San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) passes against Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson (99) during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) throws a pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) After nothing but success the first eight games of the season, the San Francisco 49ers now are learning to deal with failure.
The Niners' perfect season was derailed last week with an overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks when San Francisco was unable to overcome a litany of offensive miscues.
The 49ers (8-1) will look to get back on the winning track Sunday when they host the Arizona Cardinals (3-6-1) for the second time in three weeks.
''I think we have a good mindset with it,'' said quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who had his worst day of the season in the 27-24 loss. ''Everyone was in here yesterday working on the day off. Today it's just a sense of urgency in the building. It's good to see that.''
San Francisco committed three turnovers, allowed five sacks and struggled to get much of anything going consistently on the ground or through the air against Seattle.
The 49ers had season lows in yards rushing (87) and yards per attempt passing (4.7) on a night that star tight end George Kittle was out with an injury and No. 1 receiver Emmanuel Sanders left with injured ribs in the first quarter.
San Francisco is using that performance as a teaching tool for the rest of the season.
''You learn from the good and you learn more from the bad,'' tackle Mike McGlinchey said. ''It's a huge step in the right direction for us to be able take as many blows as we did and play as poorly as we did and still have a chance, not only one chance but multiple chances to win that game. That's a testament to how our defense played. ... We need to do a better job on the offensive side of the ball to make sure we reward their work.''
The Cardinals are stumbling toward their bye week, having lost three straight games after a promising start to the first season under coach Kliff Kingsbury and rookie quarterback Kyler Murray.
One of those losses was two weeks ago when Arizona fell 28-25 at home to the 49ers, a performance that gives the Cardinals confidence that if they can fix some mistakes they can compete with the first-place Niners.
''I don't think we played our best game,'' Murray said. ''I know personally, if we just go out and execute - they know what we do, we know what they do - if we go out and execute, we should be in good shape.''
The Niners' offense was done in by the absence of Kittle and Sanders last week. San Francisco scored 10 points on the opening two drives when Sanders was healthy and then just six more on offense the rest of the game. With no consistent receiving threats, the Seahawks were able to load up against the run and allow only 3.2 yards per carry. Kendrick Bourne had two key drops for San Francisco, while Dante Pettis and Marquise Goodwin combined for no catches on six targets.
Arizona has relied on a variety of playmakers this season and the latest to make big plays is rookie receiver Andy Isabella. The second-round pick out of UMass had an 88-yard touchdown catch against the 49ers in the first meeting between the teams on Oct. 31. He has six catches for 174 yards over the past three games after not even being targeted in the season's first seven games. Kingsbury said Isabella has been improving steadily all season.
''It's been trending that way for a while,'' he said. ''We've had him inside, had him outside, and I think now the comfort level, having him outside more so, has really helped his development recently.''
MAN IN THE MIDDLE
The defensive star of the game for the 49ers last week was middle linebacker Fred Warner, who stepped up his performance in his first game since fellow starting linebacker Kwon Alexander suffered a season-ending torn pectoral muscle. Warner had 10 tackles, the first two sacks of his career, one forced fumble and a pass defensed.
''He gets us in and out of everything,'' coach Kyle Shanahan said. ''He has to make a ton of calls. He's definitely our quarterback out there and I think he does it as good as anyone I've seen.''
Arizona's defense ranks 31st out of 32 teams in points allowed (281), total yards allowed per game (412.5) and passing yards allowed per game (286.5). The Cardinals have given up at least 21 points in all 10 games this season but never have given up more than 38. Linebacker Chandler Jones has been one of the bright spots with 11 1/2 sacks and five forced fumbles. Three-time All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson returned from a six-game suspension last month but hasn't had much of an impact. Kingsbury said the Cardinals had bouts of poor tackling in last week's 30-27 loss to Tampa Bay.
''There were some shoulders being thrown,'' Kingsbury said. ''We have to be better in those situations.''
The 49ers again will be without starting left tackle Joe Staley, who will be out a couple of weeks after undergoing surgery on a broken finger. Staley broke a bone in his leg in Week 2 and missed the next six games. He then got hurt in his return to the lineup. With Staley unable to go, rookie Justin Skule is expected to move back into the lineup.
''I thought he did a very good job,'' Shanahan said of Skule. ''He came in there and stepped it up right away. Did a good job in his first game and I thought he got better each week.''
Houston Texans tight end Darren Fells saw four targets in Week 15 against the Titans, which is more than he'd received in his previous four games. However, he wasn't able to make anything of them. He finished the day with two catches for two yards. Fells showed some promise during the middle of the season, but he's been held under 25 yards in each of his past five games and is not worth trusting as a starting tight end option for fantasy owners going forward.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson caught seven passes for 125 yards in the Bears season-crushing 21-13 loss to the Packers. Robinson surpassed 1,000 yards for the second time in his career on the season and became the first Bear to eclipse that mark since 2014. Robinson has been a steady presence in an otherwise inconsistent Bears offense this season. Robinson will have a decent chance at 100 receptions on the season over the final two games of the year.
New York Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton hauled in a second-half touchdown to salvage his day on Sunday. A week after manhandling the Eagles, many people expected big things for the rookie, but it's important to keep in mind that a few of his big catches last week came on busted coverages. Against the Dolphins on Sunday, he secured two of his three targets for 31 yards and the touchdown. He's clearly the second option as a wide receiver but also saw fewer targets than Saquon Barkley and the same amount as Kaden Smith. If Evan Engram were to return next week, it would push Slayton even further down the pecking order.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Danny Amendola took full advantage of Marvin Jones (ankle) being placed on the injured reserve. Amendola hauled in 8 catches for 102 yards in the Lions Week 15 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The catches and yards led the Lions receivers this week, with no other player on the Lions reaching even respectable fantasy numbers. It's hard to trust Amendola in Week 16 with rookie David Blough at quarterback. The veteran wide receiver will slot in as low-end WR3 at best for that matchup.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Anthony Miller caught a team-high nine receptions for 118 yards and one touchdown in the Bears 21-13 loss to the Packers in Week 15. Miller got off to a slow start but was unstoppable once he got going. His day could have been bigger if not for some misfires by quarterback Mitch Trubisky on a frigid day in Green Bay. The second-year receiver is having an excellent second half to his season, racking up 33 receptions for 389 yards and two touchdowns over his last five games. Miller will have intriguing streamer appeal, especially in DFS, over the final two games.
Houston Texans kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn only had one field goal opportunity in Week 15 against the Titans. It was a 29-yard attempt and he was able to convert. He was also a perfect 3-for-3 on extra-point opportunities. Fairbairn's only had four field goal attempts in his past four games. He's had a decent year and he kicks for a team with a fantastic offense, but the opportunities just aren't coming at a high rate. He's a viable low-end starting option at kicker going forward.
New York Giants tight end Kaden Smith drew another start on Sunday and finished with three catches for 38 yards. As long as Evan Engram (foot) is out, Smith will continue to see nearly all of the snaps at tight end for the Giants. However, he remains a touchdown-dependent option that isn't safe enough for fantasy championships.
Detroit Lions quarterback David Blough was not able to get much going in the Lions Week 15 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Blough completed 24-of-43 attempts for 260 scoreless yards and two interceptions on the day. The rookie also accounted for 19 yards on the ground on five attempts. Blough is clearly not ready yet, and that has had a negative effect on the entire Lions offense. Things don't figure to change much when the Lions face the Houston Texans in Week 16. Blough will not be a recommended fantasy option for that matchup.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon ran for 136 yards on 25 attempts during the loss to New England on Sunday. He also pulled in all three of his targets for 20 yards. Mixon was the lone bright spot on an afternoon that saw Andy Dalton throw four picks against a challenging Patriots Defense. While the 23-year-old didn't find the end zone, he continues to get it done on the ground by rushing for at least 136 yards in each of his last two outings. With 789 rushing yards on the year, he still has a shot to hit 1,000, with his next chance to keep things moving to come against Miami in Week 16.
The Texans Defense didn't have a horrible day against the Titans in Week 15, but they didn't supply much value for fantasy owners. They allowed 21 points in the game and forced only one turnover, an interception. They also only managed two sacks in the game. It was an improvement after the team allowed 38 points to the Broncos in Week 14, but they'll need to do more to inspire confidence to start in fantasy going forward.
New York Giants running back Javorius Allen saw his first real action of the year, collecting 28 yards and a touchdown in relief of Saquon Barkley. Almost all of Allen's work came on a late fourth-quarter drive when the Giants were up comfortably and rested Barkley, so there's not much stand-alone value in future weeks. However, if the Giants go up big on the Redskins next week, he could see some more garbage time work.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II did not contribute much in the Bucs Week 15 win over the Detroit Lions. Jones touched the ball a total of 12 times and accounted for 49 scoreless yards on the day. Fellow backfield mate Peyton Barber touched the ball the same amount of times and put up similar yards in a game where neither back was heavily involved. Jones will face the Houston Texans in Week 15. He is not a recommended start for that matchup.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Peyton Barber was quiet in the Bucs Week 15 win over the Detroit Lions. Barber accounted for 30 scoreless yards on 12 total touches. Those in the fantasy semi-finals that chose to rely on him this week were obviously disappointed. The Bucs backfield is a guessing game every week, with neither Barber Nor Ronald Jones II currently holding much fantasy value. Barber will not be a recommended fantasy start in Week 16 against the Houston Texans.
Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller had a solid game against the Titans in Week 15. He caught five of his six targets for 61 yards. He was second on the team in receptions and yards, behind DeAndre Hopkins in both categories. Fuller's had a rollercoaster of a fantasy season, but it's mostly been disappointing outside of his 217-yard, three-touchdown explosion against the Falcons in early October. That remains the only game he's scored in this season. He'll be a potential WR3 or flex option in Week 16 against a Buccaneers Defense that struggles against the pass.
New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard was the star receiver for the team a week after Darius Slayton exploded on primetime against the Eagles. Shepard was second on the team in targets last week, so his role in the offense was never in doubt. This week, he led the team with 11 targets, finishing with nine catches for 111 yards. If Eli Manning remains under center next week, Shepard looks likely to remain his top target.
Chicago Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky completed 29 of 53 passes for 348 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the Bears 21-13 loss to the Packers. With the team's slim playoff hopes alive, Trubisky and the offense came up short. Trubisky threw an inconsequential interception to end the first half but rebounded to zip a pass to receiver Anthony Miller for a score to make it a game. But despite some promising drives, the Bears offense failed consistently to convert them into points, unable to convert on three fourth-down situations. Trubisky was able to post a solid fantasy day but questions still remain moving forward about his ability to consistently operate an above average offense.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton went 17-for-31 passing for 151 yards, while throwing four interceptions and a touchdown during the loss to New England in Week 15. With Dalton without A.J. Green (ankle), who hasn't played a game this season, along with the recently injured Auden Tate (knee), the veteran wasn't able to get anything going against a difficult Patriots Defense. Dalton hasn't done much since reclaiming his job as the team's No. 1, throwing just two touchdowns to go along with five picks over his previous three outings. With Cincy having nothing left to play for but draft picks, Dalton's status as the primary signal-caller moving ahead isn't a lock, even though he likely isn't on many fantasy rosters at the moment.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay seriously let down fantasy owners in Week 15. The third-year wide receiver was only able to haul in three catches for 44 yards on one of the most important days of the fantasy year. All the blame can't fall on Golladay though, as rookie quarterback David Blough was just not able to get anything going for most of the afternoon. Fantasy owners heading into the fantasy finals in Week 16 have a big decision to make surrounding Golladay, considering his current value is nowhere near where it is when Matthew Stafford is under center. Golladay will slot in as a borderline WR2/3 in Week 16 when the Lions take on the Denver Broncos.
Houston Texans wide receiver Kenny Stills entered Week 15 with only two touchdowns on the season, but he was able to equal that total in just two quarters of this week's game. Stills reeled in two second quarter touchdowns and wound up with three catches for 35 yards on the day. Stills has been very inconsistent this year. He was held under 10 receiving yards in two of his previous three games before this week. He's clearly got upside to deliver strong fantasy weeks, but it's tough to predict when they'll occur, so he's best left on your bench or on waivers.
New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate made his impact felt on one play on Sunday. The veteran slot receiver hauled in a 51-yard touchdown from Eli Manning for his only catch of the day on four targets. He's certainly taken a backseat to Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton and will be hard to trust with fantasy seasons on the line next week, even against the Redskins.