2-3 0 0 0
Amani Hooker 2-3 0 1 0
Dane Cruikshank 2-2 0 0 0
Denico Autry 2-1 1 0 0
Jeffery Simmons 2-0 0 0 0
Kyle Peko 2-0 0 0 0
Harold Landry 1-2 0 0 0
Kristian Fulton 1-1 0 0 0
Dylan Cole 1-0 0 0 0


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