The SF 49ers’ loss to the Bills on Monday night resulted in many players feeling dejected, and that needs to turn around in a quick hurry.
The 2020 SF 49ers are stuck somewhere in between being a lowly bottom-feeding team hoping for an early pick in next year’s NFL Draft and a team that could be on the cusp of a final Wild Cart spot in the playoffs.
In the shorter sense, they’re capable of pulling off a surprise win over a good team (see Week 12 at the LA Rams) that’ll get everyone’s hopes up. Yet they’re just as capable of coughing up a stinker like their Week 13 Monday Night Football loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Granted, the 34-24 outcome makes San Francisco’s seventh loss of the season seem closer than the game actually was. Bills quarterback Josh Allen had no issues carving up the SF 49ers defense to the tune of 375 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions. Head coach Kyle Shanahan’s own offense was inconsistent and stymied when extended drives mattered most to match what Buffalo was doing on offense.
The end result? A 5-7 record through 13 weeks and now the No. 11 seed in the NFC playoff picture.
The Niners aren’t eliminated from playoff contention just yet. But they’re not at that point where elimination is just around the corner.
Worse yet, the players seem to know it.
Players react to Week 13 loss vs. Buffalo.
Posted by San Francisco 49ers on Monday, December 7, 2020
“We’ve got four more games that we can account for, that we’re in charge of, and we’ve got to win all of them,” Kyle Shanahan told reporters after the game. “I know with our team right now, the only thing we can count on and control is making sure we win the rest of these.”
Linebacker Dre Greenlaw also added he felt the SF 49ers had a great game plan for the Bills, saying, “We knew exactly what they were running… We just came up short.”
Greenlaw, like many of the other players, looked more than dejected and didn’t seem overly enthusiastic about bouncing back from the loss and getting into a playoff-seeking mode.
The problem, however, is the Niners didn’t showcase that playoff-seeking mode much at all in Week 13. Yes, they were outcoached and outplayed by a better Bills team on virtually all fronts. But to stress the point, Buffalo is the kind of playoff-caliber talent San Francisco will face if it makes the postseason. And with back-to-back games in Weeks 16 and 17 against the higher-seeded Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks, respectively, that sense of urgency needs to arrive now.
Heck, it needed to continue after Week 12’s win over the NFC West-leading Rams.
After this loss, another could easily thwart any hope the SF 49ers have for the postseason.
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Cornerback Richard Sherman, who himself didn’t exactly have the best performance against a high-profile Bills offense, perhaps said it best during postgame press conferences:
"They’re all must-wins. We’ve got to go out there, and we’ve got to find a way to get it done. Unfortunately, today, we didn’t get it done on the defensive side of the ball, and we’ve got to check the film out hard and be able to make those adjustments and make those corrections."
Likewise, offensive tackle Trent Williams‘ comments should be stressed, too:
"We’ve got four games left. It’s the last quarter of the year. We understand that the focus has to be heightened, that we don’t really have a lot of wiggle room. We kind of control our own destiny, but we still need some guys to fall short. We only can control what we can control. Our next focus is on Washington, and we’ve got to get a win."
Winning out will surely be difficult for the Niners, who not only have dealt with the league’s most injuries this season but have also been uprooted from Levi’s Stadium for at least two games in the wake of Santa Clara County’s COVID-19 protocols against contact sports in the wake of an increase in virus cases.
But no one is going to give San Francisco a pass for facing arguably more adversity this season than any other team in the league.
In a sense, it’s a good thing the SF 49ers can still somewhat control their own fate this last quarter of the regular season. Yet the overwhelming lack of urgency in Week 13, paired with another letdown in a must-win game, means even that urgency might not be enough to get the team into the playoffs this season.
Unless the team figures out a way to rally around this latest setback. And soon.