Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports


14 “Grinch-like” observations from the 49ers’ loss in Tennessee

Marc Adams
Dec 24, 2021 at 12:42 PM--


Even before San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo decided to play the part of Santa Claus and bring gifts of great joy to the Tennessee Titans and their fans, I had a bad feeling about this game. I am normally an optimist, but something about this cross-country trip, on a short week, made me uneasy.

I even tweeted as much, saying I was concerned about two things: First, I knew the Titans are really good against the run, and was worried that this game might rest on the right arm of Garoppolo. That turned out to be true, and it didn't go well.

Second, I was concerned about A.J. Brown and Julio Jones returning to the Titans' lineup. Those wide receivers, coupled with the fact that the 49ers secondary has been giving up more fantasy points to receivers than almost every team, made me question if the 49ers would win this game. Jones wasn't a factor, but Brown destroyed the 49ers secondary. Now, I'm not a prophet or anything like that, but I was picking the Titans to win. And then I started listening to 49ers Twitter, and was influenced to pick San Francisco. That was a bad idea.

Regardless, the 49ers lost...and so did I. Today, Garoppolo is Santa in Nashville, and Satan in the Bay Area. And I feel like the Grinch. So here are my 14 observations from last night's brutal loss in Tennessee.

  • Deebo Samuel opened the game with a rushing first down and a receiving first down. He's such a great weapon. Samuel finished the game with nine catches for 159 yards, to go along with 32 yards rushing.


  • The 49ers had a great, tone-setting drive to open the game. It was creative and physical, with a lot of misdirection, roll-outs and play-action. That was as good as it would get.
  • The Titans offense had not crossed mid-field on their own in the first half. Then 49ers punter Mitch Wishnowsky shanked one. Special teams continues to disappoint. Fortunately, the defense stepped up to the challenge and forced a punt (in that situation).
  • Jimmy Garoppolo was brilliant at first. Then he threw an interception in the end zone, then followed that with a huge miss to a wide-open Kyle Juszczyk, and looked like a mess as the second half went on. Fans weren't happy with the quarterback's play. And some in the media weren't happy with his post-game answers.


  • The 49ers dominated the first half, but only led by 10 at halftime. They left at least 14 other points on the field. San Francisco lost by only three points, so the missed opportunities were costly.


  • Garoppolo threw an interception to start the second half. The Titans turned it into a game-tying touchdown.
  • Jauan Jennings makes big catches. But he also drops an easy pass every game.
  • George Kittle only had two catches. He was only targeted three times. Yes, he was double-teamed a lot, but the 49ers have shown the ability to scheme him open.
  • The 49ers defense was dominant in the first half, but tired and lost steam in the second half. The inability to get off the field on 3rd down ultimately took its toll.


  • A concerning trend : The 49ers are 7-0 this season when Garoppolo doesn't throw an interception. But they've only won one game when he throws a pick. Thursday, he threw two. When your team can't overcome mistakes, it's a problem, especially against better teams.
  • Kyle Shanahan's play-calling seems to change when Garoppolo starts turning the ball over. The 49ers offense was creative in the first half, but stale in the second half.
  • Garoppolo did lead the offense on a long drive to tie the game late in the 4th quarter, but just like the Green Bay game, they left too much time on the clock.
  • The 49ers lost the turnover battle 2-0. It's hard to win when you have two more turnovers than your opponent.
  • Meanwhile, 49ers legend, Jerry Rice, has been talking up Trey Lance a lot lately. Not that it means anything. It's just interesting.


The 49ers have some extended time off, and return to the field Sunday, January 2nd as they host the Houston Texans. The 49ers need to win this one to secure a postseason bid. Until then, we'll have to deal with the pain of another loss that should have been a win.
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