When it rains, it pours, and that could be said not only for the extreme conditions at Levi's® Stadium in Week 7, but also the San Francisco 49ers disappointing outing against the Indianapolis Colts. San Francisc struggled to sustain drives and gave Indianapolis a number of opportunities to capitalize off of mistakes. The 49ers have now dropped their fourth-straight game, bringing their record to 2-4.
Here are five takeaways from the 49ers 30-18 loss to the Colts:
Battle of the Ground Games
Elijah Mitchell got the offense off to a fast start, notching 57 yards on just five carries on San Francisco's opening drive, including a 14-yard touchdown to get the 49ers on the board first. The rookie was the 49ers lone workhorse on the night, posting a career-high 107 yards on 18 carries and a score.
Meanwhile, the 49ers hadn't allowed a 100-yard rusher in 25-straight contests, which stood as the longest active streak in the NFL. That all changed when Jonathan Taylor came to town, as the running back posted his second-straight 100-yard outing by matching Mitchell with 107 yards of his own on 18 carries and a touchdown.
San Francisco's ground game averaged 5.3 yards per carry to Indianapolis' 4.9.
Giveaways and Takeaways
Heading into Sunday's contest, the Colts ranked third in the league in turnover differential with just five giveaways on the season to 12 takeaways gained. They added two more giveaways to their total on Sunday. On the first play of Indianapolis' opening drive, linebacker Fred Warner recovered a loose ball from Colts running back Jonathan Taylor. Warner's fumble recovery marked the fourth of his career and first of the season.
Two drives later, quarterback Carson Wentz led Indianapolis to inside of the 49ers 5 yard line to put the Colts in scoring position. On 2nd-and-4 at the 49ers 4 yard line, Wentz shoveled a pass directly into the arms of linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair. Prior to Week 7, Wentz had notched just one interception through six games, the lowest interception rate in the league.
It's also worth noting, Al-Shaair has two-career interceptions, with both coming against Wentz.
Going into Sunday night, the 49ers were tied for 29th in turnover differential, recording just two takeaways through five games. Unfortunately for San Francisco, the team only managed three points off of the Colts first half turnovers.
San Francisco had a whopping four turnovers (two fumbles, two interceptions) with three of four resulting in points for Indy. The 49ers gave up a total of 21 points off turnovers.
Third Down Struggles
While the 49ers started off hot, the offense faltered thereafter, struggling to sustain drives. San Francisco was 0-9 on third downs in the first half, converting on their first midway through the game. San Francisco finished the night completing just 1-of-11 third downs on the night.
"When you go three and out as many times as we did, there's going to be a lot of things you wish you did more. But I don't think we got those drives," Kyle Shanahan said postgame. "I feel like we played in the first quarter and I felt like we played in the fourth quarter and everything in between seemed like we couldn't make a big play on first and second down which does happen, but you've got to move the chain on third down to get another set of calls and we didn't do that."
The 49ers have converted on just 22-of -70 third downs (31 percent) this season.
San Francisco continued to shoot themselves in the foot with penalties. The team committed seven penalties for a whopping 122 yards. Two of the Colts touchdowns were set up by way of defensive pass interference calls on deep passes downfield. Per NFL Research, through the first three quarters of the contest, the Colts gained 73 yards on Carson Wentz completions and 97 yards on defensive pass interference calls.
"It's been a struggle all year," Shanahan said. "Today was the worst. It's always hard getting your footing but it was for them too. We gave them way too many explosive freebies, especially those two touchdown drives in the first half. We work pretty hard at that to try and get the best guy out there, stuff isn't going to get better if we can't fix it. We can't give them the freebies. We have to make them earn it. We didn't do that."
Strong safety Jaquiski Tartt left the game in the fourth quarter with a knee injury and did not return.
Emmanuel Moseley was down on the field after splitting a tackle with Al-Shaair late in the fourth quarter with a back injury.
Shanahan also revealed edge rusher Dee Ford is being evaluated with a head injury that was suffered in the final minutes of the game.