The 49ers played their most inspired game of the season on Monday Night, and they did it right from the word jump. After an early interception gave the 49ers the ball, they would embark on an 18 play, 93-yard drive that took up more than 11 minutes of game time and ended in an eight-yard touchdown strike to George Kittle. After the game, Jimmy Garoppolo said that the first drive set the tone for the rest of the night:
“It got us into a rhythm for sure. Nineteen plays, I think it was? That’s the way we’d want to do it. I don’t know how many runs we had on that but, just running the ball, converting on third downs, and scoring at the end. I don’t want to say it took their soul away, but it definitely did something.”
Drives that take up nearly a quarter of the game can do that to a team - especially when they’re followed up with a 13 play, 91-yard drive that eats up 7:52 seconds of game time. All told, the 49ers had two real possessions in the first half on Monday night. They ran 31 plays, gained 184 yards, scored 14 points, and held the ball for 18:55 of the first half. Throw in the pick-six by Jimmie Ward, and this one got out of hand early.
Oddly enough, as much as the 49ers' offense has struggled this year, those first two drives actually give them five touchdown drives of 90+ yards this season. That passes the Rams for most in the league.
In today’s 49ers in Five podcast, you’ll also hear a pretty telling quote from George Kittle about what this win taught him about the team and why Kyle Shanahan doesn’t think last week’s humiliation at the hands of the Cardinals was the sole reason for the Niners’ effort on Monday.