The 49ers won with an explosive offensive performance after losing four consecutive games. Jimmy Garoppolo led the 49er's offense en route to victory over the Chicago Bears. This win ignites San Francisco's playoff hopes as they soak in this win and then start preparing for the Arizona Cardinals.
We look at my five takeaways below.
Jimmy Garoppolo shines in homecoming victory
Garoppolo was born and raised in Illinois, where he went on to play college football at Eastern Illinois University. Questions have loomed why Kyle Shanahan has continued to let him be the starter with his inconsistent play.
He answered that question Sunday as he had a season-high of 18.5 (input home and away teams) total EPA per play. Garoppolo’s quality play started on the Niners’ first offensive drive, where he had two uplifting plays on third down. The offense was stagnant the last four weeks from struggles in early downs and not being able to convert on third down.
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Garoppolo avoided the head-scratching throws and was five for eight on passes traveling 15+ yards. The deep shot to Deebo Samuel before the half might have been my favorite play of the game.
Others and I have been critical of Garoppolo because he has been the “face of the franchise” for the last five seasons. Garoppolo will bury the “play Trey Lance” crowd if he can continue to play at this level. He is preparing for only his fourth start against the Cardinals as he has missed four games against them due to injury.
Deebo Samuel has a monster game after two drops on the opening drive
Samuel had two drops on San Francisco’s first offensive drive. That would not stop Garoppolo from targeting him. Samuel responded well after the drops as he finished the game with six catches for 171 yards. The 49ers receiving core has been carried by Deebo Samuel all year.
Garoppolo never had a doubt when targeting Samuel, and he efficiently hit different targets. Samuel’s growth as a receiver amazes me by the week. Samuel’s 83-yard screen catch on third, and 19 jump-started the offense. With 156 receiving yards at that point in the game, Samuel passed Jerry Rice for the most receiving yards by a Niner through the first seven games in a season.
Niners offense has their best game of the season with no punts
First and foremost, I would like to apologize for slandering Robbie Gould. I boasted Joey Slye a bit too much in an uplifting play last week. Slye knocked down four field goals but missed a 48-yard FG and smoked an extra point. Not atrociously bad of a day, but you shouldn’t have to worry every time the kicker lines up. Get well, Robbie!
Thank you to Kyle Shanahan and the 49er’s offense. I’ve stressed points over the last few weeks because this is an offense drive league. San Francisco had a balanced attack of 28 passes to 26 rushes, with Garroppolo getting touchdowns on two of them. Shanahan’s offense had eight drives where they threatened to score. Watching the offense have the capability to move the ball was a thing of beauty.
This blowout win was a statement game for the 49ers. The offense has to carry this momentum to Levis stadium next week to get a win over the Cardinals. Shanahan led this team to a no punt victory. The last time that happened was a dominant Nick Mullens-led win over the Giants last season.
Niners win the battle in the trenches
Outside of Garoppolo dialing in, this game was won in the trenches. The offensive line kept Garoppolo clean and constantly got good pushes when running the football. In addition, D.J. Jones and Nick Bosa had great days helping the 49er defense get 10 tackles for loss.
Bears rookie running back Khalil Herbert was limited to 3.1 yards per carry and was given the ball 26 times. Justin Fields was able to spring free for a few rushes, but you somewhat expect that when you face a dynamic quarterback,
K’Waun Williams is an honorary trench member as his responsibilities of fitting the run are highly demanded in this defense. William's ability to blitz, defend the run, and cover shows why he has been so valuable to San Francisco for the last five seasons.
Secondary limits penalties and hold up against deep pass over 15 yards limit
San Francisco's secondary showed major improvement. They did not allow a pass over 20 yards, and they were only flagged for one penalty. Most of the “chunk” pass plays were given up in soft coverage.
Fields was three out of eight when targeting a defender over 15+ yards. Some of them included are just a hair under 15 yards. But it’s still a major improvement as this secondary has struggled with intermediate and deep passes.
This win had strong moments for the offense and the defense. San Francisco should feel good about this win, but they cannot get ahead of themselves. The Niners enter Week 9 with three wins and are far from a playoff lock.
However, Sunday was a huge step in getting back to the 49ers everyone thought they were before the season.