3 Takeaways from 49ers' Week 7 Loss
At a rain-soaked Levi's Stadium on Sunday night, the San Francisco 49ers' recent struggles continued. And while they mostly played a competitive game, they again ended up on the wrong end of it.
The 49ers fell 30-18 to the Indianapolis Colts, dropping their fourth straight game since opening the season 2-0. San Francisco was coming off its bye week, but that didn't help it correct its issues. Instead, it couldn't complete a comeback after cutting its deficit to two points early in the fourth quarter.
The Colts' lead was trimmed to 20-18 when 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Deebo Samuel with 13 minutes to go. However, San Francisco's two-point conversion attempt failed, and Indianapolis scored 10 points in the final seven minutes to seal it.
Here are three takeaways from the 49ers' Week 7 loss.
Mistakes Prove Costly, Especially Late in Game
It can be tough to avoid some mistakes in poor weather conditions. That contributed to several of the 49ers' errors, including their four turnovers. However, there were also mistakes they made that could have been avoided.
For example, San Francisco committed seven penalties for a total of 122 yards. It also struggled to convert its third-down opportunities on offense, going 1-of-11. Garoppolo also threw two interceptions and lost a fumble, while Samuel had a lost fumble too.
"It's tough playing in that weather to begin with, just the mental toughness you have to have," Garoppolo said, per Josh Dubow of the Associated Press. "But then when things are going wrong like that, it makes for a tough night."
It didn't help that both of Garoppolo's interceptions came in the final 5:26. The 49ers trailed by five points when he was picked off the first time, and then the second time came with two minutes remaining, helping the Colts put the game away.
In order to produce better offensive results moving forward, San Francisco is going to have to limit these types of mistakes. Otherwise, more tough days could be ahead.
Mitchell Remains Best Option out of Backfield
Elijah Mitchell had an impressive NFL debut when he ran for 104 yards and a touchdown in the 49ers' season-opening win over the Detroit Lions. He then couldn't replicate that production over the next four weeks, a stretch that included him missing two games due to a right shoulder injury.
But the 23-year-old Mitchell excelled again on Sunday night, especially early. On San Francisco's opening drive, he had 57 yards on five carries, which included a 14-yard touchdown run that gave the 49ers a quick 7-0 lead. He went on to finish with 18 carries for a season-high 107 yards, while no other San Francisco player had more than three rushing attempts.
It's clear Mitchell is the 49ers' best option at running back with Raheem Mostert out for the season and Jeff Wilson Jr. still injured. In fact, San Francisco may want to give Mitchell even more touches with how effective he's been when healthy.
Mitchell should continue to be a key part of the 49ers offense, and if he gets a hot hand again (like he did in Sunday's first quarter), it may be beneficial for them to keep feeding him the ball and then ride the rookie's momentum.
49ers Need to Get on Track Soon to Stay in Playoff Race
When this season started, it seemed the 49ers were poised for a bounce-back season. After going 6-10 and missing the playoffs in 2020, they opened 2021 with a pair of road wins over the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles.
San Francisco hasn't won since while going through a challenging stretch that featured matchups against the Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals prior to Sunday's game vs. Indianapolis.
"The NFL is a crazy thing. One week, you're on top. One week, you're at the bottom of it," Garoppolo said, per Dubow. "Every team has its ups and downs. We're at the lower point right now. But we can fight back."
However, it could be difficult for San Francisco to do so. It has a winnable game in Week 8, when it goes on the road to face the 3-4 Chicago Bears. But then the 49ers will have a pair of challenging NFC West matchups at home against the Arizona Cardinals (7-0) and Los Angeles Rams (6-1) the following two weeks.
Those games will be opportunities for San Francisco to get its season back on track, especially because it could make up ground by upsetting its division rivals. But if its struggles continue, it could quickly fall completely out of the playoff hunt.