Good morning folks, we’ve got a ton of reading and quite a bit to unpack today, so let’s get to it. The 49ers won their third game of the season, holding on late after a decisive first half, despite an end-of-game blunder which turned the ball over to the Broncos with 4 seconds remaining after a poorly-managed victory formation.
- George Kittle
The emerging super-star TE had already put together a magnificent season, but turned in a career game against the Denver Broncos. He came into week 14 needing 72 receiving yards to match Vernon Davis’ season yardage record for 49ers TEs (965), and 107 yards to become the first 49ers TE to reach the 1,000 yard mark in a season. Both of these records were easily attainable by season’s end, but why wait? Kittle put together 210 receiving yards in the first half, although remaining quiet through the rest of the game, leaving him with a total of 1,103 yards on the season. He ultimately fell short of the NFL record 214 receiving yards for a TE in a single game, but cemented his place in 49ers history nevertheless.
- 49ers win, but maintain draft positioning
In a lost season where the ultimate silver-lining will be draft positioning in 2019, the 49ers have been bitterly fighting the Oakland Raiders (as well as the Arizona Cardinals, and previously the New York Giants) for the title of “Worst Team in the NFL”. During the first half blowout, it seemed as though the 49ers were quickly playing themselves out of the opportunity to draft Nick Bosa, and as time expired, many 49ers fans began considering other scenarios to bolster the pass rush for 2019. But, the Football Gods smiled upon us. Former 49er (and my new favorite Canadian of all time) and current Raider TE Derek Carrier punched in the go-ahead score, and subsequently, Pittsburgh Steelers’ kicker Chris Boswell slipped on the tying field goal, handing the Raiders the W. Even though the 49ers won, they somehow maintained the inside track to the #1 overall pick.
- Rookies showed up
WR Dante Pettis, despite a demoralizing 3rd down drop, put together another solid game, including a 31-yard reception to put the 49ers in Denver territory. He hauled in his fourth TD in three games, bringing his totals to 12 receptions (on 21 targets) for 255 yards and 4 TDs over that span.
CB D.J. Reed had a monster day in his new assignment filling in for the injured K’Waun Williams, racking up 12 total tackles (10 solo, 3 for loss), a sack, and a forced fumble. Tarvarius Moore, a player that I’ve been really excited about, had an excellent special teams day, delivering several fundamentally sound, jarring hits.
UDFA RB Jeff Wilson, Jr. put together another solid day on the ground, collecting 96 yards on 24 touches - not the most efficient day, but the final stat line doesn’t really match up with the eye test. He looked very decisive and slippery through the first half, before the offense was seemingly put on ice.
Ronald Blair III racked up another sack, bringing his season total to 5.5. He’s been an extremely valuable rotational player, providing the type of sack numbers (as a backup) that we’ve seen from our starters over the past few years.
Nick Mullens put together another 300+ yard game through the air, as well as another multi-TD effort. He’s a hair short of 1500 passing yards over this 5 game stretch, and has contributed 9 TDs to 6 INTs. Although Jimmy Garoppolo is the 49ers’ QB, I’ll feel much more secure having Mullens as a backup in 2019 - perhaps it’s time to start preparing ourselves for what may or may not happen with C.J. Beathard in the coming offseason.
The 49ers (and Raiders) now enter into a three-way tie with the Arizona Cardinals in terms of record, and the latter’s strength of schedule more closely aligns with the 49ers. The unfortunate truth is that until further notice, we’re now rooting for the Cardinals to win some games too. Gross.
I apologize about the previous blurb, and would like to leave you fine folks on a good note. Joe Staley recorded his third reception of his NFL career, later admitting to the press that coaches teach linemen to bat down such tipped passes - but compared the errant ball to pizza, remarking, “... a lineman sees the ball in the air and you’re not not going to catch it, right? It’s like telling me ‘Hey, there’s pizza here, but don’t have slice.’”
Hot seats cool off after an upset win | Ostler, SF Chronicle
49ers turn ball over on downs in botched Victory Formation | Chan, NBC Sports Bay Area
49ers still #1 in draft pick positioning | Madson, Ninerswire