Photo credit: sfgate.com
By: Joe Lami
Sunday’s game with the Raven’s was being billed a potential Super Bowl preview, and we can only hope that the Super Bowl is as good as this one was. Although San Francisco ended up losing to the Baltimore Ravens 20-17 on a buzzer-beating 49-yard kick by Justin Tucker, this team can swing with the best of them, and even left something on the field. The Niners now fall to 10-2, with both losses coming on last-play field goals.
Ravens’ back, Mark Ingram said before the game, “this one is going to be a slugfest.” And boy, was he right. Both offenses and defenses shined at times throughout the game, but it came down to who got the final possession. Unfortunately for the Niners, the answer was the Ravens, who finished with a 32:26 time of possession, with each team eight possessions apiece.
The Niners neutralized Lamar Jackson the best they could, but it’s challenging to slow down the run-away MVP candidate who rushed for 100 yards in his fourth-straight game and passed for 105 yards. Showing his dual-threat capabilities, he scored a touchdown both ways.
Raheem Mostert has his best game as a pro. At times, he looked nearly unstoppable, running outside zone rushes for 146 yards on 19 attempts, including a magnificent 40-yard TD run.
The Niners looked dominant from the get-go, marching down the field on the opening possession for the scored. Garoppolo threw a strike to Deebo Samuel on fourth and two from 33-yards out. Deebo’s beginning to show his dawg mentality, powering through Marcus Peters to go up for the catch.
Unfortunately, it was short-lived; on San Francisco’s next drive Chuck Clark punched the ball out of Jimmy Garoppolo’s hands at his 23. It would only take two plays for Jackson to find the end zone for the first time of the day, as he tossed a TD to Mark Andrews.
The fireworks continued with both teams scoring TDs on their next drives. Lamar Jackson got his second of the day, but first on the ground, running in from a yard out to cap an 84-yard, 13-play drive. The Niners answered thanks to some terrific blocking that set off a 40-yard Raheem Mostert touchdown run, equalizing the game at 14.
Justin Tucker knocked in his first field goal of the game from 30 yards to give the Ravens a 17-14 lead. At the time, it was a pretty big win for the Niners, slowing down Baltimore’s offense.
The Niners couldn’t answer with two minutes to work with until halftime. Mostert was able to string together a few runs to set-up a 51-yard attempt from Gould. But he fell short in his first attempt in three weeks to end the half. The missed field goal would come back to haunt the Niners.
The second half played way slower, as the Niners only got three possessions. They were lengthy, though, as Kyle Shanahan was doing his best to keep the ball out of Lamar’s hands. Lamar opened the second half with the ball and was driving until Marcell Harris made a play and punched the ball out at the Niners’ 34.
San Francisco then began a 14-play, 53-yard drive that took 8:26 off the clock that finished with a 30-yard Robbie Gould field goal to tie at 17.
The Niners defense stood tall for two more drives, forcing a punt and a turnover on downs. Fred Warner was the defensive MVP for the Niners. The middle linebacker was all over the place, getting two PBUs on third downs, and 11 tackles.
Unfortunately, the Niners offense also stagnated due to the Ravens’ league-leading defense that held Jimmy Garoppolo to 165 yards on 15/21 and a TD. John Harbaugh also did his best to keep the ball away from the 49ers and ended with the last possession.
The Niners have proved they’re one of the best teams in the league and were able to keep up with Baltimore despite a few things not going their way. They’ll now keep their eyes on Monday night’s Seahawks’ game to see if they’ll still have the division lead at 10-2 when they travel to New Orleans next week.