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Mistakes Prove Costly in Loss to 49ers
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Mike McCoy liked the outcome when he challenged his players last week in Arizona. The first-year head coach wanted better special teams play, fewer turnovers, and more energy in the team's third preseason game, so he challenged his players to step up their play.
Unfortunately, some of those bad habits resurfaced during Thursday night's 41-6 loss.
"Turnovers, sacks, penalties -- too many mistakes tonight to count," said McCoy. "It's tough to win football games when you put yourself in those situations."
Thursday's preseason finale proved that theory true.
Rookie Brad Sorensen committed two interceptions deep in Chargers territory. His first interception, a quick throw to Luke Tasker that was cut off by Craig Dahl, correlated to a 40-yard field goal. His second pick was cashed in for another field goal when he threw off-balance for Seyi Ajirotutu.
Both passes, and another pick by Charlie Whitehurst in the second quarter, were the direct result of third-and-long scenarios McCoy said the team has to avoid.
The head coach also said he was proud his defense held the 49ers to six points in two tough situations, but admitted they never should've been put in those positions to start with.
"The defense responded a couple times," said McCoy. "But from watching the game, I don't think there were a whole lot of positives."
There was also a costly breakdown in special teams as well. In the third quarter, 49ers linebacker Cam Johnson broke free on a punt block attempt, hit the ball, and tripped up Mike Scifres. He recovered his own block in the Chargers end zone and turned a bad mistake into the worst kind of mistake – the kind that leads directly to touchdowns.
"Any time there's a blocked punt," said McCoy, "it's a concern."
McCoy also said he was disappointed in his team’s tackling. 49ers rookie receiver Quinton Patton caught a bubble screen in the first quarter from Colin Kaepernick that went 43 yards after a few missed tackles and a footrace. And in the fourth quarter, the Chargers gave up another easily avoidable score.
Three Chargers defenders fell down when Lavelle Hawkins caught a pass over the middle for a first down. Hawkins only needed to weave between them to score another touchdown.
Five mistakes directly led to 27 points for the 49ers. It won't be reflected in any meaningful records, but McCoy knows the final score counts when the Texans come to town in ten days.
“It’s a tough way to finish, to be honest with you,” he said. “This left a bad taste. Obviously, you never want to lose, you never feel good after a loss…We made too many mistakes – offense, defense, and special teams. We need to learn from them and move on.”