As right tackle Mike McGlinchey said, “it’s one game.” Let’s talk about the winners and losers from Sunday’s game, a game where the 49ers were down five starters.
Kittle has the most receiving yards by a tight end in his first three seasons after passing Mike Ditka’s previous record of 2774. Kittle now has 2,780 after his 134-yard, 13-catch performance. Ninety-eight of his 134 yards came after the catch. Kittle was the offense. The fumble was costly, and there’s no excusing Kittle for it, but he’s carried the team week in and week out. Both through the air and with his blocking.
Armstead continued to play like a possessed man on Sunday. There was a series where it seemed like Armstead made every play. On the afternoon, Armstead finished with five quarterback hits. The 49ers didn’t get many sacks, but Armstead was right there quite a bit. He’s in line for a huge payday.
On the final play of the game, alignment did Harris and the 49ers defense in. For the game, I thought Harris played great. He had a nice bounce-back performance after a not so hot performance against the Saints. Harris was challenged, but he made plays in coverage over and over. He broke up two passes; Harris also had two run stops. It was good to see him make plays in the middle of the field. I thought he did a good job of competing in coverage.
Witherspoon was targeted nine times and gave up nine catches. A few of those were to Julio Jones on third down where Witherspoon wasn’t anywhere near the star receiver. San Francisco didn’t need Witherspoon to be all-world, but he needed to disrupt a pass or three. It was probably the worst game of the season for both he and Emmanuel Moseley.
Injuries have forced San Francisco to dial back some of their coverages, and that’s been a reason teams have had success lately. That said, you have to compete and make plays. Harris did, Witherspoon did not Sunday.
Breida only had four carries on the afternoon, and those went for 11 yards. Breida fumbled on half of his carries, and one of those was a turning point of the game. Those were the first two fumbles of the season for Breida, and I don’t think Kyle Shanahan should give up on the speedy running back by any means. In this spot, though, the fumbles were a critical mistake.
Person can go the majority of the season looking like a competent lineman, then he runs into a talent like Grady Jarrett, and that all goes out of the window. In short, Jarrett ate Person’s lunch on Sunday. The 49ers couldn’t get their downfield passing game going as Jimmy Garoppolo didn’t have the time to get the ball down the field. It’s not solely on Person, but he was beaten in pass pro constantly. It wasn’t the greatest performance, and I imagine the Rams will put that one guy over Person early and often next Saturday.
Poorly timed penalties
Juice commits a penalty for blocking above the waist, and the 49ers go from 2nd & 3 to 2nd & 19. Emmanuel Sanders is a receiver and committed a false start. As a wideout, you’re literally looking at the ball waiting for it to move, and you know the snap count. There’s no excuse for that, especially from a player his caliber. Mike McGlinchey commits a false start on 3rd & 6, which effectively killed a drive. That happened on Atlanta’s 30-yard line. Let’s say the Niners gain five yards, and now Shanahan has a decision to go for it. Instead, you call a play to get the yardage back and kick a field goal. Tevin Coleman, who has been sound in pass protection all season, is flagged for holding on third down as well.
Some penalties will happen that will be out of your control. Juszczyk has been blocking that way all season. Sometimes they call it; sometimes they don’t. It’s one thing to play loose and carefree, but the false start penalties have been killer all season.
Another shutout in pass protection for Laken Tomlinson Sunday. He’s been great in that aspect all season. The 49ers also found success running behind Laken. The offense averaged 5.5 yards per carry when running it behind the left guard. Tomlinson got beat by Jarrett on a couple of plays, but he also bounced back. He played a very good game.
If D.J. Reed doesn’t commit the third-down holding on Julio or get in the way of Warner, he’s probably here. Those things happened, so I’m going with Bosa, who was oddly down on himself after the game. Bosa expects greatness, and he felt like he let his team down. Bosa finished with three tackles, all of which resulted in stops. One sack and two run stops. Bosa also had a quarterback hit and three separate pressures. He’s been receiving more double teams as of late, but he should get used to that for the rest of his career. When you make a difference on the line, you’re going to get extra attention. It’s easy to appreciate Bosa’s game as he is constantly hustling and playing through the whistle. Bosa’s a special player.