The San Francisco 49ers got off to a hot start Thursday night against Tennessee, moving the ball up and down the field and holding the Titans to just 55 first-half yards. But the Niners collapsed in the final two quarters, watching a 10-0 lead turn into a 20-17 defeat.
Mistakes piled up as quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw two interceptions. The first was in the red zone when the Niners were in a position to go up big early. The second came early in the third quarter, which led to the game-tying Titans TD. And the defense couldn't cover A.J. Brown, giving up a career-high 11 catches, 145 yards and a TD to the star receiver.
Outside of Deebo Samuel -- 9 catches, 159 yards -- the Niners' key contributors offered a dud.
"I think our best was needed tonight and our best players didn't play our best game," 49ers tight end George Kittle said, via NBC Sports Bay Area. "Deebo obviously played really well, and just as an offense we have to not make mistakes."
Kittle was held without a target for the final three quarters of the game, earning just two catches for 21 yards. The run game combined for just 83 total yards. Star pass rusher Nick Bosa was disruptive at times, but against backup Tennessee linemen couldn't wrangle a sack. The 49ers defense did not force a turnover against the Titans, their first game without a takeaway since Week 9 versus Arizona (1-4 when the defense has zero takeaways).
Then there was Jimmy G. The QB put up 322 yards passing with a TD and two interceptions, but his mistakes were glaring. The second-half interception was a horrific decision, and he missed Brandon Aiyuk on a key fourth-down play.
"Some good, some bad," Garoppolo said. "I'm trying to go through it in my head. We had a chance. ... We got off to a good start and got the lead like we wanted to. We just hit a lull in the middle there and if we don't hit that lull, I think it's a totally different game."
The Niners could have put the game away in the first half, netting 191 yards and 14 first downs through two quarters while holding Tennessee to just 55 yards and three first downs. Then it slipped away.
"All three phases weren't good enough, obviously," coach Kyle Shanahan said. "I thought they had a chance to have a special game, especially how they played in the first half."
The loss dropped the Niners to 8-7. While they continue to cling to the No. 6 seed in the NFC, the loss put them just half a game up on the Vikings, Eagles and Saints, who all sit at 7-7 heading into the weekend.