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49ers still nipping at Browns’ heels

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick stands on the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets in Santa Clara on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick stands on the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets in Santa Clara on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016. The Associated Press

Not to minimize the entertainment value of the 49ers’ 12th straight loss of the season, but what else can you do but take cheap shots at a game that was arguably the least intriguing of the day, if not of the entire NFL season?

The 49ers lost in overtime to the New York Jets, 23-17, and it sure was exciting – even fun to watch – unless you’re really into the 49ers. In that case, it had to be as miserable as any in this horrific season for fans of the red-and-metallic gold, their team having blown a 17-3 first-half lead.

The season still has three weeks to go, and if you’re for the 49ers, the addition of overtime periods only makes it worse by making it longer.

Same thing with TV timeouts. Memo to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell: If, during the 14th week of the season, you have two teams with only four victories combined, can we please waive the commercial stoppages? The overnight ratings won’t be in until overnight, but you have to think not many flyover people watched the Jets and 49ers on Sunday. And they’re the ones who decide things in this country, you know.

It was a good day to catch an NFL game at United Soccer League prices. StubHubbers could run them down for as little as $20 at game time to see the 49ers and Jets. That is less than a third of the face value. Still, the crowd filled out seats in Levi’s Stadium the way teeth do in the mouths of Meth Nation, meaning there were lots of empty spaces at kickoff and even more of them as the game moved into the fourth quarter and overtime.

Only the Browns and the Bengals challenged San Francisco and New York for the Sunday matchup that Football America really didn’t need to watch Sunday. The Browns and Bengals also brought a total of only four wins into their game in Cleveland, same as the addition between the Jets (three) and the 49ers (one). But the Bengals entered Sunday with a tie on their record, giving them and the Browns 19 losses between them, or one fewer than the 49ers and Jets. Thus, the honor went to Levi’s Stadium on Sunday as being the site of the most meaningless game of the day.

Who knew that the Bengals’ 27-27 tie with the Washington Redskins on Oct. 30 would loom so large on the second Sunday in December?

Of the 32 NFL teams, only the Browns are stinking up Cleveland worse than the 49ers are offending Santa Clara County’s nostrils. The Browns’ 23-10 loss to the Bengals reduced their magic number to three for them to clinch the worst record in the league and guarantee themselves the first pick in next year’s NFL draft.

The Jets looked at the beginning like a team coming off a rout in a short week, which they were, having been defeated last Monday night by the Colts, 41-10. But quarterback Bryce Petty overcame an early interception to look pretty good for most of the game – way better, anyway, than Colin Kaepernick, the guy who throws the ball for the 49ers.

Despite his promising career as a political activist, Kaepernick did little Sunday to ensure his prospect as the 49ers’ quarterback of the future. He went 15 for 26 but for only 133 yards. It didn’t help much that his receivers couldn’t find much open space on their journeys into the Jets’ secondary.

The 38-second drill sure wasn’t Kaepernick’s strength Sunday. That’s how much time was left in regulation after the Jets’ Nick Folk tied the score 17-17 with a 50-yard field goal. With a chance to move the team into field-goal position, Kaepernick threw behind one receiver and over the head of another.

A few minutes earlier, with the 49ers leading and needing to hold the ball down the stretch, Kaepernick dumped off a third-down pass to running back Shaun Draughn way short of the sticks, and the crowd booed.

If 49ers coach Chip Kelly and upper management types were looking Sunday to find out who wants to play and who doesn’t, for the purposes of constructing future editions of the club, they had to come away impressed with the running of tailback Carlos Hyde. He motored Sunday on runs of 49, 43, 25, 21, 18, 11 and 10 yards, on his way to 193 yards on 17 carries. Hyde also had a touchdown catch from seven yards out.

Hyde helped the 49ers to the 17-3 first-half lead, but Kelly acknowledged he may have goofed by going too conservative and trying to sit on the lead in the second half. One call he’d like to have back was sending Hyde into the middle of the line, for no gain, on a fourth and 2 from the Jets’ 37 on the first possession of overtime. Hyde got stuffed, the ball went over to the Jets. Six plays later, so did the game, when running back Bilal Powell scored on a 19-yard touchdown run.

“That’s the play we’d been running all game,” Hyde said, of the fourth-down shortcoming. “The Jets just played good defense right there.

“They did a good job filling up all the holes where I had no lane to go. I shot ahead up in there and tried to get a push, but they did a good job there.”

Kicker Phil Dawson, maybe the 49ers’ leading Pro Bowl candidate with 17 of 18 field goals made entering the game, only went 1 for 3 from three-point range on Sunday. He hooked one from 44 and sliced another from 48 before sinking one from 47.

That’s how bad the game was for the 49ers.

Andy Furillo: 916-321-1141, @andyfurillo

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