Floun­der­ing 49ers flirt­ing with all-time fu­til­ity mark

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in Santa Clara, Cal­i­for­nia

About the only thing left to de­ter­mine for the San Fran­cisco 49ers is if 2016 will go down as the worst sea­son in fran­chise his­tory.

Af­ter los­ing a record 13th straight game on Sun­day in At­lanta, the 49ers (1-13) must win their last two games to avoid match­ing, or break­ing, the team record for losses in a sea­son.

San Fran­cisco can equal the sin­gle-sea­son loss record reached in 1978, 1979 and 2004 by los­ing at the Los An­ge­les Rams on Satur­day.

With a loss in that game, the 49ers can set the record with a loss in their sea­son fi­nale, at home on Jan 1.

“I don’t think it’s the time right now where we sit down and look at it and say, ‘All right, let’s eval­u­ate the en­tire sea­son,’ ” coach Chip Kelly said on Mon­day.

“We’ll have time to do that once the sea­son is fin­ished. Right now, we’re just re­ally on a week-to-week deal.”

Kelly said the ap­proach right now is the same as it is ev­ery week: Eval­u­ate the pre­vi­ous game, make the nec­es­sary cor­rec­tions and move on to the next op­po­nent.

There is plenty to fix from the lat­est loss, a 41-13 pound­ing that was the sec­ond­most lop­sided of the sea­son for San Fran­cisco.

The Nin­ers fell be­hind 21-0 in the first quar­ter, were held score­less in the sec­ond half for a third straight game and gave up 550 yards to the Fal­cons.

“It can get dif­fi­cult for them,” Kelly said of his play­ers.

“They’re hu­man. Ev­ery­body can kind of say, ‘Hey, it’s not go­ing the way we want to get it go­ing.’ But, the one thing I don’t think they do, I don’t think they blame oth­ers. I think they take re­spon- sibil­ity. Ev­ery­body does. We’re not look­ing to blame peo­ple; we’re look­ing to try to find so­lu­tions in terms of mov­ing for­ward to rec­tify the sit­u­a­tion.”

The Nin­ers were once again ham­pered by in­juries.

One week af­ter los­ing re­ceiver Tor­rey Smith to a con­cus­sion and tight end Vance McDon­ald and cen­ter Daniel Kil­gore to sea­so­nend­ing in­juries, San Fran­cisco lost sev­eral more play­ers.

Re­ceiver Quin­ton Pat­ton (foot), linebacker Nick Bel­lore (el­bow) and tight end Blake Bell (shoul­der) all left the At­lanta game with in­juries and will not re­turn this sea­son. De­fen­sive back Jim­mie Ward (shoul­der), cen­ter Mar­cus Martin (an­kle) and de­fen­sive line­man Glenn Dorsey (undis­closed) also were hurt.

They join play­ers like left tackle Joe Sta­ley, who has missed the past two games with a ham­string in­jury, and in­side lineback­ers NaVorro Bow­man (Achilles ten­don) and Ray Arm­strong (chest), who were lost for the sea­son early in the year.

Mak­ing mat­ters worse, in­side linebacker Ger­ald Hodges was sus­pended for the game for vi­o­lat­ing team rules, forc­ing safeties Vin­nie Sun­seri and Antoine Bethea and out­side linebacker Ah­mad Brooks into in­side roles.

“Part of be­ing re­ally good in this league is stay­ing healthy, and when you can stay healthy and you’re play­ing with your front-line guys then you’ve got a shot,” Kelly said.

“If not, ev­ery­body, no mat­ter where you are, I don’t think there’s a team in the league right now that says, ‘Hey we’re good. We haven’t sus­tained any in­juries.’

“Ev­ery­body’s sus­tained some­thing to some ex­tent. You just have to be able to deal with them.”

KEVIN C. COX / GETTY IMAGES / AFP

Head coach Chip Kelly of the San Fran­cisco 49ers looks on dur­ing the first half of Sun­day’s 41-13 loss to the At­lanta Fal­cons at the Ge­or­gia Dome.

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