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Golden Nuggets: CBS names ‘81 NFC Championship win as the 49ers greatest franchise win

Your daily San Francisco 49ers links for Saturday, February 27, 2021

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Dallas Cowboys v San Francisco 49ers

CBS Sports went through each team in the NFL’s history to determine their greatest victories of all-time. For the 49ers, CBS didn’t choose one of the five Super Bowl wins. Instead, the NFC Championship from 1981.

Naming the greatest win for all 32 NFL teams: Tom Brady led Patriots, Buccaneers to their greatest victories

San Francisco 49ers

Greatest win: 1981 NFC Championship Game: 49ers 28, Cowboys 27

Runner-up: Super Bowl XXIII: 49ers 20, Bengals 16

Trailing by six points, the 49ers needed to travel 89 yards in less than five minutes against Dallas’ “Doomsday” defense. Instead of looking for the big play, the 49ers relied on several sweeping runs by Lenvil Elliott, two clutch catches by Freddie Solomon and a 14-yard run by Solomon on a reverse. Facing a third down on the Cowboys’ six-yard line, Joe Montana rolled right, avoided the Cowboys’ pass rush and threw the ball to a spot in the end zone where he hoped receiver Dwight Clark would be. Clark, who was predictably in the right spot, jumped in the air and snared in Montana’s pass.

The 49ers’ defense still had to stop the Cowboys’ offense, who got the ball back at their 25-yard line with two timeouts and 51 seconds left. The crowd got tense after Danny White hit Drew Pearson for 31 yards on the Cowboys’ first play. But on the next play, White lost the ball after getting hit by Lawrence Pillers. The ball was scooped up by Jim Stuckey, who in his arms held the 49ers’ first Super Bowl ticket.

“You just beat America’s Team,” Cowboys defensive end Ed “Too Tall’ Jones told Montana, as recalled by Clark two decades later. “Well,” Montana replied, “you can sit at home with the rest of America and watch the Super Bowl.”

Cam Newton should be 49ers starting QB in 2021, not Jimmy Garoppolo

The most impressive part of Newton’s performance has been his ability to avoid negative plays. Mobile quarterbacks are often more prone to fumbling and taking drive-killing sacks, but Newton has fumbled, thrown interceptions, and taken sacks at a lower rate than Garoppolo since 2018.

A cursory look at the comparison might raise questions about the types of throws each quarterback is making. Newton’s numbers might suggest he’s taking fewer chances than Garoppolo downfield. A deeper dive into the stats show that’s actually not the case.

Per Pro Football Focus’ passing direction charts, 36.4% of Newton’s throws since 2018 have traveled at least 10 yards downfield (9.2% have traveled at least 20 yards). Only 34.2% of Garoppolo’s passes have traveled at least 10 yards downfield over the same period (7.8% at least 20). Furthermore, on those throws, Newton has completed them more often (55.0% to 54.2%) and thrown interceptions at a noticeably lower rate (4.5% to 6.0%) than Garoppolo.

49ers will meet with Syracuse DB Trill Williams

According to Justin Melo of The Draft Network, the San Francisco 49ers plan to meet virtually with former Syracuse defensive back Trill Williams. He will also meet with the Seattle Seahawks, New York Jets, Atlanta Falcons, Oakland Raiders, and several other teams.

Melo notes that there is no consensus on which position Williams will play in the NFL, with some teams picturing the defender as a safety and others seeing him as a cornerback. However, versatility is a trait that head coach Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers value.

Kirk Cousins vs Jimmy Garoppolo – Who Makes More Sense?

It’s arguable that the 49ers would have made the playoffs had Cousins been their quarterback last season.

That could be true, but it still doesn’t mean he’s a better fit than Garoppolo. He’s exponentially more expensive, and takes more late-game risks.

In their careers, Cousins has thrown 31 interceptions in the fourth quarter or later on 1,082 attempts (2.87%), while Garoppolo has thrown four on 241 attempts (1.66%) (per PFR).

He would also cost a lot more than Garoppolo. He would be $31 million on the cap ($41 million dead) in 2021, and another $45 million in 2022 (per Spotrac). His contract makes Garoppolo’s $26.4 million cap hit in 2021 and $27 million cap hit in 2022 look like a bargain.

Cousins would improve the 49ers’ passing numbers, but his salary would hurt the overall talent on the roster.

Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers’ QB situation — a conversation with Greg Cosell

You can sit here and say what you want about Garoppolo, and I’m not gonna sit here and tell you that Jimmy Garoppolo is a top-five quarterback in the league, but he did get to a Super Bowl with Jimmy Garoppolo. People seem to forget that. He was pretty efficient that year. They had a good offense. Now, obviously in those two playoff games he didn’t have to throw much at all but, hey, that’s the way it played out. They certainly were an efficient offense in 2019 when they got to the Super Bowl.

And I can’t answer why people for the most part see Garoppolo — I don’t want to say as a bad player — but for the most part, people see Garoppolo as just a guy. And like I said, you’re not gonna say he’s a top-five quarterback in the league, but he was certainly better than just a guy in 2019.

Better know a prospect: A late-round DL option for 49ers

West Virginia defensive lineman Darius Stills had a virtual meeting with the 49ers along with a slew of other teams according to Draft Wire’s Justin Melo.

Stills isn’t a highly-touted prospect who’ll step in as a starter right away, but the 6-1, 285-pound lineman could be a rotational player pretty quickly.

He uses his height effectively to gain leverage on blockers and fill space on the interior. Stills played in 29 games over his final three seasons and racked up 25.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks. His career-best 7.0 sacks in 2019 indicate he could provide some pass-rushing upside as well in the way DJ Jones has developed during his time in San Francisco.