Holy hell, what a weekend. On a Sunday where 49ers fans’ dreams of Ohio State pass-rusher Nick Bosa started to fade away, they were shockingly revived by a stunning upset by Raiders over the Steelers. In a game that many analysts and fans deemed an automatic loss, the 49ers found a way to stun the Broncos and the playoff hopes that ensued for them. At the moment, it appears the 49ers have held on to the 1st-overall pick, even after the Cardinals’ loss to the Lions. What does this mean exactly? The 49ers still have a clear shot at making every fans’ dreams come true: drafting a legit edge prospect. Aside from all of that however, there was a lot to take away from this game. Although a win is a win, there’s always a little bit of ugly in beauty.
- Guess we have to start with the obvious huh? Tight end George Kittle, everybody! Talk about a stud, the man absolutely lit up the scoreboard for the 49ers, albeit for one half at least (I’ll get into that later). It looks to be Lynch and Co. found a true play-maker on offense, at a position where play-makers don’t come around often. He can block, he can catch, hell, he can burn defenders, George Kittle is quickly establishing himself as an elite TE, and it’s only year 2.
You'd think Woods and Joseph would have figured out a way to key the #49ers only viable receiving threat, but here we are again. George Kittle and Shanahan are carving the #Broncos up. pic.twitter.com/uPeR10gVVQ
— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) December 9, 2018
This guy broke not one, but TWO franchise records today 👏
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) December 10, 2018
George Kittle continues to dominate for the San Francisco 49ers.https://t.co/VBnpVyKBoy
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) December 12, 2018
- More of an overlooked story, but how about those two rookies? Yea, I’m talking about you two, DJ Reed and Marcell Harris! Coming in for an injured Jaquiski Tartt, Harris filled in very nicely for the SS spot, racking up 7 total tackles, 2 of which were solo and 2 for a loss. Most notably, Harris made a key stop on 4th down, taking down elusive rookie Phillip Lindsay just short of the 1st-down marker. Although an early sample size, Harris has flashed signs of playmaking skills, as many deemed him the hardest hitting safety coming out of college. If this continues, look for Harris to challenge Tartt for that SS spot during the offseason.
- As for DJ Reed, one can argue he filled in admirably for the injured K’Waun Williams. Filling in for the injured slot CB, DJ Reed enjoyed a breakout game for the 49ers, coming up with his first career sack AND forced fumble, to go along with 12 total tackles, 10 of which were solo. Much like Marcell Harris, Reed looks to challenge K’Waun for that slot CB spot, which quickly looks like will be a position to watch in the last few games.
Go D.J. that's our D.J.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) December 12, 2018
- Man, the Robert Saleh scrutiny is real isn’t it? Although I am on his side, Saleh much-ado proved to Shanahan and Lynch why he deserves to be the defensive coordinator. Although Denver was missing their top WR, Saleh did a excellent job calling plays to bottle up star RB Phillip Lindsay. However, bottling up Lindsay shouldn’t hide the fact that the Denver offense isn’t exactly elite. Aside from Lindsay, much doesn’t happen with journeyman QB Case Keenum. In any event, holding Denver to 14 points should be looked at as a step in the right direction. Albeit a small step, it is improvement if Saleh wants to keep his job, in which many people deem that Saleh is on the hot seat.
Other notable GOODS in this game:
- The OL held their own against a vaunted Denver pass rush
- Mullens’ awareness to draw penalties from an aggressive DL
Btw the 49ers should obviously keep Nick Mullens next season. Having a backup efficiently running Kyle’s complex offense is more valuable than flipping him for a 5th round pick
— Kevin Jones (@Mr_KevinJones) December 11, 2018
- Pettis continues to show why he was worth that 2nd-round pick
— Chris Riley (@CRiley1111) December 9, 2018
— Peter Panacy (@PeterPanacy) December 9, 2018
- Although an overlooked stat, the 49ers offense under Nick Mullens put up 20 points in one half, however, a concern is the 0 in the second half. Even though the 49ers came up with a win, it was frustrating to see Mullens fail to move the offense, and ultimately stagnate the team to a closer-than-expected finish. I’m not taking away from Mullens, after all, each start is proving why he can be a capable backup, however, his failure to get anything going in the 2nd half can be looked at as a slight concern going forward.
- It isn’t exactly bad, per se, but D.J. Reed and Marcell Harris looking like starters spells trouble for the likes of Jaquiski Tartt and K’Waun Williams. Don’t get me wrong, these two guys are more than capable starters when healthy. However, Tartt’s inconsistency to stay on the field, as well as K’Waun dealing with nagging injuries here and there, will put pressure on these two to fight for their jobs come next season. It will be interesting to see how Shanahan and Co. observe the situation, after all, both Tartt and Williams got contract extensions this season.
- Kyle Shanahan, CMON MAN!!! George Kittle was 5 yards away from breaking the single-game record for yards by a TE. How dare you! To not give the guy one look in the 2nd half is blasphemy, pure blasphemy!
"Good job dude. I am so sick I didn't get you 5 more yards."
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) December 11, 2018
- Richard Sherman did not have one of his best games of the season. Primarily covering WR Tim Patrick on the day, Sherman gave up 7 catches for 85 yards. Considering how the game went, I might be nitpicking here, but it is a concern that Sherman is getting beat by low-level receivers. Coming off the torn Achilles has been quite clear as the season has worn on. The speed isn’t there, and technique can only take you so far. Sherman is an outstanding CB, easily top-10 in the league. However, I would anticipate a position change for Sherman coming soon if his speed becomes a major liability. Could a move to safety be on the horizon?
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) December 10, 2018