3 Takeaways from 49ers' Week 13 Loss

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistDecember 6, 2021

3 Takeaways from 49ers' Week 13 Loss

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    John Froschauer/Associated Press

    The San Francisco 49ers' quest for a playoff berth took a huge detour Sunday. Facing a Seattle Seahawks team that had lost three straight, the 49ers stumbled. To make matters worse, they watched as the Los Angeles Rams and Washington Football Team picked up wins.

    The 49ers would still own the NFC's final wild-card spot if the season ended today, but their margin for error has shrunk significantly.

    On paper, this was a favorable matchup for the Niners. San Francisco was without key players Deebo Samuel (groin) and Dre Greenlaw (groin) but had recently regained their form as a running powerhouse. The Seahawks came in ranked 23rd against the run.

    Familiarity matters, though, and with Russell Wilson another week removed from finger surgery, Seattle got enough offense to outlast San Francisco. The 49ers may now have to win out to ensure a playoff spot, and they are going to have to rebound quickly. They are set to face the Cincinnati Bengals on the road in Week 14.

    Here are our three biggest takeaways from San Francisco's Week 13 loss.

San Francisco Still Can't Get Over the Russell Wilson Hump

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    The 49ers came into Sunday on a three-game winning streak. The Seahawks' previous win came against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 8. This should have been San Francisco's opportunity to finally get one over on Wilson and cement itself as an NFC contender.

    As has usually been the case, though, the 49ers couldn't stop Seattle's future Hall of Fame quarterback. Seattle swept the 49ers for the second consecutive year and has now won 14 of the last 16 regular-season matchups between these two divisional rivals.

    Once again, Wilson was a catalyst for San Francisco's downfall. He looked to be in pre-injury form, finishing 30-of-37 for 231 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He also scrambled three times for 15 yards.

    While Wilson's stats weren't overly impressive on the surface, he kept Seattle's offense humming. Seattle had 21 first downs compared to San Francisco's 17 and held the ball for more than 33 minutes of game time.

    While the 49rs did have a chance to tie the game at the endโ€”and were stopped four times inside Seattle's 10-yard lineโ€”Wilson is largely responsible for putting the 49ers in catch-up mode. There are few certainties in football, but the 49ers struggling against Wilson continues to be one of them.

Deebo Samuel Is the Offensive MVP

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Associated Press

    As previously mentioned, the 49ers were without wideout Deebo Samuelโ€”a player who has already topped 1,000 receiving yards in 2021 and who has become a backfield staple in recent weeks. As tight end George Kittle recently explained, Samuel is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses.

    "When he's in the backfield, you don't really know what we're going to do," Kittle said, per Jacob Hutchinson of KNBR radio. "I think he just adds a dynamic to our offense that you can't really prepare for."

    Without the third-year wideout, San Francisco's offense was far less unpredictable. Yes, the 49ers still had an opportunity to force overtime, but they failed to keep the Seahawks on their heels. San Francisco totaled just 71 rushing yards and converted a mere three of 10 third-down attempts.

    Elijah Mitchell, who rushed for 133 yards in Week 12, had just 66 rushing yards and 3.0 yards per carry Sunday.

    Kittle, who had 181 receiving yards, five rushing yards and two touchdowns, helped keep the offense moving, but Samuel's absence hurt the run game significantly. The 49ers need him back if they are going to make a push over the final five weeks.

Sloppy Football Could Run San Francisco Right Out of the Playoffs

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Even without Samuel and against Wilson, the 49ers could have won Sunday. However, a sloppy and poorly executed performance held them back.

    Without the support of a strong rushing attack, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo struggled. He tossed a pair of interceptions and failed to effectively push the ball downfield. Garoppolo ended San Francisco's final possession with a pair of incomplete passes with goal-to-go. The signal-caller also took a safety in the third quarter.

    Garoppolo wasn't solely responsible for San Francisco's mistakes, though. The special-team unit surrendered a 73-yard rushing score on a fake punt in the first quarter, and the 49ers finished with 10 penalties and 86 penalty yards. The quarterback's mistakes were huge, but this was a bad all-around effort.

    San Francisco cannot afford to play this brand of ball and still emerge with a playoff berth. Tough games remain against Cincinnati, the Tennessee Titans and the Los Angeles Rams. The 49ers won't win any of them if they perform as they did Sunday.