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.''
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins completed 19-of-25 for 207 yards and a touchdown in a dominating Week 15 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. He also added three rushes for 14 yards. He did toss an interception, but the blame for that one lays squarely on backup running back Ameer Abdullah. Cousins was very efficient again this week, but he simply didn't need to put up big fantasy numbers as the Vikings held a two-possession lead and heavily emphasized the ground game for most of the second half. His lone touchdown pass came on a one-yarder to Irv Smith Jr. to open up the game. Cousins will be on the low-end QB1 radar for Week 16's home matchup against the Green Bay Packers.
The Washington Redskins Defense ended a three-game streak of playing admirably in Sunday's loss to the Eagles. Carson Wentz launched three touchdowns through the air, while Miles Sanders racked up 172 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns of his own. The Redskins didn't help their bottom line with turnovers and sacks the way they have been of late, getting to Wentz just twice and recovering one forced fumble. The end result was 31 points surrendered defensively and not enough complementary stats to account for those points in fantasy lineups. Washington's defense will have a chance to bounce back against the Giants at home next week.
Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph caught all three of his targets for 48 yards in Week 15's 39-10 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. Rudolph finished second in targets and receiving yardage on the team this week as he surprisingly remained relevant despite Adam Thielen's return. Rookie Irv Smith Jr. vultured a one-yard touchdown in the first quarter, but Rudolph's continued involvement in the offense is definitely encouraging. Continue to view him as a touchdown-dependent TE2 heading into Week 16 against the Green Bay Packers.
Washington Redskins wide receiver Kelvin Harmon was largely absent from his team's offensive attack for the second week in a row on Sunday. Harmon caught two passes on three targets and accumulated just 22 total yards in a loss to the Eagles. This is a discouraging trend for Harmon after he appeared to be carving out a spot in the pecking order in late November and early December. In any case, the fantasy season is at the point where owners just have to trust what their eyes are telling them. Harmon has dropped too far off the map to be considered a realistically safe bet in the late stages of the fantasy playoffs.
Cleveland Browns kicker Austin Seibert hit one of his two field goals in a 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15. Seibert also tacked on three extra points in the loss. The rookie kicker missed a 45-yard field goal at the beginning of the fourth quarter, his fourth missed field goal of the season. In all, Seibert has been a reliable kicker for the Browns this season, although their poor offense has limited his scoring chances. Seibert will not be a recommended fantasy option in Week 16 against a tough Baltimore Ravens Defense.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen was quiet in his return, catching all three of his targets for 27 yards in a 39-10 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. He added one rush for three yards. The Vikings only attempted five passes in the second half as they held a solid lead shortly after halftime, severely limiting Thielen's chances at a big game. Stefon Diggs was actually the only receiver to see more than three targets in the contest and Irv Smith Jr. caught the only receiving touchdown. The good news is that Thielen appeared fully healthy, and he can be utilized as a WR2 in next week's crucial tilt with the Green Bay Packers.
The Cleveland Browns Defense struggled in a 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15. In addition to coughing up 38 points, Cleveland managed just one turnover and was unable to notch a sack in the loss, despite Arizona's offense line being one of the league leaders in quarterback sacks allowed this season. Things will get much worse for Cleveland's defense in Week 16 as they will try to limit a red-hot Baltimore Ravens offense. They will be a unit to avoid in fantasy for the fantasy championship round.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks caught four receptions for 46 yards in Week 15 against the Dallas Cowboys. The four catches were all he had in the last three games entering the contest. He was third on team with eight targets. It was nice that he re-emerged as a target in the offense, but he's still not an option in fantasy against the San Francisco 49ers next week.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods had four catches for 17 yards on nine targets in Week 15. The Dallas Cowboys did their homework and made him a non-factor. He was second on the team in targets. Next week will be even more of a chore against the San Francisco 49ers. Woods will be a WR3 option in the matchup.
Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee had a game-high 12 catches for 111 yards in Week 15 against the Dallas Cowboys. He was targeted 14 times in the game, which led all players. He has 26 catches for 334 yards and one score the last three games as he has emerged as a TE1. He'll have a solid matchup against the San Francisco 49ers next week as a midrange TE1.
Los Angeles Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein had a single extra point in the blowout loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 15. He'll have a decent matchup against the San Francisco 49ers next week, and Zuerlein will be a low-end kicker option.
Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald had three tackles (one solo) in Week 15 against the Dallas Cowboys. He was unable to land a sack in the game. He'll have a midrange matchup against the San Francisco 49ers next week as a low-end DL1.
Cleveland Browns tight end Ricky Seals-Jones had a big game against his former team in Week 15. Seals-Jones caught three of his four targets for 29 yards and two touchdowns in a 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, furthering Arizona's season-long struggles against the tight end. David Njoku was a surprise pregame scratch, which helped lead to a larger role for Seals-Jones. Regardless of what happens with Njoku in Week 16, none of the Cleveland tight ends will be recommended options against a tough Baltimore Ravens Defense.
Washington Redskins wide receiver Terry McLaurin hauled in all five of the passes thrown his way on Sunday, producing 130 yards and a touchdown. McLaurin's two best fantasy outings of the year have now both come against the Eagles, so Philly is likely happy to be finished with him until 2020. The Redskins' number-one receiver has scored in back-to-back weeks, and has put up serviceable PPR numbers in three of his last four. He remains in the starting conversation for all formats, especially for those fantasy owners who've been hit with injuries to WRs lately.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs caught four of six targets for 76 yards in a resounding 39-10 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. He also added one rush for four yards in the victory. Diggs hauled in his 13th reception of at least 30 yards (most in the NFL) on a nice 46-yard catch in the fourth quarter, setting up an eight-yard Mike Boone touchdown. Diggs clearly could have had a bigger game if the Chargers had been able to keep it close, but the Vikings threw just five times in the second half with the outcome already determined. Diggs has emerged as one of the top deep threats in the NFL and should remain a high-upside WR2 in Week 16 against the Green Bay Packers.
Arizona Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones had five solo tackles and a sack against the Cleveland Browns Sunday. He has at least a half-sack in six straight games, but he has had five or more tackles in just four games this season. So it's a risk to use him against the Seattle Seahawks next week, but he'll be a low-end LB1 option.
Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker had seven tackles (five solo) in Week 15 against the Cleveland Browns. Baker has been a solid DB1 in individual defensive player leagues all season, but he has fizzled out a bit. He's good for tackles, but he doesn't do much else. He'll be a low-end DB1 against the Seattle Seahawks next week.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. caught eight of his 13 targets for 66 scoreless yards in a 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. On the plus side, Beckham's 13 targets are the most he's seen in a game all season. That being said, he failed to cash in on a dream matchup against an extremely ineffective Arizona secondary. Beckham is still stuck on just two touchdowns this season. His career-low in that category is three, which came in 2017 when he played in just four games. Beckham will be tough to trust in Week 16 against a tough Baltimore defense.
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff went 33-for-51 for 284 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in Week 15. The Rams were never in the game, and Goff was forced to throw for the entirety. Goff will face off against the San Francisco 49ers Saturday in Week 16. The 49ers haven't been as stout against opposing quarterbacks of late, and Goff will be a low-end QB1.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry turned in a slow outing in a 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15. Landry caught five of his eight targets for just 23 yards in the loss. The slow outing goes down as a big letdown after Landry had been an extremely consistent fantasy option for much of the season. The slot receiver also got into an argument with head coach Freddie Kitchens early in the fourth quarter after a missed field goal. Things won't get much easier for Landry as he draws a tough Week 16 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens.