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.

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

Undefeated Niners have potential trap game

Photo credit: @SNFonNBC

By Jeremy Harness

SANTA CLARA–The 49ers are riding a wave they have not experienced in almost 30 years, winning their first five games and getting a statement victory last Sunday against the defending NFC champions on the road.

The Washington Redskins, on the other hand, are 1-5, just fired their head coach a week and a half ago, and only got their first win after holding off a furious comeback against unquestionably the worst team in the NFL, the Miami Dolphins.

These are the Redskins that the 49ers will travel across the country to face on Sunday, and this can be safely classified as a potential trap game, for all the reasons illustrated above.

Washington has question marks all over the place, and based on the moves that are being made on and off the field, they are not expected to be solved any time soon. This should all equate to a convincing win, but stranger things have happened in the NFL over the years.

The interim head coach across the sideline from the 49ers has Bay Area ties, as Bill Callahan, who previously served as the team’s offensive line coach until taking over for the fired Jay Gruden, was at the helm when the Oakland Raiders went to the Super Bowl after the 2002 season before he himself was fired after the team stumbled to a 4-12 mark the very next year.

Aside from missing their two starting tackles, starting fullback and starting right corner, the 49ers do have a few other injury concerns as they head into Sunday.

A pair of significant offensive players, tight end George Kittle and receiver Deebo Samuel, sat out Wednesday’s practice with groin ailments. Both are listed as day-to-day and are expected to play Sunday.

Running back Raheem Mostert did not practice Wednesday with a knee strain, and he, too, is day-to-day.

For the Redskins, cornerback Josh Norman was held out of Wednesday’s practice with hand and thigh injuries, while running back Adrian Peterson’s quad ailment kept him from practicing as well.

49ers Win Huge 41-17; Start Season with Perfect Road Trip

photo from sfgate.com: Marquise Goodwin #11 of the San Francisco 49ers runs for a touchdown during the first quarter of the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on September 15, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

By Joe Lami

After not winning a single road game last year, the 49ers are off to a perfect start to their 2019 season. On Sunday, they impressively manhandled the Cincinnati Bengals 41-17 in their largest offensive road output since 2014 marking a complete 2-0 road trip.

The onslaught started early, as the defense quickly forced a three-and-out, giving the offense great starting field position on the first drive. The Niners easily capitalized as Jimmy Garoppolo found Marquise Goodwin wide open for a 38-yard score.

Garoppolo flashed what excited the faithful in late 2017 in a dominant performance, throwing three touchdowns on 17 of 25 passing for 297 yards. The Bengals challenged Jimmy G by trying to shut down his top target, George Kittle, but he spread the ball around incredibly well, finding three different receivers for scores and eight different pass catchers for receptions.

Rookie Debo Samuel led the way with five catches for 87 yards and his first career touchdown. Goodwin finished with three catches for 77 yards and a score, while Mostert got four balls out of the backfield for 68 yards and a score. Kittled finished with three catches on three targets for 54 yards.

Garoppolo had one throw he’d like back, throwing a terrible interception while targeting Richie James Jr. in triple coverage.

The passing attack was set up all by the rush, as the 49ers had their best rushing game under Kyle Shanahan, totaling 259 yards. Matt Breida was a monster, rushing for 121 yards on 12 carries, including one rush that reminisced Barry Sanders. Raheem Mostert carried 13 times for 83 yards, while Jeff Wilson Jr. came off the practice squad for ten carries, 34 yards, and two touchdowns.

On defense, the front seven was all over Andy Dalton, sacking him four times, while Kwon Alexander picked up his first interception as a Niner. They held Dalton to 311 yards, on 26 of 42 passes for two touchdowns. Dalton depended upon Tyler Boyd and John Ross as his two main targets, as both combined for 14 catches, 234 yards, and a score.

However, the Niners did lose Joe Staley with a broken left fibula in the win. He’s expected to miss six to eight weeks, and it remains to be seen on whether or not he’ll be placed on the IR. After losing swing tackle Shon Coleman in the pre-season, the Niners may seek free agency or a trade to replace their all-pro left tackle.

At 2-0, the Niners now return home to host the 0-2 Steelers in their home opener. The Steelers lost 28-26 to Seattle on Sunday, very similar to Seattle’s 21-20 win over the Bengals in week one.

Join Joe for 49ers coverage each week and podcast commentary each Friday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

San Francisco 49ers podcast with David Zizmor: Will injuries impact 49ers going into the regular season?; Mullens and Beathard, who will be the backup at QB?

Photo credit: sfchronicle.com

On the 49ers podcast with David:

#1 What is it with all the injuries? It wasn’t even until the first preseason game and you had lineman Shon Coleman out after the third offensive play of the game with an ankle injury, wide receiver Trent Taylor had surgery on his broken pinkie toe, Taylor could come back from the injury in time for the regular season, running back Raheem Mostert and defensive lineman DJ Jones left at the end of Saturday night’s game Mostert with a concussion and Jones with a knee.

#2 Compare the quarterbacks Nick Mullens, who threw for 11 for 17 for 105 yards, and CJ Beathard, who went 13-17 for 145 yards. Looks like the quarterbacking situation at least for the first preseason game is a good problem to have for head coach Kyle Shanahan.

David does the San Francisco 49ers podcasts each Wednesday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com