The San Francisco 49ers beat up on the Giants while playing with most of their backups. That last part seems to be forgotten. I promise it’s OK to give credit to players when they play well. Could you imagine the talk if the Niners had squeaked by New York? That would have been a cause for concern. That didn’t happen, though. Let’s get into some winners and losers from Week 3’s blowout win.
I’m convinced Warner is the best player on the team performance wise this season. Warner finished Sunday’s game with 4.5 tackles. Three of those were stops, and he had three “wins,” which were second on defense. Warner added a couple of blitzes where he was in the Giants backfield and had a QB hit that nearly led to an interception. Speaking of, he also picked Daniel Jones off without looking at the receiver. Warner did give up a couple of first downs early in the game, but, after the first quarter, Warner allowed one completion his way on three targets. He’s a stud.
Givens is another UDFA gem that John Lynch and the Niners scouting staff found. He won’t get the credit as some of the bigger names on the defensive line, but Givens blew up more plays than anyone else on Sunday. This play below is one where he finished, but Givens had a few others where he disrupted the play and forced the ball carrier right into another defenders’ lap.
quietly, Givens was the most impressive DL on Sunday. there were a few times where he didn’t finish the play, but he blew it up in the backfield or forced the RB/QB off their path. pic.twitter.com/SuRnBJNlXy— KP (@KP_Show) September 29, 2020
Givens had three wins and one stop on Sunday. Givens had one play where he split a double team and caused chaos in the backfield. That’s his game, and that’ll be a big help for the 49ers upfront.
Mullens was on target for 82% of his throws, which is fantastic considering the situation and which targets he was missing. Mullens made a lot more plays than I originally gave him credit for. He looked great rolling to his left and getting his shoulders around so he could accurately hit his target. Over the middle of the field, Mullens was accurate when receivers weren’t open. Most of all, he was on time with the football. When the Giants brought pressure, Mullens found his check down. He played as well as you could ask a backup QB to play.
What is going on? For the third week in a row, the starters struggled. San Francisco has played one elite defensive lineman, Chandler Jones, but have made Quinnen Williams and now Dalvin Tomlinson and Leonard Williams look like Pro Bowlers.
For the second week in a row, multiple starters missed at least four blocks. Trent Williams, Laken Tomlinson, Ben Garland, and Daniel Brunskill all had four blown blocks. Ross Dwelley had five, and Charlie Woerner missed two. You know something is up because Kyle Juszczyk is missing blocks as well. It’s tough to figure out what is going on, but blocking has been an obvious issue. The 49ers are the second-worst team in Football Outsiders run-blocking metric, adjusted line yards.
I want to preface this by saying in no way should Johnson be playing starter snaps, and we all know that. Still, you have to look at least somewhat competent out there. Johnson missed a tackle, committed a penalty, and gave up three of his five targets for 41 yards and two first downs, including one big play. On two occasions, Johnson tripped over his own feet. One came when the Giants converted a fourth down. On the other play, Johnson was bailed out by a bad throw. He did have a nice pass breakup, but let’s hope that one of the other three cornerbacks are healthy come Sunday.
Bourne has been one of the most impressive offensive players this season, and that continued on Sunday. You could easily see how both he and Mullens are on the same page. Each of his targets was on time and on the money. Bourne caught four passes for 63 yards and three first downs. James Bradberry did break up two passes, but this was a great battle for Bourne, and he passes the test. This was his best route of the game.
Bourne has come a long way as a route runner. He wasn't winning on the outside like this before. His footwork is more efficient, and he's quicker than last year. pic.twitter.com/Aov7bTIq9Y— KP (@KP_Show) September 29, 2020
Bourne is not only more efficient in his routes; he’s been better after the catch. He forced a missed tackle and had 14 yards after the catch against the Giants. I’m listing Bourne over Brandon Aiyuk, who also played well, but his production was more manufactured by Kyle Shanahan’s offense. More on that later.
Eric Crocker did a great job of highlighting Verrett’s performance on Sunday:
Statistically, Verrett allowed two receptions on five targets for nine yards. He also broke up a pass right in front of Robert Saleh. Both of those receptions Verrett allowed were “failed,” meaning they had zero impact on the Giants drive. Verrett did have a penalty and fell for a couple of route combinations when he was in zone coverage where he chased a receiver when Verrett shouldn’t have, and he’ll need to clean that up.
Verrett’s best coverage snaps came when he wasn’t targeted. He looked like a player that didn’t believe the Giants receivers would run by him. Verrett was sitting on routes, undercutting routes, and mirroring receivers in a way that hasn’t happened at the position this year. It was a promising start, and Verrett should have an opportunity to build on Sunday.
We see the value of a running back that’s a receiving threat out in Shanahan’s offense. The catch McKinnon made down the field where he had to adjust mid-play should not be as easy as McKinnon made it. Towards the end of the half, McKinnon juked linebacker Blake Martinez on a choice route, and that route will be there all season for the Niners.
Jet made a couple of defenders miss on Sunday, and, while he only rushed for 38 yards, 73% of those came after contact. Jet looks comfortable, patient, and should be a weapon for San Francisco all year.