SANTA CLARA — The 49ers shut down the Ravens game Wednesday morning, doing their usual film review with coach Kyle Shanahan in great detail. If everything goes as planned, the one-sided loss won’t define their season at all.
Then they began implementing a game plan against the Washington Commanders, who, at 4-11 and with coach Ron Rivera having one foot out, could define another lost season by knocking out the top seed from NFC.
The Los Angeles Rams, the hottest team in the conference, await you in the regular season finale at Levi’s Stadium, but let’s not go too far.
“We know we have to win these next two games to get to where we’re trying to go,” linebacker Fred Warner said. “So at the end of the day, this game is everything. It doesn’t matter if you win two games if you don’t win the first one.
A 33-19 loss to Baltimore on Christmas night left a slim margin for error. The 49ers (11-4) could lose one of the two and still be No. 1, but that’s not likely considering Philadelphia (11-4) ends up with Arizona (3-12 ) and the New York Giants (5-10). ). Detroit (11-4) could also be in play for No. 1 with a 49ers loss depending on what happens with the Eagles.
What the 49ers learned against Baltimore were the details and minutiae of football that led to five interceptions and 10 penalties for 102 yards. It had nothing to do with overconfidence, taking anything for granted or being on cruise control after six straight wins.
“We were so excited to have the opportunity to show the world how good we are, but I think Kyle did a really good job today of putting that to bed and we move on thing,” Nick Bosa said. “There are a lot of positives in a team like this, the way we’ve bounced back before and the maturity of our group. I think this could be an advantage for us in the future.
Quarterback Brock Purdy, who threw four interceptions, will address the media Thursday, but he was no different than any other day, cheerfully and politely accepting well wishes on his 24th birthday. Based on what we’ve seen in his previous 23 NFL games, it’s unlikely he’ll end up in the fetal position after a bad game.
Purdy had already looked into the film before meeting Shanahan on Tuesday, then watched it again.
“I know it’s tough when you have four picks and no touchdowns, especially when you have four with two minutes left in the fourth quarter,” Shanahan said. “But you talk to him about why they happened, what happened, and when you watch the game, it’s not hard for him to bounce back and get to work this week.”
It’s the NFL. Things happen. The Ravens then bragged about their victory and rightfully so. The winner gets the trash talk. But make no mistake, even if the 49ers don’t say it out loud, they would like nothing better than to see Baltimore again on Feb. 11 at Allegiant Stadium in Super Bowl LVIII.
It’s not like the 49ers were stopped in their tracks by Ray Lewis and the 2000 Ravens. Or even the 2012 Ravens who beat the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.
On Monday night, in the first half alone, the 49ers racked up 231 yards on 27 plays and averaged 8.6 yards per snap. And this supposedly modernized Baltimore passing attack? It wasn’t as impressive as Lamar Jackson creating with his legs to find receivers or running to gain yardage. Jackson was great and could win his second MVP, but the offense was the same as ever.
Baltimore had six possessions in the red zone thanks to turnovers and scored on only half of them. It was miraculous that the 49ers had the chance to make it a one-score game in the final minutes.
It was all about interceptions and mistakes for the 49ers. Cut the turnovers to two and the penalties in half and they would have won.
The hardest part isn’t so much a potential rematch with the Ravens in the Super Bowl as getting there in the first place. Things looked encouraging Wednesday for left tackle Trent Williams, who left the game with a groin strain, while left guard Aaron Banks is out with a recurrence of turf toe.
The makeup of the offensive line could be a minor change or two or a drastic transformation if neither Williams nor Banks can play. This will play out for the rest of the week and next week. A new defensive tackle, Sebastian Joseph-Day, has arrived to help pick up the slack following the loss of Arik Armstead over the last three games to a foot injury.
The 49ers could also be down to their third strong starting safety (Logan Ryan? Isaiah Oliver?) if rookie Ji’Ayir Brown’s sprained knee is anything to go by and he joins Talanoa Hufanga on the 49ers’ reserve roster. wounded.
Yet rather than having the appearance of a team headed to the gallows, the Ravens gave the 49ers a significant dose of perspective.
“I don’t think we need a wake-up call, but you learn from your experiences and I think that highlights the fact that we need to stay in the moment and not look at the single seed or have to “We win as many games,” Bosa said. “Things can go south very quickly in the NFL and they can look a lot better week in and week out.”
When the 49ers lost three straight games in Weeks 6-8, the conventional wisdom was that they had lost touch with Philadelphia for the No. 1 seed. Then they caught up and passed the Eagles in Week 13 with a big win in Philadelphia.
The biggest losses are the ones that don’t include a movie review because the season is over, and the Christmas Eve debacle wasn’t anywhere close to that. So the 49ers took their medication in hopes of feeling better.
For Warner, the choice is clear. One option is to assume that everything is fine, that it will continue to be fine, and that the Ravens’ loss was just a blip on the radar screen. The other is to look in the mirror.
“You always want to do better from a win than a loss and find a way to win, but in a loss you think about it carefully, you’re honest with yourself,” Warner said. “You make the corrections and you move forward.”
Progress over the next six weeks will be difficult, as the 49ers know that all too well, having lost the Super Bowl and two NFC title games in the last four years.
But if they get to Las Vegas and face the Ravens, don’t expect the 49ers to be intimidated. Instead, they will wait and leave the turnovers and penalties at home.
The real accomplishment will be getting there first, and that’s where the story of their season will be told.
California Daily Newspapers