In recent days, media pundits, scribes and talking heads have come forth with various analyses and talking points related to Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers. One popular point has been latched onto and repeated ad nauseum, and rightfully so. Many have noted the fact that ‘Jimmy G’ taking the reins at quarterback has immediately elevated the play and productivity of the players around him.
Some of this elevation is empirical – it is proved by simply watching the games and by looking at the stats. Think of Trent Taylor’s immediate uptick in productivity with his 6 catch, 92 yard performance against The Chicago Bears two weeks ago. Or the fact that Marquise Goodwin has totaled 14 receptions for 205 yards over the last two games, is well on his way to a 1000 yard season, and looking for all the world like a #1, chain-moving receiver. The offense stays on the field longer. The offensive line is playing better. Garrett Celek looks like Vernon Davis in his prime (OK, maybe not quite), etc.
But Garoppolo is also having a positive impact in intangible ways – ways that can’t necessarily be seen, measured or reflected on the stat sheet. One of those ways came to light through an interesting tidbit offered up by Robert Saleh today. The 49ers Defensive Coordinator was on KNBR’s Gary and Larry show, talking with Gary Radnich and Larry Krueger about the season, the addition of Jimmy Garoppolo, and the impact it’s had on the defense. You can check it out here; the segment is listed under today’s date. At about the 7:30 mark, you will hear the following brief exchange, which I have done my best to transcribe below:
Gary Radnich: How much does having Garoppolo……does that give you another little kick in the rear end like, hey, we’ve got the most important position on the field apparently solved, so I’m just feeling better about what I’m going to do defensively now?
Robert Saleh: You know what? What we do defensively, it’s always going to be, we’re independent. We’re operating the same way every week….
Gary Radnich (interrupts as usual): But you know my point, it gives you a kick, now you’re going to have some points on the board.
Robert Saleh: Yeah…which leads to the 2nd point….what it is doing, and I’ll be honest with you, it’s, there’s a belief on the sideline, mainly with the players… you get to a point where we had a bad…they (Houston) put together two scoring touchdown drives, back to back. In the past, or earlier in the season, there would have been a deflated sideline. But, the way they are operating right now, there is a true belief that if they just get the offense the ball, they’re going to go score. And so, that little bit of juice, that little bit of energy-that belief-is actually pretty contagious, and it’s leading to a fight that lasts longer, if that makes sense…”
So there it is. Where once was despair and deflation, now is determination and grit. A fight that lasts just a little bit longer. This belief the 49ers’ players are developing in themselves is, of course, a manifestation of a young team growing together and buying into a coaching philosophy. It is also born from this group having experienced some success together after having first gone though some tough losses. More significantly, it illustrates the importance, which can’t be understated, of adding a quarterback to a team who is a good (perhaps great) player, a steady presence; a leader both in the huddle and by example, through his work ethic, approach to practice and dedication to perfecting his craft.
This young, under-talented team is having, by most statistical accounts, a bad season. But they are happy, enthusiastic and hopeful. There is simply a buzz about these players now that is, as Saleh put it, contagious. This team believes in themselves, their coaches and management. Now they believe in their quarterback. They believe that Jimmy Garoppolo has that elusive “it” factor that is so hard to identify and capture, but which is so necessary for any great quarterback to possess.
This growing belief is not only starting to show up in the stat sheets and the win column, but also on the sideline. It spurs the defense to go that extra mile, pick themselves up when they’ve had a rough couple of series, and get the ball back for their quarterback so he can get them back in the game.
San Francisco has another exciting challenge coming this weekend, a tough foe in the Tennessee Titans. It will be interesting to see if this run of success continues. Make sure you check out my game preview later in the week to get you ready for the action.
PODCAST: Weekly Wink, Trade Rumors
- Guest: Nick Winkler
- Jalen Ramsey trade rumors intensify
- Is it worth spending on offensive tackle Trent Williams?
- Could young star safety Jamal Adams hit the trade market?
- 49ers primed for a 3-0 start
PODCAST: 49ers-Steelers Crossover
- Guests: Tony Serino and Christopher Carter of Locked On Steelers
- What to expect from second-year QB Mason Rudolph, who is starting in place of injured Ben Roethlisberger
- How new Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick fits in
49ers vs. Bengals: San Francisco Week 2 Game Balls & Highlights
Game balls and highlights from the San Francisco 49ers’ 41-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2 of the 2019 NFL regular season.
On yesterday’s Locked On 49ers Podcast, host Brian Peacock provided a rundown of the Niners’ game — including game notes and key takeaways — and handed out four game balls to the San Francisco 49ers from their Week 2 blowout win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
The 49ers made a statement to the rest of the league during their second consecutive road victory to start the 2019 NFL regular season. Outside of a long garbage-time touchdown given up in the final minute of the matchup, the 49ers’ defense was dominant, finishing the game with four sacks, nine tackles-for-loss and one interception.
But despite holding the Bengals to just 25 yards on 19 rushing attempts, San Francisco’s offensive unit shined the brightest in Week 2 — which brings us to our first game ball:
49ers HC Kyle Shanahan
San Francisco’s offensive attack was nearly unstoppable in Week 2, and much of their success should be credited to 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, who called one of his best games since arriving in the Bay Area over two seasons ago. The Niners tallied 572 net yards on offense at an 8.4 yards-per-play clip, and were forced to punt the ball just once during meaningful play, prior to the final two minutes of the game.
Shanahan — the 49ers’ de facto offensive coordinator — was always one step ahead of the Bengals’ defense, which was constantly confused by the Niners’ flurry of misdirection plays. With Cincinnati’s defenders forced to play both passively and reactionary, 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo took advantage by throwing for 297 passing yards and three scores. Garoppolo executed on the field, but he had Shanahan’s superb game plan to thank for his FexEx Air Passer of the Week nomination, as well as his 131.2 passer rating and his 11.9 yards-per-pass-attempt — both of which were tops in the NFL in Week 2.
49ers RB Matt Breida
Prior to the beginning of the regular season, many analysts wrote 49ers running back Matt Breida off as either a potential change-of-pace option in San Francisco’s backfield or a player who would simply ride the bench in 2019. But just two games into the season, Breida has officially put that talk to rest by claiming his well-deserved spot at the top of the 49ers’ running back depth chart, even after fellow RB Tevin Coleman eventually returns from injury.
Breida was electric on Sunday as he tallied 121 rushing yards on only 12 carries, and added 11 yards through the air on one reception. The former undrafted free agent may never be a 25-carry feature back, but it’s hard to ignore a runner who averages over 10 yards-per-touch. Breida’s outstanding Week 2 performance was highlighted by a 34-yard gain on a third-and-short run, where he looked a lot more like Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders than a bench player who should be relegated to the sidelines:
— Chris Wilson (@cgawilson) September 16, 2019
49ers Offensive Line
Although Breida has the speed and agility necessary to break off long runs after making defenders miss, he surely didn’t mind running through some of the gaping holes the 49ers’ offensive line provided on Sunday. Breida wasn’t the only beneficiary of San Francisco’s big men up front, as the 49ers’ trio of running backs graded out as the NFL’s top unit of the week by Pro Football Focus (PFF). Recent practice-squad RB Jeff Wilson found the end zone for a pair of scores in the contest, and dual-threat running back Raheem Mostert followed his blockers on long runs and screen passes en route to a spot on PFF’s “NFL Team of the Week” for Week 2:
#49ers RB Raheem Mostert @RMos_8Ball, LB Kwon Alexander @kwon and EDGE Ronald Blair @superblair are all featured in @PFF‘s NFL Team of the Week. The @49ers‘ running backs also graded out as the #NFL‘s top group of RBs in Week 2. https://t.co/zbfzmMtEs0
— Chris Wilson (@cgawilson) September 18, 2019
It was a near-perfect day for the Niners’ offensive line, as they also kept Garoppolo’s jersey clean for the vast majority of the game. But a dark cloud fell over the group in the third quarter of the team’s Week 2 victory, when left tackle Joe Staley sustained a fractured left fibula which will keep the 49ers’ top lineman out of action for approximately six to eight weeks.
49ers LB Kwon Alexander
Last week, linebacker Kwon Alexander received a game ball from Shanahan in the 49ers’ locker room after the team’s 31-17 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, despite his early exit from his Niners debut. Alexander was ejected from the contest when his helmet made contact with the helmet of former teammate Jameis Winston, when the quarterback awkwardly went to the ground at the end of a third-down scramble. In the limited time prior to his questionable ejection, Alexander looked like the player Shanahan and general manager John Lynch hoped to sign, as the 25-year-old linebacker flew around the field making plays and hyping up his teammates.
Last Sunday, Alexander earned his 49ers game ball for his leadership in the locker room and his passion for the game. This Sunday, Alexander earned Locked On 49ers game ball for his leadership in the locker room, his passion for the game and his production on the field. Alexander not only brought the same level of intensity to Cincinnati, but the linebacker was also one of the best — and most productive — players on the field in Week 2. With a key interception, three defended passes and six tackles, Alexander earned PFF “NFL Team of the Week” honors, and our final game ball of the week:
— Chris Wilson (@cgawilson) September 16, 2019
Listen to Locked On 49ers host Brian Peacock’s review of the San Francisco 49ers’ Week 2 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals — including game notes and key takeaways from the Niners’ second matchup of the 2019 NFL regular season — on yesterday’s Rapid React podcast:
San Francisco 49ers2 weeks ago
PODCAST: Week 1 Win vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
San Francisco 49ers4 days ago
PODCAST: Rapid React Week 2 Win in Cincinnati
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PODCAST: Weekly Wink, Youngstown Layover, Deebo the Starter
San Francisco 49ers1 week ago
PODCAST: 49ers-Bengals Crossover