The San Francisco 49ers added to the win column for the first time since Week 9 in Sunday’s 20-14 victory over the Denver Broncos. Still competing for a shot at the playoffs, the Broncos were outmatched against the 49ers on both sides of the ball. The 49ers’ offense largely disappeared the second half but did enough damage in the first to hold on to the win.
Here’s five takeaways from the 49ers’ win over the Broncos:
George Kittle smashes records
The 49ers have a bonafide NFL superstar on their hands in Kittle. The second-year tight end put on a clinic against the Broncos in what amounted to seven receptions for 210 yards, including an 85-yard touchdown. Kittle set the single-season yardage record for a 49ers tight end while falling four yards short of Shannon Sharpe’s single game yardage record. Kittle now has 69 receptions for 1,103 yards and three touchdowns in 2018.
Solid effort on defense
The 49ers’ defense held the Broncos’ offense to 14 points over four quarters. It was a solid performance in all facets for Robert Saleh’s unit that’s been under fire this season. The defense generated consistent pressure on Denver quarterback Case Keenum, totaling two sacks and nine quarterback hits. It was an impressive effort for a defense missing a handful of starters including safety Adrian Colbert, defensive back Jimmie Ward, cornerback K’Waun Williams and recently released linebacker Reuben Foster.
Dante Pettis’ run continues
Dante Pettis reeled in 13 passes on 20 targets for 218 yards and three touchdowns over the past three weeks. He followed that up with another good performance against the Broncos, catches three passes for 49 yards and a touchdown. Pettis dropped a critical fourth-quarter pass on third-down to give the Broncos the ball, who went on to score and pull within a possession. The rookie receiver followed that up with a 31-yard catch on the next drive that helped put the game away for the 49ers. Pettis also assisted Kittle’s 85-yard touchdown with a nice block downfield to clear a path to the end zone.
D.J. Reed Jr. arrives
K’Waun Williams was a surprise inactive today against the Broncos, with Reed getting the nod at nick cornerback in his place. The 49ers’ rookie didn’t disappoint, putting up a ridiculous stat line of 12 total tackles, 3 tackles for loss, one quarterback hit, one forced fumble and his first career sack. It was an impressive outing for the 49ers’ fifth-round pick, one that likely earned him a more prominent role of the defense moving forward.
Draft position takes a hit
The 49ers’ win over the Broncos put them in a three-way tie with the Raiders and Cardinals at 3-10. San Francisco still holds the No. 1 pick, though, tied with the Cardinals with an identical .530 strength of schedule, per Tankathon. Pending another win from either team, it now becomes a waiting game to see which schedule gives either team the edge. If necessary, the 49ers hold the additional divisional tiebreaker at 0-4 to the Cardinals’ 2-2. The Raiders’ .568 SOS likely puts them out of reach if all three finish the season with identical records.