As frustrating as it was for the 49ers in 2017, it was different. This team was bad, and everyone knew it.
On Sunday, the 49ers lost their third straight game. This time, they lost 17-10 to the Arizona Cardinals, leaders of NFC West.
While the scores haven’t been as close as in the nerve-racking 49ers games four seasons ago, it has been more difficult as the 49ers believe they should be a playoff team.
So what gives?
The 49ers (2-3) were good in some areas but not good enough in all areas to avoid this slippage that sent them three games behind the Cardinals (5-0) in the division standings.
Here are the notes from the 49ers’ last loss:
Quarterback Trey Lance, making his first start in the NFL, racked up a record 89 rushing yards in 16 attempts. Rookie running back Elijah Mitchell returned to the lineup after missing two games with a shoulder injury and gained 43 yards on nine attempts.
The running game was good, but it wasn’t good enough to get the tough yards when it mattered most.
Lance’s most difficult moment came at the end of the match’s first practice when he passed a wide open Travis Benjamin. The pass passed through Cardinals safety Budda Baker for interception. That turnover led to an Arizona touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
Lance completed 15 of 29 passes for 192 passing yards and the only interception. His passer rating was 58.4. The 49ers had three dropped assists, including one from veteran Mohamed Sanu in a key third play in the third quarter. Deebo Samuel was targeted nine times and walked away with just three receptions for 58 yards.
RELATED: Shanahan Says ‘Nothing Has Changed’ in QB Situation
The rating is not good, but Lance has shown a lot of promise. The 49ers were called up for five holding penalties, two each by left tackle Trent Williams and right tackle Mike McGlinchey.
The 49ers did a good job against the two Cardinals running backs, James Conner and Chase Edmonds. Conner had 29 yards on 10 carries, while Edmonds had just 16 yards on six carries.
The 49ers have even managed to keep quarterback Kyler Murray a secret. Murray had four rushing attempts for 8 yards before missing the time with three knees. The 49ers’ run defense tightened after the Cardinals got a few yards in their first practice of the game, which culminated in Conner’s one-yard touchdown run.
The 49ers’ run defense allowed Conner to gain 8 and 4 yards on straight plays to keep Arizona out of time.
Murray completed 22 of 31 passes for 239 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. The 49ers generated a takeaway with cornerback Dontae Johnson stripping Edmonds of the ball after a short pass.
DeAndre Hopkins had six catches for 87 yards for the Cardinals, and he took control in the fourth quarter helping the Cardinals take a 10-point lead. He caught a deep ball on Jimmie Ward, then went to the other side and beat Josh Norman for a 9-yard touchdown reception.
DJ Jones and Nick Bosa sacked Murray for 29 yards.
Joey Slye was in his first game replacing Robbie Gould, who injured his groin last week. Slye has had touchbacks on each of his three kickoffs. He pulled off a 47-yard field goal attempt in the fourth quarter to bring the 49ers down to less than seven points, giving them a chance in the last minute.
Brandon Aiyuk averaged just 3.0 yards on two punt returns. Bettor Mitch Wishnowsky averaged 48.5 yards (net 42.5) on two punts.
Coach Kyle Shanahan could have been more determined to follow the running game -om the running back position. Mitchell has been successful. The 49ers didn’t shuffle Trey Sermon into the game at all.
Decisions to go for five fourth downs meant the 49ers passed up the six-point possibility on field goals. The decisions weren’t so much the issues, but the game calls fell flat.
Full-back Kyle Juszczyk lined up under center on a play of fourths and 1s and was pissed off. Shanahan suggested that there were a lot of options with this piece, and “some things got messed up.”
While this could be a mistake on the part of the players, it is also Shanahan’s responsibility to keep everyone on the same page.
The 49ers faced off against the undefeated Cardinals and felt like they should have won.
“This game was there to be taken. We just didn’t take advantage, ”said Trent Williams.
RELATED: Lance Feeling ‘Good’ After NFL’s First Physical Start
We agree. The 49ers’ defense kept them within striking range, and the team’s inability to have the right play – or the right execution – on the third and fourth downs cost them dearly. The 49ers kept Arizona at a season’s low in yards and points. Still, they failed to do the little things that should have made their way back into the winning column.