If Garoppolo threw four touchdowns that were all from the five-yard line and in, he probably would be on the list of winners. Jimmy G went Al Bundy against Arizona. When you take out the drops/batted pass, Garoppolo’s adjusted accuracy was 86%. Throwing for four touchdowns will be difficult to sustain, but Garoppolo moving the ball has been a hallmark for the 49ers this season. That continued against the Cardinals as 19 of Jimmy’s 28 completions went for first downs or touchdowns. That was the most confident and decisive I’ve seen the quarterback play this season.
It’s not fair to say the 49ers won the trade already, but my goodness does the acquisition of Sanders look great. It hasn’t taken long to get Sanders involved in the offense. The former Broncos receiver is tied for the team lead in touchdown receptions. For as much volume as there has been, it’s not as if Sanders has stat lines that read “four receptions on 12 targets.” Sanders has caught 11 of his 14 targets. That’s peak efficiency.
What made his Thursday night performance so impressive was that it came against one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL. Ninety of Sanders’ 112 yards came against Patrick Peterson. Four catches, all for first downs, with 32 of those yards coming after the catch. Sanders is exactly what the 49ers needed on offense.
Another week of winners and losers, and another week where Kittle makes it. If it’s exhausting seeing Kittle every week, get mad at him, not me. Kittle finished the night with six receptions for 79 yards and a touchdown where he stiff-armed Budda Baker to next week. Three of those receptions went for first downs, and Kittle forced four missed tackles. A ho-hum Thursday night for Kittle.
Tartt’s numbers don’t look bad. He missed one tackle and gave up one catch for 12 yards. Tartt looked like a player that had played a few days before. I’m not used to seeing Tartt get blocked the way Arizona blocked him. Tartt is usually aggressive, sound, and savvy the way he sniffs plays out. I didn’t see that against the Cardinals.
Arizona’s spacing looked to confuse Warner, who has been one of the best coverage linebackers in the NFL this season. I’m not sure if it was the different Air Raid concepts or all the crossing routes, but Warner was a step behind in his recognition. That’s usually a strength for Warner.
Warner missed two tackles and allowed five of seven receptions for 47 yards. That’s not the issue. The issue is allowing 35 yards after the catch. The dropped interception that would have been a walk-in touchdown is the type of mistake that usually haunts a team. Warner also had a face mask penalty in the first quarter. Both he and Tartt had off games. It happens.
This was the game that fans expected to see of DeForest Buckner all season. Buckner had a sack and three run stops. He also pressured Kyler Murray a couple of other times. This was the first game where it felt like the 49ers front seven didn’t control the line of scrimmage in the run game, but Buckner was one of the few 49ers that won his battles all night.
Samuel finished the night with four catches for 40 yards. He had one play where it seemed like he made a handful of Cardinals defenders miss. When Samuel gets the ball in his hands, he’s electric. The ball needs to be in his hands, though. Samuel dropped a touchdown that didn’t hurt because the 49ers were able to overcome that mistake, but I wouldn’t get used to that. Samuel is uber-talented; he just needs to find consistency. Both in catching the ball and in his route running.
I’ll be keeping an eye out to see how Sanders helps Samuel. If Deebo slows down, he’ll play faster, if that makes sense. Everything he does is at 120 mph, which causes Samuel to run full speed into defenders, whether he has the ball or not. Once Samuel learns to add pace and tempo in his route running, he’ll be special. Samuel wasn’t bad by any means Thursday. It’s just more signs that he needs to be consistent.
I couldn’t decide between Richard Sherman or Nick Bosa, so I went with Daniel Brunskill, who continues to impress at right tackle. It was another night where Brunskill faced premier pass rushers and another night where Brunkskill pitched a no-hitter. The 49ers right tackle didn’t allow a sack or a quarterback hit once again. Long-term, Brunskill can be a starter in this league under Shanahan because he can protect the quarterback.