SANTA CLARA – After scoring touchdowns on their first two drives Sunday against the New York Jets, the 49ers’ offense went mostly dormant for the remainder of the game.
Kicker Phil Dawson missed two field goals in the first half before connecting on a 47-yarder with 5 minutes, 45 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
In the second half, the 49ers’ offense turned conservative while trying to protect a 14-point lead.
“Yeah, I agree with that,” 49ers coach Chip Kelly said.
The 49ers managed just two first downs and the 49ers seemed to be more interested in holding onto for the victory, rather than extending their 17-3 halftime advantage. Kelly said he was influenced by the loss of four offensive starters.
Left tackle Joe Staley was out with a hamstring injury. During the game, center Daniel Kilgore (leg), tight end Vance McDonald (shoulder) and wide receiver Torrey Smith (concussion) were forced out of the action.
"That's on me as the playcaller, but I just really wasn’t confident," Kelly said. "You lost Vance. You lost Torrey. You’ve got two new guys in there on the offensive line. I was making sure we were good with protection. They were bringing a lot of zero blitzes. You’ve got to get the ball off quick. Make sure that we’ve got the guys picked up, but yeah that’s on me.”
Colin Kaepernick completed 11 of 15 passes for 116 yards in the first half. After halftime, he completed just four of 11 attempts for 17 yards.
“I think Chip is trying to do what’s best for this team and put us in the best situation to win,” Kaepernick said. “Obviously, we had two linemen go down, two linemen who are very good for us. So I think he was trying to align our offense in the best situation to go out and succeed.”
Running back Carlos Hyde collected a career-high 193 yards on 17 rushing attempts. But when the 49ers needed just 2 more yards to extend the overtime-opening drive, Hyde was stuffed for no gain on a zone-read handoff from Kaepernick. The Jets promptly marched down the field for the winning touchdown.
“That’s the play we’ve been running the whole game,” Hyde said. “The Jets just played good defense right there. They did a good job of filling all the holes where I’d have a lane to go, and tried to hit it up in there and get a push. But they did a good job there.”
Said Kaepernick, “In that situation, Chip had confidence that we would be able to get some push, get that first down and we didn’t finish.”
Kelly elected to go for it on fourth and 2 from the Jets’ 37-yard line. Dawson was just out of field-goal range. And Kelly said he did not want to put the 49ers’ defense back on the field. The Jets’ offense was on the field for 17 ½ minutes more than the 49ers’ offense, so San Francisco's defense was exhausted and getting pushed around.
“I was a little concerned about putting our defense back out on the field in that situation,” Kelly said. “Obviously, in the overtime rules, you kick a field goal there’s an opportunity for the other team to go back out there and match it. So we could take a little bit of pressure off of them by converting offensively. We didn’t take any pressure off our defense in the second half because of the three-and-outs.
“I thought with a yard, we had a shot the way Carlos was running. That was the one thing that was moving for us offensively, was Carlos running the ball.”
Dawson entered the game with 14 consecutive made field goals, but he missed in the first half from 44 and 48 yards. Dawson said the wind affected his first attempt.
“You got to chalk that up to Levi’s Stadium,” Dawson said. “It just got me. I wasn’t expecting it to do what it did in the air. . . .It was going right down the middle and it took a hard left turn right around the goal line. I wasn’t expecting that. I don’t really know what to do on that one.
“The second one (was) 100 percent on me. That was a missed field goal by me. No explanation. Nothing like that.”