49ers hold off Rams, 24-16, behind Jimmy Garoppolo’s 3 TDs; strong defense

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) gets the football away as he’s being rushed by the Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald (99) and nose tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day (69) in the first half of Sun Oct 18, 2020 at Levis Stadium in Santa Clara (AP News photo)

By Joe Hawkes
Staff Writer

SANTA CLARA, Calif — In a game that many viewed was a must-win to salvage their season, the San Francisco 49ers was able to outlast the visiting Los Angeles Rams, 24-16, on NBC’s Sunday Night Football behind three TDs from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the first half and a strong effort from the defense.

It’s the first win for the 49ers at Levi’s Stadium this season, after dropping their first three home games to the Arizona Cardinals, Philadelphia Eagles and the Miami Dolphins.

The 49ers (3-3) jumped on the Rams early, scoring touchdowns on three of their first four possessions. On San Francisco’s first possession, Garoppolo engineered a 6-play, 76-yard drive that was capped off by a 6-yard pass to wide receiver Deebo Samuel for the TD to put the 49ers up 7-0 in the first quarter.

Garoppolo was 4-for-4 for 69 yards on the opening drive.

After the 49ers’ defense forced the Rams to punt on their opening possession of the game, San Francisco took a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter on Garopplo’s second TD of the game. Garoppolo would find tight end George Kittle for a a 44-yard score after the 49ers faced a 4th and 2 from the Rams 44-yard line.

Kittle’s score punctuated a 10-play, 87-yard drive in 6:08 for the 49ers, who emphasized getting the football out of Garoppolo’s hands quickly and relied heavily on the running game which took a hit when running back Raheem Mostert left the game early in the third quarter with an ankle injury.

Mostert was off to a good start, carrying the ball 17 times for 65 yards before his exit.

Kittle led all receivers with seven catches for 109 yards and the TD, while Samuel finished six catches for 66 yards and a score.

After quarterback Jared Goff found wide receiver Robert Woods in the middle of the end zone on a 10-yard TD to get the Rams on the scoreboard and cut San Francisco’s lead to 14-6, following a missed extra point, the 49ers would put together another scoring drive shortly before halftime.

Garoppolo engineered a 13-play, 75-yard drive that chewed up 7:16 and found rookie wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk for a 2-yard score that gave the 49ers a commanding 21-6 lead.

Garoppolo was 17 of 21 for 215 yards and 3 TDs in the first half. Offensively, the 49ers had their way with the Rams, racking up 18 first downs and 291 yards of total offense in the first 30 minutes of the game.

Garoppolo, who was benched after the first half in last week’s 43-17 embarrassing loss to the Miami Dolphins at home in which he completed just 7 of 17 passing for 77 yards, two interceptions and a career-low 15.7 passer rating; bounced back this week with a better showing by completing 23 of 33 passes for 268 yards, 3 TDs and a 124.3 passer rating.

Oh yeah, he improves to 4-0 against the Rams all-time.

Coming into the game, the talk leading up to the showdown against the Rams was if Garoppolo could show that he’s still the right quarterback for the 49ers long term and could San Francisco’s much maligned offensive line withstand the dominating force that is perennial Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald.

San Francisco’s offensive line, which has been a target of criticism the last two weeks as they surrendered 23 quarterback hits and 10 sacks in the last two games, kept Donald off Garoppolo the entire night.

For the game, Donald registered just one solo tackle and one quarterback pressure after recording four of the Rams’ eight sacks against the Washington Football Team last week in Los Angeles’ 30-10 win on the road.

In the second half, the Rams (4-2) converted their first possession into a 42-yard field goal by kicker Samuel Sloman to cut the 49ers’ lead to 21-9.

Following back-to-back 3-and-outs by the 49ers, Goff drove the Rams down to the 49ers’ 2-yard line and looked like Los Angeles would finish off the drive with a TD but Goff’s pass intended for wide receiver Josh Reynolds was intercepted in the end zone by cornerback Jason Verrett.

Verrett thwarted a golden scoring opportunity for Goff and the Rams that could’ve changed the tenor of the game.

Goff finished 19 of 38 for 198 yards, 2 TDs and one interception as 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh mixed up coverages that didn’t allow Goff and the Rams’ offense to get comfortable on Sunday night.

The 49ers added a 49-yard field goal by Robbie Gould to push their lead up to 24-9 in the fourth quarter, but the Rams wouldn’t go down quietly.

On the Rams’ next drive, Goff hooked up with Reynolds for a 40-yard TD over cornerback Emmaunel Moseley. Moseley was called for a defensive pass interference call, but the Rams declined the penalty making the score 24-16.

San Francisco’s defense held the Rams to 4 of 12 on third downs and 311 yards of total offense. Much of those yards came on the Rams’ final drive of the game. Moseley, along with linebackers Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw paced the defense with seven tackles each.

The schedule gets more daunting for San Francisco with games against the New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, and Rams again in the next five weeks.

For at least one night, the 49ers have quieted the skeptics with an impressive win over their divisional rivals from Southern California.

 

Eagles stun 49ers on the road, 25-20, to earn first win of the season

The Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Genard Avery (58) and nose tackle Javon Hargrave (93) sack San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens in the first half for what would be a rough after noon for San Francisco at Levis Stadium Santa Clara on Sun Oct 4, 2020 (AP News photo)

By Joe Hawkes
Staff Writer

SANTA CLARA, Calif — Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles traveled to the west coast winless.

They left the Golden State with their first win of the season and in first-place in the hapless NFC East after taking down the reigning NFC champions, the San Francisco 49ers, 25-20 to cap off Sunday’s Week 4 action on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.

“First place sounds really good, but we have a long way ahead of us,” Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said after the game. “Only the first quarter of the season is done. We got a long road ahead. These guys don’t quit. It’s a resilient group.”

Wentz’s 42-yard TD pass to third string wide receiver Travis Fulgham with 5:50 left in the game proved to be the game winner for Philadelphia, who were playing playing without their top three wide receivers and backup tight end Dallas Goedert.

Following a botch snap by rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts that sent the Eagles to second-and-18 from the 42-yard line, Fulgham was able to get a step on backup cornerback Dontae Johnson and Wentz dropped the pass perfectly in Fulgham’s hands as he crossed the goal line to give the Eagles an 18-14 lead.

On the very next possession for the 49ers, backup quarterback Nick Mullens, who started his second-straight game for the injured Jimmy Garoppolo, threw an interception that linebacker Alex Singleton returned for a TD that stretched Philadelphia’s lead to 25-14.

Wentz finished the game completing 18-of-28 passes for 193 yards, a TD and a league-leading seventh interception.

“It’s a huge relief. Big team win,” Wentz said. “It’s fun to see these young guys step up and make plays in big moments like this.”

With the loss, the 49ers (2-2) have lost their first two home games of the year. San Francisco lost to the visiting Arizona Cardinals, 24-20, in Week 1.

Mullens was responsible for all three of San Francisco’s turnovers on the night, throwing a red zone interception in the second quarter and losing a fumble on a strip sack by cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc that defensive tackle Malik Jackson recovered that setup the go-ahead score for Philadelphia.

“We had plenty of opportunities. I really just didn’t execute,” Mullens said. “The way I’m feeling is pretty black and white right now. I just didn’t execute. That’s what it comes down to. Three turnovers, 14 points off turnovers. That’s really about it.”

Mullens completed 18-of-26 passes for 200 yards, one TD and two interceptions before being benched in the fourth quarterback and replaced by third-string quarterback C.J. Beathard.

Beathard engineered a late TD drive that and moved the 49ers to the Philadelphia 33-yard line, before his desperation heave into the end zone came up short and ending San Francisco’s comeback attempt.

Beathard completed 14-of-19 passes for 138 yards.

Garoppolo, who has missed the last two games due to an ankle injury, is expected to return next week as the 49ers will host the Miami Dolphins.

Rookie wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk scored the 49ers first TD of the day, a 38-yard rush on a lateral from Mullens in the first quarter, while tight end George Kittle returned in a major way after missing the last two games, registered a career-high 15 catches for 183 yards a TD to lead the 49ers.

Running back Jerick McKinnon led San Francisco in rushing, racking up 54 yards on 14 carries and a TD from 1-yard out and was second on the team with seven catches for 43 yards for the game.

As an offense, the 49ers dominated the Eagles in total yards (417 to 174), first-downs (25 to 18) and total plays (70 to 59), but just couldn’t get the job done tonight against a hungry and desperate Philadelphia squad looking for its first win of the year.

“After this game, we wanted to be dog tired,” defensive back Jalen Mills said. “We had to give everything we had to get this win.”

Philadelphia came into Sunday’s games with no takeaways on defense, but racked up all three takeaways from poor decisions from Mullens. The Eagles had one takeaway all season, and that was on special teams.

The injuries to San Francisco’s defense continues to pile up, as defensive lineman Ziggy Ansah left the game in the first-half with a biceps injury that head coach Kyle Shanahan fears could be season-ending; while nickel cornerback K’Waun Williams left the game in the fourth quarter with a knee injury.

Ansah will have an MRI tomorrow to determine the severity of his biceps injury.

 

 

49ers hold off Jets with 31-13 victory, but are decimated by injuries

By Joe Hawkes
Staff Writer

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Running back Raheem Mostert got the 49ers off to a promising start on the day, running for a 80-yard touchdown on the game’s first play from scrimmage and Jimmy Garoppolo tossed a pair of TDs — before the two of them sat out the second half with injuries — as San Francisco picked up their first win of the season holding off the New York Jets, 31-13, at MetLife Stadium as the team was gutted by a rash of injuries on Sunday afternoon.

Facing injury issues entering the game with tight end George Kittle (knee) not making the trip, defensive end Dee Ford (neck) ruled out and cornerback Richard Sherman (calf) and wide receiver Deebo Samuel (foot) both on short-term injured reserve, San Francisco (1-1) lost Garopplo to an ankle injury and Mostert to an injured knee in the first half. Both players left the field shortly before halftime.

Mostert suffered a mild sprain to his medial collateral ligament (MCL), and Garoppolo suffered a high ankle sprain that will likely keep him out of action for a few weeks. According to NBC Sports 49ers Insider Matt Maiocco, Garoppolo isn’t expected to be available for Week 3’s game against the New York Giants at the same venue.

Garoppolo sustained the injury in the first quarter after a sack by defensive tackle Quinnen Williams after his leg got caught in the turf. On the sideline, you could see that Garoppolo was in obvious pain.

Mostert had eight carries for 92 yards and a touchdown before he was injured. His 80-yard TD run on the game’s first play hit a max speed of 23.09 MPH, which is the fastest max speed for a ball carrier on a play from scrimmage over the last five seasons according to Next Gen Stats.

The more serious injuries came along the defensive line, where defensive end Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas were carted off the field after apparent knee injuries that the team “fears” are torn anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL).

With a little more than five minutes left in the first quarter, Bosa was engaged with Jets tight end Trevon Vesco on a running play and his left leg buckled as he attempted to get off the block and tackle running back Frank Gore.

Bosa tried to sit up as a busy 49ers medical personnel came out to check on him. A cart came on to the field and carried Bosa to the locker room. The team would rule out last season’s NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year early in the second quarter.

A few plays later, the 49ers suffered another huge blow to its defense when defensive tackle Solomon Thomas injured his knee. He too was carted off the field and rushed to the locker room. San Francisco ruled him out for the second half.

Even with the team’s injury situation reaching at a critical state, the team didn’t panic against the woeful Jets (0-2).

After the Jets trimmed San Francisco’s lead to 7-3 behind a Sam Ficken 41-yard field goal, a noticeably limping Garoppolo drove the 49ers to another TD, hitting the aforementioned Reed on an 18-yard hookup that put San Francisco up 14-3. Reed’s first score with the 49ers capped off a 14-play, 67-yard drive in 8:44, where Reed leaped over a diving Marcus Maye to get into the end zone.

San Francisco’s defense thwarted a promising Jets’ possession, stopping the Jets on fourth-and-1 from the 49ers’ 20-yard line with linebacker Fred Warner and company stuffed running back Josh Adams for no gain.

Garoppolo would take San Francisco down the field again, capping off a 13-play, 80-yard drive in 3:30 with a 4-yard toss to Reed to put the 49ers up comfortable, 21-3, with 11 seconds in the second quarter. The drive continued after Jets defensive end Henry Anderson was called for a roughing-the-passer penalty where it appeared that the Jets stopped San Francisco on third-and-8.

Garoppolo completed 14-of-16 passes for 131 yards and the two TDs in the first half before backup Nick Mullens took over in the second half.

Mullens, who doesn’t take any first-team reps in practice during the week, looked shell-shocked on his first drive. But running back Jerick McKinnon had a 55-yard run on third-and-31 at the San Francisco 11-yard line. The run would setup a 46-yard field goal by kicker Robbie Gould that gave the 49ers a 24-3 lead in the third quarter.

Per the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time a team converted a third down on that long of a run was Minnesota in 1999 when running back Leroy Hoard rushed for 53 yards on third-and-37 against the Denver Broncos.

Mullens finished 8-for-11 for 71 yards and an interception where the pass bounced off the hands of running back Tevin Coleman that the Jets took back to the San Francisco 22-yard line, but the Jets settled for a 25-yard field goal by Ficken to make the score 24-6.

McKinnon scored his second TD of the season on a 16-yard rush in the fourth quarter that gave San Francisco a 31-6 lead. McKinnon finished with 77 yards on three carries and a TD.

After a horrendous showing on third- and fourth-down last week against the Arizona Cardinals where they only converted 2-of-13 attempts in a 24-20 loss in Week 1, the 49ers went 7-of-13 on third down against the Jets in Week 2. It was a better showing by the 49ers offense that racked up 359 yards of total offense and led in time of possession (32:13 to 27:47) this week against a poor Jets defense.

Even with all of the injuries suffered to its defense in the game, San Francisco limited the Jets to 277 yards of total offense and held them to 5-of-14 on third down.

The Jets added a late TD, when quarterback San Darnold connected with wide receiver Braxton Berrios on a 30-yard completion with 1:23 remaining in the game making the score, 31-13. Darnold finished 21-of-32 for 179 yards and no turnovers.

Instead of flying back to the west coast, the 49ers will be staying at a resort in West Virginia as they prepare to take on the New York Giants.

The Giants (0-2) lost to the Chicago Bears 17-13 at Soldier Field on Sunday, but that’s not the big story. Star running back Saquon Barkley was carted off the field early in the second quarter with an apparent knee injury. Barkley’s status for next week’s game is unclear.

Second-year quarterback Daniel Jones completed 25-of-40 passes for 241 yards and an interception for the Giants. Jones was sacked four times by a stingy Bears defense on the day.

49ers add Sanu to bolster receiving corps

The San Francisco 49ers reached a one year deal with wide receiver Mohamed Sanu who is expected to start working out with the team at the team’s facility in Santa Clara on Wednesday (Rutgers Football image from @RFootball) 

By Joe Hawkes
Staff Writer

With wide receiver still a glaring need amid injuries and inconsistency, the San Francisco 49ers have signed veteran wide receiver Mohamed Sanu to a 1-year deal on Tuesday agent Mike McCartney announced on Twitter.

NBC Sports Bay Area San Francisco 49ers Insider Matt Maiocco reported that McCartney said that Sanu will arrive at the team’s facility in Santa Clara on Wednesday for his first round of coronavirus testing. If cleared, Sanu’s first day on the practice field would be Friday.

With just three healthy wide receivers on their 53-man roster: Kendrick Bourne, Dante Pettis and Trent Taylor, the bringing in Sanu seems logical after head coach Kyle Shanahan intimated on Monday during the team’s press conference.

“We’ll see how these injuries go, but I love Sanu,” Shanahan said Monday. “He’s a hell of a player. So him being out there is always a possibility. We’ll look into everything we have, though.

“But I wouldn’t rule that out at all. He’s available, and he’s definitely a guy I really respect, and I think everyone in this league respects. So we’ll see how it goes this week.”

Sanu was released by the New England Patriots before the start of the regular season.

San Francisco almost acquired Sanu, 31, from New England last season at the trade deadline. The Patriots acquired Sanu from the Atlanta Falcons for a second-round draft pick. Sanu caught 26 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown in eight games for the Patriots.

In eight NFL seasons, Sanu has 403 receptions for 4,507 yards and 26 touchdowns. He played one season in Atlanta (2016) when Shanahan was the Falcons’ offensive coordinator.

San Francisco (0-1), looks to get into the win column for 2020 this Sunday when they travel to east to take on the New York Jets (0-1) at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.

Both teams are coming off loses to division rivals in Week 1, with the 49ers losing to the Arizona Cardinals, 24-20, in their home opener at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA.

The Jets fell to the Buffalo Bills, 27-17, at Bills Stadium in Orchard Park, NY.

 

Cardinals,Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins spoil 49ers’ home opener with 24-20 victory

By Joe Hawkes

SANTA CLARA, Calif — The San Francisco 49ers’ “Revenge Tour” for 2020 didn’t get off to the best start, as the Arizona Cardinals slipped by San Francisco, 24-20, in Week 1 of the NFL season on Sunday afternoon.

Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, whom the Cardinals acquired in the offseason via a trade with the Houston Texans, dominated a usually formidable 49ers defense for much of the game. Hopkins finished with a career-high 14 catches for 151 yards in his debut, set up running back Kenyan Drake’s 1-yard go-ahead TD with 5:03 left in the fourth quarter.

Quarterback Kyler Murray, last season’s Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year, picked up where he left off, threw for 230 yards and a touchdown and ran for 90 yards and another score to help the Cardinals (1-0) overcome a pair of fourth quarter deficits to the reigning NFC champion 49ers (0-1) in an empty Levi’s Stadium in smoky temperatures.

There were growing concerns all week that the game could be postponed because of poor air quality from fires from across Northern California. The Air Quality Index remained below the 200 threshold and the game kicked off on time.

Murray completed 26-of-40 passes and was sacked twice on the day. Murray actually rushed for 100 yards before two kneeldowns at the end for minus-10 yards.

49ers running back Jerick McKinnon caught a 5-yard TD pass from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in his first game since Dec. 31, 2017, to give San Francisco a 20-17 lead with 8:38 left in the fourth quarter before Murray engineered Arizona’s comeback.

Murray’s 33-yard connection to Hopkins to the 49ers’ 1-yard line would setup Drake’s score on the very next play, putting the Cardinals up for good.

San Francisco’s defense registered just one sack by defensive end Kerry Hyder and one interception by safety Jaquiski Tartt. It was San Francisco’s first recorded interception by a safety since Oct. 28, 2018, coincidentally, by Tartt against the Cardinals when he picked off from first-round pick Josh Rosen.

Tartt recorded the interception in the second quarter off a tip pass from second-year starting linebacker Dre Greenlaw.

The defense looked extremely gassed in the fourth quarter after Arizona went on a 14-play, 94-yard drive that covered 6:48 minutes that resulted in a 22-yard TD run by Murray that gave the Cardinals their first lead of the game at 17-13 with 10:26 remaining.

Garoppolo, who finished 19-of-33 passing for 259 yards and two TD’s, moved San Francisco to the Cardinals’ 16-yard line before throwing an incomplete pass to wide receiver Trent Taylor on fourth-and-5 that sealed the 49ers’ fate.

San Francisco jumped out to a 10-0 first quarter lead, highlighted by a 76-yard TD catch from running back Raheem Mostert from Garoppolo. Mostert’s score reached a maximum speed of 22.73 MPH, per NFL Next Gen Stats.

It was the fastest TD since Tyreek Hill in 2016.

As a whole, San Francisco struggled on offense against a very improved Cardinals defense for much of the game. The 49ers couldn’t convert on third down, going 2-for-11 on the day and got nothing from its wide receiver group.

Taylor (5), Kendrick Bourne (5) and Dante Pettis garnered just 11 targets while mustering just 41 yards among them.

By that same token, fullback Kyle Juszczyk had one catch but that went for 41 yards in the fourth quarter.

Tight end George Kittle, the 49ers unquestioned best offensive player, caught four passes for 44 yards in the first half before leaving late in the second quarter for the locker room with a scary looking leg injury. Kittle jumped high for a pass from Garoppolo on the left side of the field. The All-Pro tight end was tackled around his waist by Cardinals safety Budda Baker just as he landed to the turf.

It appeared that Kittle’s left knee just hyperextend. Kittle did return in the second-half, but was a virtual non-factor in the offense.

San Francisco looks to get into the win column next week as they travel to New York for their first of two games in the Big Apple, when they take on the Jets in Week 2.

The Jets (0-1) fell to their AFC East rivals, the Buffalo Bills (1-0), 27-17 earlier in the day.

Nothing went well for the Jets, who opened the game with three three-and-outs, combined for 23 yards of offense and one first down on their five possessions, and trailed 21-0 before anyone blinked.

Jets quarterback Sam Darnold completed 21-of-35 passes for 215 yards, one touchdown, one interception and was sacked three times.

Wide receiver Jamison Crowder had himself a game, hauling seven catches for 115 yards which included a 69-yard TD catch from Darnold that briefly cut the Bills’ lead to 21-10 with 5:10 left in the third quarter.

 

 

 

Loaded with primetime games, SF 49ers face tough road in 2020

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo prepares to throw in Super Bowl LIV as Garoppolo will lead the 49ers in the 2020 season that is if the NFL gets the nod to open up the season. (si.com file photo)

By Joe Hawkes
SRS Contributor

While its still unknown if the sports landscape will return amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL continues to operate as normal, officially releasing its 2020 regular-season schedule for all 32 teams Thursday.

Time to mark your calendars 49ers fans. (Hopefully).

See full schedule here: https://www.49ers.com/schedule/

After losing in heartbreaking fashion to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV in Miami back in February after holding a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, the San Francisco 49ers’ road back to the Super Bowl will be a daunting one.

San Francisco will tussle with both the NFC and AFC East squads on top of their NFC West opponents in 2020.

The reigning NFC Champions will have six games against 2019 playoff teams, including the Seattle Seahawks (twice), New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, and New England Patriots. San Francisco has the fourth-toughest schedule in 2020, with their upcoming opponents were a collective 134-120-2 (.527 winning percentage) in 2019.

Expectations are sky-high for San Francisco heading into the season after a 13-win campaign last year.

All eyes will be glued on 49ers starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in 2020 to see if he can follow up an impressive 2019 season. In his first full year as a starter, Garoppolo shined as the top signal-caller for San Francisco, throwing for 3,978 yards with 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

With rumors swirling that general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan were contemplating signing Tom Brady, San Francisco decided that they’re all in with the 28-year-old Garoppolo for the long haul.

For the first time since 2017, the 49ers will open up the season at Levi’s®Stadium with the Arizona Cardinals rolling into town. In the opener, San Francisco will get an up close and personal look at the Cardinals’ biggest offseason acquisition in wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Arizona acquired the dynamic playmaker from the Houston Texans, in exchange for running back David Johnson with each team picking up multiple draft picks too.

This year marks the first time since 2016 that the 49ers will kickoff the season against a divisional opponent.

San Francisco will be prominently featured in primetime, playing four of the five games at Levi’s®Stadium:

  • Week 4 against Philadelphia Eagles (Sunday Night Football)
    • The 49ers last faced the Eagles in 2017, in which San Francisco were throttled 33-10 in Philadelphia.
  • Week 6 against Los Angeles Rams (Sunday Night Football)
    • San Francisco and Rams meet for the second-straight year on Sunday Night Football. The 49ers won both meetings last year, including their last-minute victory in Week 16 that saw San Francisco convert back-to-back 3rd-and-16 completions from Garoppolo to engineer the win.
  • Week 9 against Green Bay Packers (Thursday Night Football)
    • Green Bay will make their third-straight trip to Levi’s®Stadium within a calendar year. The Packers and 49ers met twice last year, in Week 12, and again in the NFC Championship game, with the 49ers winning 37-20 and locking up their first Super Bowl appearance since 2013.
  • Week 13 against Buffalo Bills (Monday Night Football)
    • The Buffalo Bills, who have high expectations of their own heading into the 2020 season, will make their first-ever trip to Levi’s®Stadium. The Bills made a splash in the offseason, trading a bevy of picks to the Minnesota Vikings for electric wide receiver Stefon Diggs to help third-year quarterback Josh Allen’s development as a passer.
  • Week 15 at Dallas Cowboys (Sunday Night Football)
    • Talk about two organizations that aren’t strangers to one another. Both organizations have won five Super Bowls and feel that this is the year that they both can win their sixth. With this matchup late in the year, this could be a potential playoff preview or at the least, a playoff spot will be up for grabs.

San Francisco has three separate stands of back-to-back road matchups, starting with Weeks 2 and 3.

The 49ers are set to face the New York Jets then New York Giants at Met Life Stadium in consecutive weeks, marking just the second time in team history that San Francisco is taking on the Jets and Giants in consecutive weeks (Weeks 13-14 of 1986) and the first time doing so on the road in back-to-back weeks.

Last year, the 49ers stayed on the east coast in between road games against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Week 1) and the Cincinnati Bengals (Week 2), and the Baltimore Ravens (Week 13), and the New Orleans Saints (Week 14).

In Week 7, San Francisco will head to the Northeast to take on the New England Patriots in Jimmy Garoppolo’s return to Foxborough. The following week, San Francisco will travel to the Pacific Northwest for their first matchup against NFC West rival, the Seattle Seahawks.

Unlike last season’s Week 4, this year the 49ers’ bye comes in Week 11, which could be vital for San Francisco who could be fighting for playoff positioning. This marks the third time in four seasons that San Francisco have had their Bye in Week 11.

Following the Bye, the 49ers will evenly split their final six contests between home and road trips and a final meeting against each of their division rivals.

For the second-straight year, the 49ers and Seahawks face each other in the season finale. Week 17 could prove to have playoff implications again, similar to 2019 where the 49ers clinched the NFC West in Seattle thanks to then-rookie linebacker Dre Greenlaw’s goal line stop on Seahawks tight end Jacob Hollister that perserved a 26-21 victory.

The 49ers will open and close the regular-season at home for the first time since 2016.

Reports: 49ers acquire Redskins offensive tackle Trent Williams for two picks

Trent Williams joins the San Francisco 49ers after playing in Washington he joins the 49ers as of Saturday’s news (bleacherreport.com file photo) 

By Joe Hawkes
SRS Contributor

The saga between the Washington Redskins and perennial Pro Bowl offensive tackle Trent Williams appears to have finally ended, with Washington agreeing to send Williams to the San Francisco 49ers according to Williams’ agent, Vincent Taylor on Saturday.

“The time has come to part ways,” Taylor said in a statement. “Trent Williams is ready to get back to competing in the NFL and is glad to be a part of a great organization like the San Francisco 49ers.”

The Redskins will send Williams to San Francisco in exchange for a fifth-round pick in this year’s NFL draft, and a third-round pick in 2021, league sources confirmed to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

NFL Media and ESPN first reported the details of the completed trade.

Sources also confirmed to Schefter that Williams and the 49ers are expected to restructure the final year of his contract, in which he’s scheduled to make $12.5 million this season.

Williams. 31, has played every game at left tackle since entering the NFL in 2010 as Washington’s No. 4 overall pick. He played his first four NFL seasons with Mike Shanahan as coach and Kyle Shanahan as offensive coordinator.

Now that Williams is in the fold, it appears that left offensive tackle Joe Staley’s time with the 49ers is coming to an end after 13 seasons.

On Monday, 49ers general manager John Lynch said he was confident that Staley would return for his 14th season in 2020 when he spoke to local reporters. But those who watched the 49ers closely in 2019 saw that Staley was breaking down and maybe considering calling it a career.

But according to an additional report by Schefter on Saturday that Staley is expected to retire do to health concerns, which allowed the trade for Williams to take shape:

Who can forget following San Francisco’s close Week 17 win in Seattle, Staley left the field in tears?

“I was super emotional after that game,” Staley said in Seattle. “Been a long time, haven’t won here since 2011. I was overcome with emotion on the field. I sprinted into the tunnel because I was getting choked up.”

Staley, who hardly missed games during his career, missed a career-high nine games in 2019 due to injuries, including a broken leg and a broken and dislocated finger.

49ers draft two players Thursday that could help right away in Round One

Defensive tackle of the San Francisco 49ers Javon Kinlaw who was selected out of South Carolina seen here during his collegiate days (AP Photo)

By Joe Hawkes
SRS Contributor

Armed with two first-round picks (No. 13 and No. 31 overall) heading into the 2020 NFL Draft, the talk that the San Francisco 49ers would select a play-making wide receiver with their first pick was a forgone conclusion.

After swapping the 13th pick with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (who was selecting 14th overall), the 49ers selected South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw on Thursday night. San Francisco also acquired the 117th pick (fourth-round) in the deal from the Vikings, although they also had to surrender a seventh-rounder to complete the deal.

The 49ers have now drafted a defensive lineman in the first round in five of the past six drafts.

Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh has a new weapon to deploy on opposing offenses.

Kinlaw can help San Francisco right away, filling a void that was left after the team decided to trade defensive lineman DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts last month. In exchange for Buckner, the 49ers received the No. 13 overall pick from the Colts.

A native of Trinidad, Kinlaw is still a newbie to the game of football. Kinlaw spent most of his childhood homeless and moved around often. After playing in junior college right out of high school, Kinlaw’s road navigated to South Carolina where he would played in 37 of 38 games and was named a team captain.

The 6-foot-5, 324-pound Kinlaw finished his collegiate career with 82 tackles, 10 sacks, 17 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, and eight passes defensed in three seasons. He was named a first-team All-American after totaling six sacks and six tackles for a loss as a senior with the Gamecocks.

Later in the first-round, San Francisco made another deal, trading away the No. 31, No. 117 (acquired from the Buccaneers) and No. 176 to the Minnesota Vikings for the No. 25 pick. With that pick, the 49ers selected Arizona State wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.

In a draft that is rich with talent at wide receiver, the 49ers selected the 6-foot-tall, 205-pound Sun Devil product that has a gigantic 81-inch wingspan making his catch radius seemingly endless. Most draft experts has Aiyuk as an above-average route runner with the burst to separate from man-to-man coverage. Aiyuk could face some trouble early adjusting to the NFL, but should flourish as he gets comfortable in 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense.

With the loss of veteran wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders in free agency to the New Orleans Saints in the offseason, Aiyuk gives franchise quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo another pass-catching threat.

Aiyuk, who is a native of Reno, NV, attended Sierra College in Rocklin, CA before moving on to Arizona State, where he caught 98 passes for 1,666 yards and 11 touchdowns in two seasons in the desert.

 

Super Bowl LIV prediction: 49ers edge Chiefs in thriller behind 49ers MVP Raheem Mostert

photo from mercurynews.com: San Francisco 49iers running back Raheem Mostert celebrates the NFC Championship victory at Levis Stadium on Sun Jan 19th 

By Joe Hawkes
SRS Contributor

Call me a homer if you want, but I truly believe that the San Francisco 49ers will win Super Bowl LIV over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Score? 35-28, 49ers.

Why?

Simple, behind the play of their stud defensive line powered by rookie defensive end Nick Bosa, and their solid running game centered around running back Raheem Mostert. In fact, Mostert is my pick to walk away with the MVP award of the game.

Mostert, who single-handily punched San Francisco’s ticket to Miami, FL after his four-touchdown, 220-yard rushing performance on 29 carries in the NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers, has become an overnight sensation and a key piece in the 49ers’ run to Super Bowl LIV. After being cut by six teams before latching on with San Francisco in 2016, Mostert became the first player to rush for at least 200 yards and four touchdowns in a playoff game.

For all the talk that the 49ers’ chances to win their sixth Vince Lombardi Trophy rests on the right arm of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and possibly so, but Mostert will be the guy that the bulk of the offense will flow through when the ball is kicked off on Sunday at 6:38 p.m. ET (3:38 p.m. PT) from Hard Rock Stadium.

The game will be tightly contested for three quarters as both Garoppolo and Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes will trade touchdown scoring drives heading into the fourth quarter to tie the score at 28-28.

After San Francisco forces Kansas City into a 3-and-out, Mostert will punctuate a 12-play, 75-yard drive with his second touchdown run of the game at the four-minute mark giving the 49ers a 35-28 lead. In turn, San Francisco’s offense will anxiously watch its defense get them across the finish line which its done for most of the 2019 season.

The defense, who has exhibited such a herculean effort in trying to slow down Mahomes and Kansas City’s high-powered offense, the aforementioned Bosa will come up with a crucial sack on fourth down to secure the win.

Mostert, who will finish with a stat line of 22 carries for 120 yards and two touchdowns, will be just the eighth running back named MVP of the Super Bowl joining Larry Csonka (Super Bowl VIII), Franco Harris (Super Bowl IX), John Riggins (Super Bowl XVII), Marcus Allen (Super Bowl XVIII), Ottis Anderson (Super Bowl XXV), Emmitt Smith (Super Bowl XXVIII), and Terrell Davis (XXXII).

Everyone but Anderson is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

49ers’ defense will have their hands full against Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City’s offense in Super Bowl LIV

ap file photo: Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes drops back to pass in the first half of their game against the Chicago Bears on Aug 25th in pre season play. Little did Mahomes know at the time he and the Chiefs would wind up in Super Bowl LIV 

By Joe Hawkes
SRS Contributor

SANTA CLARA–The San Francisco 49ers made winning the NFC Championship over the Green Bay Packers, 37-20, to advance to Super Bowl LIV on Sunday night look like a walk in the park. It will be San Francisco’s first trip to the Super Bowl since 2013, where they lost to the Baltimore Ravens 34-31.

For the franchise to claim its sixth Vince Lombardi trophy in seven trips to the Super Bowl, the 49ers are going to have to take down Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, who are returning to the Super Bowl for the first time in 50 years after defeating the Tennessee Titans, 35-24, to capture the Lamar Hunt trophy, named after the Chiefs’ late owner as the winner of the AFC.

The Chiefs defeated the Minnesota Vikings, 23-7, in Super Bowl IV.

The play of San Francisco’s defense will be critical when the football is kicked off at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami on Feb. 2. If San Francisco’s defense plays anywhere near it did against both the Vikings and Packers respectively, than the 49ers will be in primed position to win the game.

In two playoff games, the 49ers stood head and shoulders above the rest on defense, finishing first in points (15.0), total yards (252.2), rushing yards (41.5), takeaways (5), and third down percentage (23.8).

But neither Minnesota or Green Bay can match Kansas City’s offense, which can go nuclear within a blink of an eye with the aforementioned Mahomes as the trigger man. The third-year quarterback has a stacked offense, a track team of wide receivers in Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman, and an electrifying tight end in Travis Kelce at his disposal.

In the AFC Championship Game, Kansas City found itself down 10-0 and 17-7, but Mahomes and that high-powered Chiefs offense didn’t flinch, building a 35-17 lead over the Titans thanks in large part of controlling the clock with a strong ground game. Mahomes, who finished the game throwing for 294 yards and three touchdowns, his final touchdown came on a 60-yard strike to Watkins for the Chiefs’ 28th straight point midway through the fourth quarter.

That’s the type of offensive explosion that the 49ers must avoid if they have any shot at winning this football game. That means the 49ers, who may arguably have the NFL’s best defensive line, featuring Nick Bosa, DeForest Buckner, Dee Ford and Arik Armstead must make life difficult for Mahomes every time Kansas City has the football.

The 49ers have the league’s best pass defense and ranked fifth with 48 sacks during the regular season. They have nine more this postseason, largely by taking opponents off schedule and setting up favorable pass-rush situations.

That’s huge against a quarterback that has the penchant of eluding would-be tacklers like Mahomes. Especially in a game with so much on the line like the Super Bowl.