The 49ers found themselves in a strange position Sunday afternoon and didn’t know quite what to do.
At halftime, the Niners led 17-3 over the New York Jets at Levi’s Stadium. For a team with an 11-game losing streak and a 1-11 record that hadn’t won since the season opener, it was no-man’s land. So, the 49ers promptly reverted to norm, gave up 14 unanswered points over the second half to go to overtime tied, and then gave up a 19-yard touchdown run by Bilal Powell to lose, 23-17.
The 49ers, who looked as if they were on their way to a win that would have likely booted them out of the running for next year’s No. 1 draft pick, fall to 1-12 and remain right on the heels of the winless Browns. The Jets, meanwhile, who looked as hapless as the 49ers Sunday, improve to 4-9.
The 49ers controlled the first half by running Carlos Hyde early and often. Hyde had a huge day, rushing for 193 yards on 17 carries, with a TD that gave San Francisco a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. The 49ers boosted that to 14-0 on a 4-yard run by Shaun Draughn. Phil Dawson tacked on a 47-yard field goal (after Nick Folk hit a field goal for the Jets) to give San Francisco its 17-3 halftime lead.
But, the 49ers missed an opportunity for a bigger lead, with Dawson missing two field-goal attempts of 44 and 48 yards.
Then, after the Jets forced overtime, it appeared the 49ers might quickly score on the first drive. But on a fourth-and-1 ½ from the Jets’ 37, Hyde, who hadn’t been stopped all day, was stopped cold. That gave the ball to New York, which then marched to its game-winning score.
The 49ers now head into their final three games, with the first matchup this coming Sunday in Atlanta against the Falcons.