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.''
Kansas City Chiefs running back Darwin Thompson was solid on the ground during the second half of the Week 13 victory over the Raiders. Sadly, Thompson was unable to carry that momentum into his Week 14 matchup with the Patriots. He rushed four times for seven yards, but caught four passes for 36 yards through the air. Veteran LeSean McCoy saw most of the touches in the backfield on Sunday. The good news is, Thompson was able to show promise in the passing game. He should stay involved in the passing game if Damien Williams (ribs) is out for the Week 15 matchup with the Broncos. Thompson would have some PPR value in fantasy leagues if the Chiefs continue to target him in the passing game next week.
The New England Patriots Defense was able to contain, for the most part, an explosive Chiefs offense but came up short in the team's 23-17 loss in Week 14. The Patriots had their 21-game winning streak at home snapped as the defense totaled one sack, one interception and one forced fumble. The Patriots defense has failed to replicate their borderline historic numbers from the first half of the season and the slump the offense is currently in isn't helping matters. The vaunted unit, however, will be back at the top of the rankings in Week 15 against an awful Bengals team.
New England Patriots running back Rex Burkhead carried the ball seven times for 15 yards in the Patriots 23-17 loss to the Chiefs. The offense endured one of its worst performances of the season but Burkhead's snaps went up. He even out-snapped second-year running back Sony Michel and it is fair to question if the Patriots may opt to use more of Burkhead moving forward. Even if his playing time increases, Burkhead will struggle to rise above RB4 status heading into Week 15.
Kansas City Chiefs running back LeSean McCoy was given the start against the New England Patriots in Week 14. Lead back Damien Williams (ribs) did not suit up for this one, so the veteran McCoy was given the start. However, McCoy was unable to capitalize on the extra opportunities. He rushed 11 times for 39 yards and caught one pass for four yards through the air. Spencer Ware and Darwin Thompson took snaps in the backfield as well, but McCoy didn't do anything to deserve extra snaps. At this point in the season, McCoy has turned into a desperation flex option for deep leagues. He might get another start in Week 15, but he hasn't done enough to warrant starting him in most formats.
New England Patriots wide receiver Mohamed Sanu caught only one pass for 13 yards in the Patriots 23-17 loss to the Chiefs in Week 14. The veteran receiver was targeted only once and was a complete non-factor in the game. Sanu has been dealing with an ankle injury and it is fair to question whether he can truly contribute the rest of the fantasy season. He simply is struggling to get on the same page with quarterback Tom Brady and is learning a new offense on the fly. Sanu should ride the fantasy bench in Week 15.
New England Patriots wide receiver N'Keal Harry caught one pass for 12 yards in the Patriots 23-17 loss to the Chiefs. Harry caught the pass and made an excellent, athletic move towards the end zone but was called out of bounds. Upon further replay, Harry in fact scored on his lone reception but the Patriots were out of challenges to reverse the ruling. The rookie receiver has size and speed but is way behind in terms of his knowledge of the nuances in the Patriots offense. Harry is not fantasy viable right now outside of keeper or dynasty leagues.
New Orleans Saints running back Latavius Murray posted 64 rushing yards on seven carries and caught two of three targets for 25 yards in a 48-46 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Murray was out-touched by Alvin Kamara 17-nine, though Murray looked like the better player in this game. It was a great rebound effort for the 29-year-old, who had seen his snaps decrease steadily over the last three games. Perhaps the coaching staff will look to Murray more moving forward, especially considering they promised him more touches earlier in the year. He and the Saints will take on a strong Indianapolis Colts run defense in Week 15.
New England Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers caught one pass for 35 yards in the team's 23-17 loss to the Chiefs. The rookie was able to make a splash-play but did little else with his three targets in the game. The Patriots offense is in crisis mode right now and expecting a rookie like Meyers to pull them out of it is not realistic. Meyers should, however, continue to see a consistent amount of game snaps as the Patriots offense is very thin at wide receiver right now.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was held in check by the Patriots during their Week 14 contest. The reigning MVP was held under 300 passing yards for the third straight game. Mahomes completed 26 of 40 passing attempts for 283 yards and one touchdown with one interception in the victory over New England. The Pats defense has been tough to pass against this season, so it's not surprising that Mahomes was slowed down. Fantasy owners can hope for a rebound contest against the average Denver Broncos pass defense in Week 15.
New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman caught eight passes for 95 yards and one touchdown in the Patriots 23-17 loss to the Chiefs in Week 14. New England's offense is in full-blown crisis mode but Edelman continues to put up career numbers. Edelman surpassed 1,000 yards receiving for the third time in his career and now has 90 receptions on the season with six touchdowns. The Patriots offense is in a deep slump but Edelman can be safely dropped into fantasy starting lineups heading into Week 15.
New England Patriots running back James White carried the ball six times for 33 yards and added five receptions for 35 yards in the Patriots Week 14 loss to the Chiefs. On a night when the Patriots offense struggled for most of the game there weren't many bright spots to be found. From a fantasy perspective, however, White is slowly taking hold of the lead running back duties in the backfield. The Patriots appear to have lost all faith in second-year back Sony Michel and White brings versatility in the passing game. Look for White's touches to continue to rise in the final three games of the season.
The Minnesota Vikings Defense came through in a big way in Week 14's victory over the Detroit Lions. Harrison Smith and Andrew Sendejo both had interceptions and the Vikings sacked David Blough five times in what was a dominating effort from start to finish. Defensive end Danielle Hunter was an absolute force as he picked up three sacks and three tackles for loss in the win. Hunter became the youngest player to reach 50 sacks in the history of the NFL; it's past time for him to be a household name in the league. Cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes (ankle) and Mike Hughes (oblique) left the contest late, but Mike Zimmer wasn't concerned about their injuries after the game. The Vikings Defense will be a recommended play in Week 15 against the Los Angeles Chargers.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady completed only 19 of 36 passes for 169 yards, one touchdown and one interception in the Patriots 23-17 loss to the Chiefs. New England had a 21-game winning streak at home snapped as the offense continued its descent into mediocrity. All of the blame should not go to Brady but the future Hall of Famer's completion percentage continues to plummet. Four rushing touchdowns have helped his fantasy production over the last month but Brady has passed for only nine touchdowns over his last eight games played. The Patriots are heading towards the playoffs but will need massive improvement if they hope to defend their title. Brady's fantasy value is in free-fall right now.
New England Patriots running back Sony Michel carried the ball only five times for eight yards in the Patriots 23-17 loss to the Chiefs. The second-year running back was completely phased out of the team's offensive game plan as the Patriots search for an offensive identity. His fantasy value, in turn, has reached a new low as James White, Rex Burkhead and Brandon Bolden all out-rushed Michel. The talented back has lost so much fantasy luster over the last month that fantasy owners may need to consider dropping him in favor of higher upside options moving forward.
Denver Broncos WR Courtland Sutton caught five of his seven targets for 34 yards in a 38-24 win over the Houston Texans in Week 14.
Fantasy Spin: Although he didn't pile up a bunch of yards, Sutton led the team in receptions and targets. A Week 15 matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs should have him back in the WR2 conversation.
Denver Broncos LB Todd Davis finished with 15 tackles, including five solo stops, in a 38-24 win over the Houston Texans in Week 14.
Fantasy Spin: Davis has quietly delivered double-digit tackles in five straight games, making him a streaming option for those in the IDP market.
New Orleans Saints WR Tre'Quan Smith snagged two of his four targets for 29 yards and a touchdown vs. the San Francisco 49ers in Week 14 on Sunday, Dec. 8.
Fantasy Spin: Smith missed so much time this year with ankle injury and was set back because of it. He how has scores in two of his last three but has no more than a pair of catches in any of the last five appearances. That kind of involvement is of no use in fantasy playoff lineups.
Denver Broncos CB Kareem Jackson finished with 11 tackles, including six solo stops, an interception, three passes defensed and returned a fumble 70 yards for a touchdown in a 38-24 win over the Houston Texans in Week 14.
Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison had 14 carries for 46 yards in Week 14, adding two receptions for 18 yards in the win. The 16 touches were a new career-high for the rookie as he got a lot of late-game run with the Vikings holding a sizeable lead. Mattison likely won't offer standalone value in the fantasy playoffs, but he remains valuable as a priority handcuff to starter Dalvin Cook.
New Orleans Saints WR Ted Ginn Jr. caught four passes for 50 yards on six targets vs. the San Francisco 49ers in Week 14 on Sunday, Dec. 8.
Fantasy Spin: Ginn is merely a flier for a cheap touchdown most weeks. With so much at stake in Week 15, he's no better than a weak flex vs. Indy. The Colts gave up six WR scores in the five games entering Week 14 before allowing a trio of TDs to the position against the Bucs.