Niners Embarrass Packers in Primetime 37-8; Improve to 10-1

photo from sfgate: Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) is sacked by San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, center, and San Francisco 49ers defensive end Arik Armstead, bottom, during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019.

By: Joe Lami

SANTA CLARA — Sunday Night’s highly anticipated matchup between the 49ers and Packers probably made NBC decision makers second guess themselves, as the flexed-in game turned out to be a complete drubbing. San Francisco dominated Green Bay 37-8, improving to 10-1 on the season, solidifying themselves as a legit Super Bowl contender.

It’s San Francisco’s largest win over their rival since they shutout Green Bay 35-0 in 1954.

The consistent questioning of who the Niners have beat can finally be laid to rest, after they handed Aaron Rodgers his second-worst performance of his career, throwing 20 of 33 for 104 yards and a touchdown before being pulled late in the fourth quarter. He was held to a career-worst 1.7 yards per dropback, following a bye week.

The pressure got to Rodgers early and often, as the Niners pass-rush hit him ten times, sacking him for five, and forced a fumble at his own 14 on the opening possession. Fred Warner was credited with the strip-sack, while Nick Bosa picked it up but got stopped short of scoring his first career touchdown at the two-yard-line.

It wouldn’t matter though, as Tevin Coleman punched it in on the next play to give San Francisco the early lead.

Arik Armstead led the charge on defense, sacking Rodgers twice, bringing his season total to ten on the season and putting him Top Five in the league. Bosa was also credited with his eighth sack on the season, bumping him to 12th in the NFL, and just 0.5 behind his older brother, Joey.

The Niners’ offense struggled in the early going, despite being handed excellent field position. Until three minutes to go in the first half, where they strung together 13 points in the final moments’ thanks to a 42-yard catch and run from Deebo Samuel for a TD and two Chase McLaughlin field goals to give them a 23-0 halftime lead.

Green Bay finally got on the board in the third quarter, when Bay Area native, Davante Adams, scored his first touchdown of the season, bringing the game with 15 after a two-point conversion.

However, the celebration was short-lived when the Niners fired back immediately with a quick 57-second, 75-yard touchdown drive. 61 of them came on George Kittle catch-and-run, where he completely burned the cornerback on a post-corner route in the middle of the field, before turning on the afterburners to find pay dirt, making it 30-8.

Kittle finished with six catches for 129 yards in his first game since Halloween, where he went down with ankle and knee injuries. Shanahan later confirmed that Kittle played through a broken ankle. Techincally, a chipped bone, though stable, Kittle still needed to battle through the pain. When asked about the pain, Kittle shrugged and said, “that’s football.”

Raheem Mostert ran in San Francisco’s final score from 15-yards out, finishing with six carries for 45 yards and the TD.

Green Bay’s offense only mustered 198 yards, with Aaron Jones chipping in 38 on the ground. Entering the game, Jones led the NFL in rushing TDs with 11. San Francisco’s defense completely dominated Green Bay in every facet.

The Packers picked up their first third-down conversion of the game on the second to last play, with just 1:04 remaining. Holding the Packers to 1/15 on third-down, the Niners were only a minute away from shutting out the Packers on third-down for the first time since 1999.

“They’re just relentless. They play 11 guys so strong, so complimentary of one another with the pash rush, the coverage, our linebackers. It’s incredible to see how smothering all 11 guys can be and that is what they do week in and week out,” said Mike McGlinchy.

Jimmy Garoppolo shined bright and avoided any costly turnovers in a magnificent performance, where he completed 14/20 for 253 yards and two touchdowns. More importantly, he gave a killer sideline speech that kicked the Niners’ offense into gear when it struggled after the opening possession.

The Niners couldn’t have started their toughest stretch of the season any better, destroying Green Bay at home. They’ll now carry confidence into back-to-back road games against playoff teams in Baltimore and New Orleans.

49ers Preview: Can They Overcome Injuries?

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By: Joe Lami

The toughest stretch of the season is here for the San Francisco 49ers and will give some clarity as to how elite the NFC leaders are. Over the next three weeks, their opponents’ combined records are 24-6 as all three appear like playoff locks. They start this critical stretch, hosting the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football.

With the game now flexed into the primetime slot, the entire country will get to find out how real the Niners are. Injuries continue to be the biggest concern heading into the weekend for the red and gold against their toughest opponent thus far.

Joe Staley will miss a minimum of two weeks with a broken finger, but rookie Justin Skule has been an incredible surprise protecting Garoppolo’s blind side so far.

Matt Breida’s nagging ankle injury has held him off the practice field once again this week. It appears Tevin Coleman, Raheem Mostert, and Jeff Wilson Jr. will fueling San Francisco’s running attack come Sunday.

Robbie Gould is expected to miss his third-straight game, but Chase McLaughlin has connected on 4-of-5 as a Niner and will be depended on again, come Sunday. His lone miss was the overtime shank against the Seahawks.

Dee Ford’s absence will leave the most significant question mark for San Francisco. His quad injury will leave him out and will re-structure how the D-line is set-up. Arik Armstead has had an outstanding year thus far, leading the team with eight sacks, but how will he perform lining up on the edge?

Both Deebo Samuel and Emmanuel Sanders are questionable, giving hope that Garoppolo will have weapons at wide-out.

More importantly, Kittle got back onto the practice field in a non-contact jersey on Thursday and Friday. His status will be a game-time decision, according to Shanahan, but leaves optimism that he’s making his return. Kittle’s absence has been missed most, surprisingly on the run game, as the Niners’ rushing attack has dipped from 4.9 yards per rush to 3.5 without him on the field.

Aside from injuries, the match-up favors the Niners on paper. Their biggest challenge will be finding a way to slow down Aaron Rodgers, which easier said than done. Rodgers enters Sunday’s contest with a 17 TD to 2 INT ratio, third in the NFL, and hasn’t thrown a pick in 138 attempts, but San Francisco owns the #1 pass defense in the league and has forced the fourth-most picks in the league.

The 49ers have the most elite pass rush in the league. If they’re able to get to Rodgers, that’ll be their best chance to forcing him into mistakes.

Green Bay brings in the #2 red-zone offense against the #1 red-zone defense. Will San Francisco’s defense continues to show the bend, don’t break attitude they’ve had all year or will the dam finally burst?

Expect a massive run attack from the 49ers. Green Bay brings in the 25th defense in the league. San Francisco is set-up for a field day; they’ve been averaging 225.8 yards per game against bottom ten rush defenses.

Kittle returning to the line up brings more firepower to it. When Kittle’s been in the lineup, San Francisco is averaging 4.9 yards per carry, but without him, they’ve only been averaging 3.5 yards per carry.

Garoppolo’s Career Day Powers Comeback for Niners

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By: Joe Lami

SANTA CLARA — The San Francisco 49ers continue to find ways to win football games and improve to 9-1. On Sunday, they came firing back from a 16-point deficit despite not having a run game to beat Arizona 36-26. It also marks the first time since 2013 San Francisco has swept Arizona in the season series. Coincidently, 2013 was also the 49ers’ last winning season.

Jimmy Garoppolo joined rarified air in Niners’ history, joining Joe Montana and Steve Young as the only players to throw 400+ yards and four touchdowns in a single game. Garoppolo shattered his previous career-high of 371 yards, passing for 424, yet wasn’t perfect throwing two interceptions in the process.

Jimmy was forced to be excellent, with no support from a run game that finished with 34 yards on 19 carries and leading the comeback. His 424 yards were the 10th most in San Francisco history. Garoppolo did so without George Kittle and with Emmanuel Sanders limited. Instead, he used the entire roster to his advantage, completing receptions to ten different receivers.

Ross Dwelley was the star on Sunday, standing in for the injured Kittle, catching four balls for 14 yards and two touchdowns and is proving himself to be the swiss-army knife the red and gold need. They marked his first two career touchdowns of his NFL career.

The Cardinals jumped on the Niners’ early, especially targeting Richard Sherman, who was tacked with three pass interference penalties in the opening half. The first came on Arizona’s opening possession and pinned San Francisco inside their own five-yard line on a third down. Fortunately, the Niners defense bent but didn’t break, forcing Zane Gonzalez to kick a 26-yard field goal.

Later in the first quarter, Kyler Murray found Larry Fitzgerald in the end zone for the hall-of-famer’s 118th TD reception of his career. Zane Gonzalez kept the score at 9-0 after a missed PAT.

Arizona took the 16-point advantage in the second quarter when Kyler Murray found Pharoh Cooper for his second touchdown of the day. Murray was electric, and one can see why the Cardinals spent their first-overall pick on him. His 150 passing yards, 67 rushing yards, and three touchdowns don’t do him enough justice. The Niners’ defense adjusted, clamped down, and made his life difficult for the majority of the day.

The Niners looked dead to rights in the second quarter until they ran a screen pass to the left side to Richie James Jr. James showcased his incredible speed, darting down the sideline for 57 yards and sparking the 49ers’ offense and setting up Dwelley’s first score.

The Niners cut the deficit to six, as Chase McLaughlin nailed a 43-yard field goal to end the half.

San Francisco made it 17-unanswered points, scoring on the second half’s opening drive with Dwelley’s second TD of the day to take a 17-16 lead. After another Gonzlez field goal, San Francisco would re-take the lead again early in the fourth with Kendrick Bourne’s third touchdown of the season, making it 23-19 after a missed two-point conversion.

Shanahan mentioned his chart and being “the right thing to do” when explaining the two-point attempt.

Murray ran in his only rushing touchdown of the game from 22-yards out to retake the lead at 26-23 with 6:30 to go. The ball and game would fall onto the lap of Jimmy G once again.

In his first attempt, a deflected ball targeting Dwelley was intercepted with 4:41 to play. Luckily, the defense had his back, buckled down, and ensured he would get a second chance at the comeback.

Jimmy G drove down the field, bringing the ball inside the 30-yard line. With under a minute to go, a short pass to Dwelley on third-and-three triggered a lengthy review on whether or not the Tight End picked up the first down. Following the review and with a first down, Shanahan drew up the perfect play, targeting Jeff Wilson Jr. in his first snap of the game. Wilson found himself wide open and scampered into the end-zone for the last-minute touchdown.

“Kyle’s a mastermind. I give [all the credit] to him, I can’t give any credit to me. He called the right play for me. I just did what I had to do to make a play,” explained Wilson Jr. He became the 12th different receiver to haul in a touchdown from Garoppolo on the year.

The Niners put a feather in the cap on a crazy defensive score to finish the game. DJ Reed was credited with the score after an errant Fitzgerald lateral as time expired, making it 36-26.

The Niner’s ability to find various ways of winning continues to be their greatest strength. They’ll need to rely on these early experiences and the success they’ve seen as the schedule continues to get tougher. In the next three weeks, we’ll fully comprehend what the red and gold are made of, with Green Bay in town next weekend before back-to-back road games against the Ravens and Saints.

Injuries Could Cripple 49ers Against Cardinals

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By: Joe Lami

SANTA CLARA–The Niners are no longer undefeated, and with only a one-game advantage on the Seattle Seahawks, they need to get back down to business this weekend with the Arizona Cardinals in town. Arizona’s season is beginning to slip away, thanks to a quick three-game skid that finds them at the bottom of the NFC West.

The 3-6-1 team is better than their record indicates as we saw two weeks ago in Thursday night’s 28-25 Halloween scare. San Francisco can’t afford to take Arizona lightly, a team that they haven’t beaten at home since 2014, Levi’s inaugural season.

This time of year, injuries will always be the key storyline. San Francisco struggled on offense against the Seahawks without George Kittle and Emmanuel Sanders. A slight dip to their third-down conversion seemed to be the difference between a win and a loss, and the 49ers could be without their top two targets again this weekend.

Sanders, who sustained a rib injury in Monday’s loss, has yet to practice this week and appears to be out on Sunday. He’s shown quick chemistry with Garoppolo and owned Arizona in their opening meeting, catching seven balls for 112 yards. The sure-handed receiver will be greatly missed, especially after Monday’s nine-drop debacle.

Meanwhile, Kittle practiced for the first time on Thursday since sustaining his knee injury against the Cardinals. He was limited, but it was a good sign to see him back on the practice field in Santa Clara. His status for Monday is still questionable.

On top of possibly being without their top two targets come Sunday, Matt Breida’s ankle injury will keep him out the next couple of weeks, as he reaggravated it on Monday. The 49ers’ offensive attack could look greatly diminished against the Cardinals, which should scare those that realize it took everyone to win the first time around.

San Francisco finished with 411 total yards in their win against the Cardinals, and if you take out Kittle, Sanders, and Breida, they’re left with 142 yards. Taking away 62% of their total offense is going to be challenging to overcome. They’ll need to find more production out of Tevin Coleman and Deebo Samuel to battle for a win. Samuel is coming off his breakout game, catching eight balls for 112 yards.

On top of the critical skill position injuries, the Niners will go back to being without Joe Staley, who broke a couple of fingers in Monday’s loss. Insert Justin Skule, who’s been a great surprise sliding in for Staley’s absence earlier in the year. The sixth-round rookie did a fabulous job defending Garoppolo’s blindside.

If Kyle Shanahan can game plan once again around all these injuries, San Francisco should be okay. They’ve shown different ways to win all season, and this Sunday could be his biggest test yet. With zero wiggle room atop the NFC West, now is not the time for a monumental slip-up.

Niners No Longer Undefeated; Lose Thriller to Seattle 27-24 photo: The Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson scrambles to avoid the San Francisco 49ers pass rush on Monday Night Football at Levis Stadium

By: Joe Lami

SANTA CLARA — The NFL has no undefeated teams remaining this season after the San Francisco 49ers were defeated by their arch-rivals, the Seattle Seahawks, in overtime 27-24 on Monday Night Football. The highly-anticipated game lived up to and even surpassed the hype, as we just witnessed the best home game played at Levi’s Stadium.

The game had everything, including substantial point swings, turnovers, defensive touchdowns, drops (lots of them), and game-winning field goal opportunities.

Niners’ fans can walk away disappointed after MVP front-runner, Russell Wilson, ran all over the field, totaling 53 yards, including a 19-yard scamper in overtime that set up the game-winner. But they shouldn’t. The red and gold balled out tonight, despite being without their star all-pro tight end, George Kittle and losing Emmanuel Sanders in the midst of it all. Sanders went down with a rib injury and didn’t come back. He’s scheduled for an MRI on Tuesday.

Other injuries include Matt Breida’s ankle acted up; he didn’t return. DJ Jones, who went down with a groin injury and didn’t return. He was a beast up until the point, getting a sack that included completely knocking the Seattle center over on a perfectly timed bullrush. Ronald Blair also went down with a knee injury after preventing Wilson from picking up a huge gain. The Niners finished the game with five sacks and have marked more than three for the sixth-straight game.

They just made mistakes, lots of them, and still took a 7-2 team down to the very seconds of overtime.

But as Richard Sherman said postgame, “you learn more in your losses than in your wins. We’re going to find things to correct and fix them”.

The Niners had a chance to win the game twice in the overtime period. The newly signed rookie kicker, Chase McLaughlin, was 3/3 heading into the potential 47-yard game-winner, but completely shanked it. On San Francisco’s second drive of the overtime period, they only expended 14 seconds off the clock thanks to three-straight incompletions (including one drop), leaving Wilson 1:25 to drive from his own 36 to win the game.

Only using 14 seconds off the clock proved to be costly, as it was enough time for Wilson to work his magic. But at the same time, Shanahan wasn’t shy about being aggressive; he was playing for the win.

One has to question, though, why he didn’t use Deebo Samuel on an end-around. Samuel experienced his best game in the NFL thus far, getting leaned on heavily after Sanders went down. He finished with eight catches on 11 targets for 112 yards. It was his first 100+ yard performance of his career.

Wilson had the first drive of overtime and was looking like an unstoppable object, driving the ball down to the 49ers’ 14-yard line. That’s when Dre Greenlaw made his biggest play as a 49er, intercepting the pass over his shoulder and returning it to midfield. It was only Wilson’s second thrown interception on his season.

Before the play, Greenlaw instilled confidence in his defense, “I told them they are not in the end zone yet, so it is up to us to get a stop. That’s the mentality that we have to have as a defense and the mentality we all have,” he said.

McLaughlin, replacing the injured Robbie Gould, played excellent up to that point. He even kicked the game-tying 47-yarder with just one second remaining after Jimmy Garoppolo drove from his own 26 on a ten-play drive.

The Niners were humbled tonight, getting handed their first loss of the season, yet they didn’t go down without a fight.

San Francisco grabbed an early 10-0 lead in the opening quarter thanks to Jimmy Garoppolo’s only passing touchdown of the game, finding Kendrick Bourne from ten yards out. Bourne was mediocre at best, catching four of eight balls for 42 yards. He had a few drops, including one that led to Garoppolo’s only interception of the game.

“It’s tough, especially how it got an interception off of it; that’s what gets at me more than a drop. Even the second one almost got picked. I am just down on myself because those types of things can happen. It’s just about focusing in on the ball, because I know I can catch the ball, it’s not hard. Sometimes, you squeeze it harder than other situations. When I’m more open, I tend to get more relaxed when someone is on me,” added Bourne.

Seattle looked dead to rights, until late in the first half, when Garoppolo fumbled the ball at his ten on a strip-sack from Jarran Reed. The ball was scooped up by Jadeveon Clowney for the touchdown and brought the score to 10-7 before the break. Clowney had a field-day against the banged-up Niners’ offensive line, finishing with the fumble recovery touchdown, as well as a forced fumble, five tackles, a sack, and five QB hits.

Seattle had a chance at back-to-back late second-quarter touchdowns, but a terrific play from Jaquiski Tartt punched the ball out of DK Metcalf’s hands at the two-yard-line to prevent the score.

However, they picked it up in the second half, scoring two more touchdowns, extending their 21-0 run. Russell Wilson found tight end Jacob Hollister in the end zone for his 23rd touchdown pass of the season, while Chris Carson ran one in from a yard out.

The Niners were able to stop the bleeding on quite possibly the strangest play anyone has ever seen to start the fourth quarter. The ball started with K’Wuan Williams strip-sacking Wilson. However, the ball fell into the lap of right tackle, Germain Ifedi, who fumbled on a Fred Warner punch-out. DeForest Buckner did the rest of the work and carried it in for his first touchdown since high school to bring the Niners back into the game. The Niners capped the play with a two-point conversion to Bourne, making it 21-18.

Field goals filled the rest of the fourth, with Jason Myers knocking down one and McLaughlin nailing two, including the buzzer-beater.

It was Garoppolo’s first experience in overtime. The much more experienced Wilson got the best of him, as he ups his record to 6-3-1 in extra time. More importantly, the win for Seattle now puts them right on the heels of the Niners are 8-2, just one game behind San Francisco for the division lead.

Niners Pre-Game Notebook: Seahawks

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By: Joe Lami

The biggest game of the season is here for the 49ers as they host the (7-2) Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football. The last undefeated team in the NFL eyes its first 9-0 start since 1990 in what is quite possibly the biggest Niners game held at Levi’s Stadium.

It’s crazy to believe that the Niners are still undefeated without both starting tackles and their pro-bowl caliber fullback, but they’ve done just that. Mike McGlinchy, Joe Staley, and Kyle Juszczyk are all expected to return come Monday. All three were held to limited practice on Friday, but Santa Clara remains optimistic.

Both George Kittle and Robbie Gould didn’t practice on Thursday and Friday. Kittle injured his knee in last Thursday’s win over the Cardinals. He won’t be ruled out until Saturday’s practice, but the faithful shouldn’t hold their breath.

Gould sustained a quad injury on Tuesday, and his status is still up in the air. Rookie, Chase McLaughlin, was brought in, in case Gould isn’t able to go. McLaughlin kicked four games for the LA Chargers earlier in the seasoning, finishing six of nine on field goals before being released.

Scouting the Seahawks
Russell Wilson is an early-season MVP favorite. He’s currently third in passing yards with 2,505 and leads the NFL with 22 touchdowns to just one interception. He’s been phenomenal and is by far the best quarterback the Niners have faced this season.

The one area he’s struggled in is getting pass protection, being sacked 22 times on the season, the ninth most in the NFL. The Niners front four need to be salivating towards getting after the quarterback because if they don’t, Wilson should be able to carve up the secondary. San Francisco has gotten to the QB the third most this season, with 30 sacks on the season.

Wilson’s main two targets this year and have been Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. Lockett’s caught for 767 yards and six touchdowns, while the rookie has hauled in 525 yards and five touchdowns.

Seattle’s the seventh-best team at rushing the football. Chris Carson has been their go-to man, averaging 4.4 yards per carry with three touchdowns.

Seattle’s defense is just as good at taking the ball away, although they’ve played one more game. Tied for fourth in takeaways with the Niners, they’re particularly good at forcing fumbles, recovering seven on the season thus far. They don’t rely on getting to the QB as much, recording only 15 sacks on the season.

Final Thoughts
The Niners and Seahawks appear to be an excellent matchup on paper. It’s a classic offense vs. defense matchup – the star QB vs. the best defense in the NFL. If the Niners can contain Russ Wilson, they should come out victorious. Seattle’s defense gives up yards and the possibility of the running game potentially getting better with the three hogs returning is promising.

As long as Garoppolo continues to move the ball, pick up first downs, and prevent the turnovers, the Niners should stay undefeated.

Niners Dominate Panthers 51-13, Improve to 7-0

photo from Carolina Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen is sacked by San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019.

By: Joe Lami

SANTA CLARA — For the second time in franchise history, the San Francisco 49ers have started a season 7-0, thanks to a historic 51-13 beat down of the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. It’s the first time since 2003 the Niners put up 50 and just the 12th time in franchise history.

It’s hard to believe that when a team drops a 50-burger, the defense is the first thing that should be mentioned, but that’s the case. No one had a better day than Nick Bosa, who had three sacks and an interception. It marks the first-time in 49ers’ history that a player had accomplished it and the first time since 2017 anyone has done so.

Bosa continues to strengthen his case as a lock for the Defensive Rookie of the Year, but now should be in consideration of Defensive Player of the Year. His teammate, Richard Sherman, agrees, “he’s playing like he’s been in the league for ten years. With what he’s shown so far, he should be in line for the defensive MVP.”

“Since the first day he’s gotten here, he hasn’t changed. No matter how everyone looks at him or how he plays or if he’s hurt or not. He’s always very even-keeled. I think people like that are very impressive. He’s just very confident in himselff. The more he plays, the better he’ll get, as long as he can stay healthy. He’s a special player, definitely hasn’t arrived yet. He has a lot more to go, but he’s been playing extremely well,” added Shanahan.

He was the driving force behind the defense’s incredible performance that included seven combined sacks, nine tackles for loss, nine QB hits, three interceptions, and seven pass break-ups.

Tevin Coleman powered the offense with one receiving and three rushing touchdowns on 118 all-purpose yards. He became the first Niner to score four TDs in a game since Jerry Rice in 1993 and just the third to total four in a single-game.

The offense looked electric on the first drive of the game, where they marched down the field on an 11-play 75-yard drive and wouldn’t look back. Emmanuel Sanders capped off the opening drive with his first touchdown as a member of the 49ers. He finished with three receptions for 19 yards and the touchdown.

“I ran a five-yard out route. The ball was tipped, but it ended up falling right into my hands. It was probably one of the easiest touchdowns I’ve had. It was awesome to get on the opening drive to be a newcomer on this team and be able to open up like that is awesome,” added Sanders.

Sanders’ new addition to the room gives a different perspective of how special this run truly is. “The locker room is just amazing with a great group of players and great personalities. I showed up today, expecting the same results in personality. I’ll never forget going out into the tunnel with these guys. Everybody was laughing and smiling. This is football; this is fun. I’m blessed to be here”.

Deebo Samuel and Raheem Mostert added to the scoring, both with rushing touchdowns.

Jimmy Garoppolo was nearly perfect, throwing 18/22 for 175 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception to Luke Keuchly. He was also sacked three times, including a safety. Following the game, he blamed the pick on a mental error trying to hit George Kittle. Kittle was his primary target, per usual, catching six balls for 86 yards.

Garoppolo continues to spread the ball around incredibly within Shanahan’s offense, as he’s thrown nine touchdowns to nine different receivers on the year.

Christian McCaffrey had the lone touchdown for the Panthers and was one of their only bright spots. He rushed for 117 yards on 14 carries and the score.

Kyle Allen entered the contest undefeated on the season but was quickly outmatched. He was held to just 4.3 yards per attempt, going for 158 yards, completing 19 of 37.

The Niners have to quickly recover and get ready for Thursday, where they will face the 3-4 Cardinals at 5:20 p.m. It won’t be a cakewalk either for San Francisco, as they’ve struggled mightily against Arizona. The Cardinals have owned the series recently, winning the last eight contests and nine of the last ten.

49ers Can Win Ugly Too; Beat Washington 9-0, Improve to 6-0

photo from San Francisco 49ers offensive guard Mike Person walks on the sideline in the second half of an NFL football game against Washington at Landover MD

By: Joe Lami

The 49ers continue to prove that they win no matter the circumstance, improving their undefeated record to 6-0. Sunday was the most extreme example of the yet as San Francisco brawled out a muddy 9-0 victory in the rain-drenched nation’s capital. The shutout marks the first under the Kyle Shanahan era and brings the 49ers to 6-0 for the third time in their history and the first since 1990.

The defense continues to be the backbone of this team. Washington totaled 156 yards with the Niners completely shut them down in the second half, allowing just 36 yards. Washington also struggled to do much on third down, going three of nine to extend drives.

Adrian Peterson was a workhorse for Washington, picking up 81 yards on 20 carries, including 49 yards on eight carries in the opening drive. Washington was able to copy LA’s opening drive by marching right down the field on the Niners, but the defense was able to make a stand. Dustin Hopkins was no good from 39 yards.

Nick Bosa led the team with seven combined tackles. He also finished off the game to his fourth sack of the season to a slip and slide styled celebration. The defense got to Case Keenum three times with Dee Ford and Arik Armstead joining the fun.

Kwon Alexander made the play of the day, punching out the ball in the middle of a promising Washington drive for the only forced turnover the Niners had.

The offense also improved as the game went on, as Kyle Shanahan started to get more aggressive. 215 of their 283 yards came in the second half. More importantly, the Niners were able to stay on the field, converting 7-of-16 third downs and totaling 17 first downs.

Jimmy Garoppolo was responsible for nine of them, and in a sloppy game, that’s all it takes sometimes. He threw for 151 yards on 12 of 21 passing, but more importantly, he scrambled for 20 yards in crucial situations.

Robbie Gould was three of four, missing his first attempt of the game. The miss marked the seventh of the early season and immediately brought concern about how serious of an issue it’s becoming. Fortunately, he was able to settle into the game, knocking in three-straight.

The Niners’ next test will be next week at home against the 4-2 Carolina Panthers who will have the extra week to prepare coming off their bye.

Time to Start Respecting 5-0 Niners, Beat Rams 20-7

Photo credit: @arikarmstead

By: Joe Lami

On Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers answered their biggest test yet, defeating their division foe, the LA Rams 20-7. With only two undefeated teams remaining in the NFL and a victory over the defending NFC Champions, it’s finally time to say this team is for real.

Leading that statement is the defense, who once again balled out in the win. Starting off shaky, allowing a seven-play 56-yard opening drive with all rushing plays for a touchdown, they buckled down as the game went on and started dominating. The Rams were held to just 165 total yards while Jarred Goff contributed 78 yards on 13-of-24. At one point in the third quarter, Goff was 7-of-9 for 29 yards.

The pass rush was distributive once the Rams started throwing the ball, sacking Goff four times with Dee Ford picking up a strip-sack. The Niners were especially impressive when it mattered most, forcing the Rams to go 0-for-9 on third down and 0-for-2 on fourth down.

One of the big stops came late in the second quarter when the Niners stuffed Malcolm Brown on fourth down on the goal line, forcing a turnover on downs.

As good as the defense was, the offense was mediocre, finishing with 331 total yards. Jimmy Garoppolo finished with 243 passing yards on 24-of-33 with an interception. He also ran in San Francisco’s second touchdown of the game, that was set up by Arik Armstead, picking up a fumble at the 17 yard-line on the Rams’ first play of the second half.

Garoppolo continues to throw at least one terrible pass per game that leaves you scratching your head. Sunday was no different as he floated up a ball in the end zone to Marcus Peters, all alone, taking away points from San Francisco.

Tevin Coleman scored the first touchdown of the game, as the offense was able to get settled into the game halfway through the first quarter. He finished with 45 yards on 18 carries. Matt Breida finished with 13 carries for 36 yards. With just 99 rushing yards, it shows that missing both Mike McGlinchey and Kyle Juszczyk has stagnated the run game.

George Kittle was Garoppolo’s favorite target, catching all eight passes targeted to him for 103 yards. Dante Pettis had his best game as a Niner, catching three balls for 45 yards, picking up two third-down conversions.

Even with a lackluster performance from the offense, this team continues to roll through the NFL. The defense is leading the way and is beginning to look like a team that Harbaugh led to the NFC Championship Game just a few years ago.

The Niners look to continue to roll, at they travel to Washington next week in a game that they should dominate. Washington picked up their first win of the season with a one-point victory over the Dolphins on Sunday.

49ers Dominate Browns 31-3 on Monday Night Football

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By: Joe Lami

SANTA CLARA — For the first time since 1990, the San Francisco 49ers have started their season 4-0; thanks to a 31-3 Monday Night beatdown of the Cleveland Browns. In 1990, Joe Montana led the Niners to a 10-0 start and a birth in the NFC title game.

They looked like a team destined for greatness on Monday, owning Cleveland on all sides of the ball, led by a stifling defense and a hard run game.

Defensively, the Niners were all over the Browns, as Cleveland couldn’t do anything. The 49ers pass rush made life difficult for Baker Mayfield, who was held to 8 completions on 22 attempts for 100 yards. He also threw two interceptions and was sacked four times.

Second-overall pick, Nick Bosa shined in primetime with his best performance to date. He was all over the place, finishing with two sacks, five QB hits, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.
He became the first Niner in 25 years to finish two sacks, a forced fumble, and a recovery.

Bosa earned his revenge on Mayfield, who famously planted an Oklahoma flag in the middle of Ohio State’s Horseshoe when his Sooners’ upset Bosa’s Buckeyes a few years ago. Bosa celebrated a sack by re-creating it on Monday.

The Niners started the night great, forcing Cleveland to punt on their opening possession. The fireworks began from there, as Matt Breida opened the game on an 83-yard gash to the endzone, giving San Francisco an immediate 7-0 lead.

Breida’s run was the fifth-longest in franchise history and the longest run by a Niner since Kaepernick went 90 yards against the Chargers in 2014. His run was clocked at 22.30 MPH by NFL NextGen Stats, the fastest speed reached by any player over the last two seasons.

Breida led San Francisco’s rushing effort that dashed the Browns for 275 yards. He finished with 114 yards on 11 carries. Tevin Coleman returned from injury for 97 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries, while Raheem Mostert played clean-up duty in the second half with seven carries for 34 yards.

Breida picked up his second touchdown of the evening later in the first quarter, catching a five-yard pass from Garoppolo to extend the lead to 14-0.

The Niners extended their lead to 21-3 late in the second quarter on a Coleman 19-yard run. The drive was set up again by the defense standing tall in their own red zone with K’Waun Williams picking off Mayfield on the goal line and returning it to midfield.

Jimmy Garoppolo threw his lone touchdown in the third quarter, finding George Kittle from 20 yards out to make it 28-3. Garoppolo quietly threw two touchdowns on 20-of-29 for 181 yards, doing just enough to complement the extraordinary run game. Through four games, Garoppolo has thrown seven touchdowns to seven different receivers.

Kittle was his primary target, bringing in six balls for 70 yards and his first touchdown of the season.

The one dark spot for the 49ers was their kicking game. Robbie Gould continues to struggle this year, and on Monday night, he missed three more field goals. Missing from 47 and 52 yards, he was also blocked from 32 yards out.

Even more concerning, Kyle Juszczyk exited the game with an apparent knee sprain. He’s scheduled for an MRI on Monday, and the 49ers are hopeful it won’t be a long-term injury. The fullback has been an under-the-radar bright spot for San Francisco, setting up most of the Niners’ big runs.

Now on a short week, the Niners face their biggest test yet this Sunday in Los Angeles as they take on the Rams. It will be intriguing to see how this offense operates without one of their key cogs in the backfield if Juszczyk is unable to go.