The 49ers annihilated the Arizona Cardinals 38-10 to improve to 6-4 and take charge of the NFC West. San Francisco demolished DraftKings Sportsbook’s 10-point spread and proved me wrong in more ways than I can count. We look at three things we learned from Week 11 below.
We owe Kyle Shanahan an apology
I’ve held Kyle Shanahan to the highest standard after he gave 49ers fans a taste of the Super Bowl in 2019. One of my main gripes with Shanahan has been his underperforming offense under the title of a play-calling wizard. I think we can all agree that Shanahan’s wizardry was on full display, paired with a little magic from Jimmy Garoppolo.
Three different players scored touchdowns as I’ve clamored for Shanahan and Garoppolo to share the wealth. Christian McCaffrey’s seven catches for 67 yards may be overlooked, but it helped keep the 49ers in manageable situations and showed the importance of a receiving running back in Shanahan’s offense.
I’m sorry for trying to take away Deebo Samuel’s rushes. Shanahan abused the end around in the early years of his 49ers tenure and buried them recently. However, Samuel’s 39-yard rushing touchdown showed Shanahan’s brilliance in play-calling. Jake Brendel and Trent Williams were downfield as lead blockers as Samuels willed his way into the endzone.
Both of Brandon Aiyuk’s receptions went for touchdowns as he continues to be Garoppolo’s favorite red zone target. Defenses have no answer when Samuel and Aiyuk are rolling. It helps when the offensive line gives up no sacks. Garoppolo deserves some credit for being nimble in the pocket too.
Did you trail my George Kittle props? Kittle showed his All-Pro ability when the ball was put in his hands. He led the 49ers in receiving yards with 84 and scored two receiving touchdowns for the second time in his career.
Elite defense late in the season helps Super Bowl push
Deommodore Lenoir set the tone with a tackle behind the line of scrimmage on the first play of the game. I knew Lenoir’s confidence was back when he pinned DeAndre Hopkins to the sideline on third down on Arizona’s second drive.
DeMeco Ryans pitched a second-half shutout for the third game in a row. The second-year defensive play-caller forced Colt McCoy to simmer down with sound defense. Ryans used leverage to his advantage by playing split-field coverages.
The 49er’s defense held Arizona to 2.8 yards per carry, forced eight quarterback hits, nine tackles for loss, and three sacks. Ryans’ rush defense has continued to thrive with Arik Armstead sidelined. This defense looks well-equipped for the Saints, Dolphins, and Buccaneers.
Colorado practice paid off, and the 49ers escaped with no injuries
Nick Bosa gave kudos to 49ers owner Jed York for spending the extra money to practice at a higher altitude in Colorado. Bosa called the altitude “brutal” and went on to say, “Three full-speed reps and you’re hurting. But, it does get better throughout the game, and I think we did a good job sticking with it.” The 49ers looked fresh, and most importantly, they had fun.
It feels like we haven’t been able to say, “we escaped that win with no injuries” in a long time. Health is a key component for any contender late in the season. Can you imagine what this defense will look like when Arik Armstead and Samson Ebukam return?