Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press
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LOS ANGELES — Fortunately, all bad things must come to an end, too.
The 49ers’ 2018 season, which qualifies as a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad thing, mercifully wheezed to the finish line Sunday.
The ending was painful and predictable: The 49ers, who entered with the NFL’s worst turnover margin, had three interceptions and lost a fumble in the first 18 minutes and were trounced, 48-32, by the NFC West champion Rams at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Before detailing all the bad stuff, there was some good news: Tight end George Kittle capped his breakout season by landing in the NFL record book.
Kittle finished with 1,377 receiving yards, which is the most by a tight end in NFL history. Kittle broke the record in style with a 43-yard catch-and-run touchdown with just over two minutes left.
Kittle broke the record of 1,336 yards established earlier in the afternoon by Kansas City’s Travis Kelce. On Sunday, Kittle and Kelce both surpassed the previous record of 1,327 yards set by Rob Gronkowski in 2011.
More good news? The loss allowed the 49ers (4-12) to secure the No. 2 pick in the 2019 draft.
Now, onto what happened on the penultimate day of 2018.
The 49ers arrived with a spare-parts offense and it immediately fell apart.
Their first seven offensive plays included a fumble by fullback Kyle Juszczyk and an interception by Nick Mullens. The miscues led to touchdown drives of 7 and 13 yards, allowing the Rams to have a 14-0 lead despite having 19 yards.
The game unofficially ended early in the second quarter with the 49ers’ fourth turnover: Mullens’ short toss intended for wideout Richie James was easily picked off by linebacker Cory Littlejohn, who wasn’t touched on a 19-yard return that gave Los Angeles a 21-3 lead.
It was the last of the 49ers’ turnovers, which led to 21 points.
If this sounds vaguely familiar, there’s a reason for that: The game mirrored the 49ers’ 39-10 loss to the Rams in October when they had four turnover that led to 24 points.
It was a fitting way to end the season that was historic when it came to turnovers, or the lack thereof.
The 49ers finished with a turnover differential (minus-25) that matched the 10th worst in NFL history.
They also set the NFL record for the fewest takeaways in season with seven, shattering the previous mark of 11 held by four teams.
They managed to establish a league record for fewest interceptions (two), topping the previous mark of four held by the 2008 Lions, who finished 0-16.
Finally, they became the second team in history to not have an interception from a cornerback, joining the 2005 Raiders.
Mullens had a forgettable performance, but some of it can be excused by his second-string supporting cast.
Thanks to injuries, the 49ers’ No. 1 wide receiver was Kendrick Bourne, a 2017 undrafted free agent, and their starting running back was undrafted rookie Jeff Wilson, who left in the first quarter with a shoulder injury.
In addition, Mullens didn’t receive much assistance from his intact starting offensive line: He was dropped for three sacks and took nine hits, including shots as he was in mid-throw on two of his interceptions.
Mullens completed 23 of 33 passes for 282 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/49ers/article/49ers-season-ends-with-ugly-loss-to-Rams-but-13498983.php.