SF 49ers: Playoff hopes on life support after thrashing by Josh Allen, Bills

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) against San Francisco 49ers defensive end Kentavius Street (95) during the second quarter at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Michael Chow-Arizona RepublicNfl Buffalo Bills At San Francisco 49ers
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) against San Francisco 49ers defensive end Kentavius Street (95) during the second quarter at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Michael Chow-Arizona RepublicNfl Buffalo Bills At San Francisco 49ers /

The SF 49ers desperately needed a win over the Bills on Monday Night Football, but the lopsided defeat by Josh Allen and Co. likely ends playoff hopes.

Week 13 was essentially a must-win playoff-type game for the SF 49ers against the “visiting” Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football from State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

After falling 34-24 to Buffalo, the 5-7 Niners have to be thinking more about being spoilers down the stretch and then what to do about a challenging offseason.

Buffalo could have gotten on the board first facing a 4th-and-goal on San Francisco’s 1-yard line, but quarterback Josh Allen‘s pass attempt was overthrown. That led to a 12-play, 99-yard drive from the SF 49ers, who also found themselves facing a 4th-and-goal situation from Buffalo’s 1-yard line.

And the Bills returned the favor, stuffing the Niners’ own fourth-down attempt.

Except Bills running back Zack Moss fumbled the ensuing snap, which was recovered by linebacker Fred Warner, putting San Francisco’s offense right back on the field within the 5-yard line.

Quarterback Nick Mullens then found wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk for the touchdown, putting the SF 49ers up 7-0 in a wild first quarter:


That was Aiyuk’s sixth touchdown grab of the season, which leads all San Francisco pass-catchers on the season.

But Buffalo’s slot receiver, Cole Beasley, answered back on the Bills’ ensuing possession, hauling in a 5-yard touchdown to tie things up at seven apiece. The SF 49ers had trouble with Beasley, allowing him to pick up nine catches for 130 yards in the wake of three starting-caliber cornerbacks, K’Waun Williams, Jamar Taylor and Emmanuel Moseley, being out with injuries.

Niners wide receiver Deebo Samuel, meanwhile, was limited

Buffalo went for it again on 4th-and-1 on its next drive, then got a go-ahead touchdown by tight end Dawson Knox to make it 14-7. And a field goal just before halftime made it 17-7.

San Francisco’s defense had no answers for Allen and Beasley, who combined for seven touches and 113 yards in the first half alone.

Meanwhile, wide receiver Deebo Samuel had only one rush for 3 yards and no receptions over the first two quarters.

SF 49ers defense can’t adjust after halftime

The Niners managed to tack on a field goal on their opening second-half drive to make it 17-10, but a touchdown was a bit more of the must-need variety given how well Buffalo’s offense had played so far.

Into the third quarter, too, as Allen found wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie for the Bills’ third touchdown of the night to go up 24-10.

Nothing was working for San Francisco. When in zone, Allen found the soft spots with ease amid yet more ineffective four-man pass rushes. Blitzing wasn’t working, and man coverage left players like McKenzie getting open behind the SF 49ers defense.

Seriously, no answers.

Aiyuk lost control of a would-be catch on the Niners’ following drive, which led to Mullens’ first interception and Buffalo getting the ball back and returning it into the red zone, ultimately leading to a field goal to make it 27-10. While it was easy to blame San Francisco’s defense for the lack of adjustments during the game, one should also point out the flameout from head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense after the first quarter.

The SF 49ers managed to get on the board, thanks to a 49-yard reception by Aiyuk and then a 6-yard touchdown catch by fullback Kyle Juszczyk, which made it 27-17:


But the Bills answered right back, as Bills wide receiver Gabriel Davis found himself wide open in the end zone for a touchdown after defensive back Tarvarius Moore blew the coverage by not sliding to that side of the line and choosing to face open grass in front of him.

Moore didn’t exactly have himself a great game, and that’s putting it lightly. Meanwhile, Allen went 32-of-40 for 375 yards, four touchdowns, zero interceptions and a passer rating of 139.1, doing his best against whatever kind of defensive looks San Francisco threw at him.

Perhaps the best allegory of the game came with just over seven minutes left in the fourth quarter. Mullens appeared to hit wide receiver Kendrick Bourne for a touchdown, but the play review stated Bourne was mere inches short of crossing the plane. Mullens then was flagged for a false start on a QB sneak the following play before tossing an interception at the goal line picked off by Bills defensive back Tre’Davious White.

That’s how it went.

dark. Next. 49ers' 7-round non-quarterback mock NFL Draft

In the wake of the loss, particularly when the Chicago Bears, Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks all lost, the Niners’ own Monday night loss is devastating and could all but mean the playoffs are realistically out of the picture now.