If you had to guess the San Francisco 49ers’ best performances in 2019, the first games that pop in your head are probably the Panthers and the Saints. That’s understandable, as the 49ers put up over 45 points in each contest. Going by Football Outsiders DVOA, neither of those games were in the top-3. Before we get started, could you guess the top-five performances? No. 5 was the first primetime game of the season.
5) Smooth sailing against the Browns
If the 49ers didn’t take their foot off the gas, this one game would have been an even bigger massacre than the 31-3 final. San Francisco ran 71 plays, including a quarter and a half in garbage time, and still managed 22 first downs. The offense didn’t turn the ball over as Jimmy Garoppolo was efficient through the air. On the ground, Matt Breida’s long scamper stole the show. The 49ers ran for 275 yards and averaged 6.3 yards per carry.
The offense finished with a 16.4% DVOA. It was their seventh-best passing performance of the year and eighth-best performance through the air. The team’s total success rates against the Browns were low at 41%, but that’s taking into account garbage time. Breida wasn’t the only player to have an impact on the ground. Tevin Coleman ran for 97 yards on 16 carries. Cheetah gets the Player of the Game award, though.
4) An offensive shootout against the Saints
The next four performances were all significantly better than the Browns and every other game from the regular season, per DVOA. Against the Saints, the 49ers offensive DVOA was 37.3%. They had their fifth-best passing game of the season and second-best on the ground. Jimmy Garoppolo threw nine incompletions and four touchdowns. What stood out besides his stats was Jimmy’s decisiveness. He was sharp and made quick decisions. When the 49ers needed him most, Jimmy came through on three separate occasions. You can’t talk about that game without George Kittle dragging grown men:
The 49ers ran the ball for 162 yards for an average of 6.8 yards per carry. Whenever Raheem Mostert or Breida touched the ball, it felt like they were going to get a first down. Giving Deebo Samuel the ball always works. He had a 31-yard carry as well.
San Francisco ran 63 plays, had 25 first downs and averaged 8.2 yards per play. Those are video game numbers. Unlike the Browns game, the 49ers were efficient on third down as they converted six out of 12 attempts. The lone turnover to Sanders was a tip/drop that I wouldn’t pin on the quarterback. This one is easy to name the Player of the Game: It’s Jimmy G.
3) For all of the marbles
On the surface, 26 points seem like just another day at the office for the 49ers offense. They only ran 48 plays, but they made them count. Garoppolo threw 22 passes for 285 yards and only had four incompletions. Jimmy completed 18 passes, and 12 of those went for first downs. The game is known for Dre Greenlaw’s big hit, but the offense had their fourth-best passing outing and second-best rushing performance. The first half was dominant:
Race to 100 yards.— Kyle Posey (@KP_Show) December 30, 2019
Deebo Samuel: 87 yards
Seahawks: 79 yards
Kittle: 74 yards
Samuel’s touchdown, where he spun back, was the most memorable play.
The 49ers finished with a 54% success rate on offense. Mostert scored twice and averaged 5.7 yards on the ground. Week 17 was as efficient as it gets considering how few plays the team ran.
Deebo gets the player of the game for this performance.
2) Oh, Cincy
Once upon a time, in Week 2, the 49ers were one-point favorites against the Bengals. The first touchdown of the game set the tone. Shanahan ran “leak” and Marquise Goodwin strides into the end zone:
the best offensive playcallers in the league are replacing the tight end with a blazing fast WR on the leak concepts. here's marquise goodwin walking in vs the bengals pic.twitter.com/YRMXR4rj48— charles (#1 social distancing fan) mcdonald (@FourVerts) September 17, 2019
Kyle pulled the tricks out for this game as well.
Leak, throwback screens, regular screens, you name it, and the 49ers ran it. Deebo had 86 yards receiving and a touchdown. The 49ers passing DVOA in this game was 96%. That’s 28 percentage points higher than any other offensive performance of the year. Garoppolo threw three touchdowns on 26 attempts for 296 yards.
The rushing performance was the fourth-best by DVOA. Breida ran for 121 yards on 12 carries. Mostert carried it 13 times for 83 yards. Jeff Wilson scored two touchdowns because the 49ers hate fantasy football. The talent difference in this game was palpable. Cincy didn’t stand a chance in this matchup. Breida gets the game ball in this one.
1) Send ‘em packing
The best offensive performance of the season came against the Packers. The 49ers had their second-best performance against the pass and third against the run. This game was supposed to be the beginning of the “gauntlet.” San Francisco quickly showed teams that they were the gauntlet. This primetime matchup was a walk in the park for the offense. Scoring a touchdown in every quarter, San Francisco scored 37 points on 45 plays. That should be enough, but 16 first downs and 7.5 yards per play were the cherries on top. This is despite going 3-9 on third down.
Kittle gets the game ball against the Packers:
Nobody else had more than two receptions. Even on the ground, nobody ran for over 50 yards. Kittle more than made up for it, though.
Looking back at these box scores, you see Shanahan’s brilliance and the players executing. Even with a new cast of weapons, the 49ers should be even better on this side of the ball in 2020.