Ah yes, another week, another win, and another NothingButNiners exclusive. I’ll just go ahead and say it. It feels so good to win again Faithful, especially when you’ve been on the other side of winning for so long. And when you’ve been a fan since day one because you were born into the greatness of the Empire (born and raised in San Francisco, September 1, 1978) like myself, you remember the dark years, you remember being trashed on by fans of other winning teams, you remember not knowing what it feels like to win. I for one, have walked around just about sick and stressed out because my 49ers were doing so badly, and even dreaded going to school or to work because I know I’d hear it from students and coworkers. I can’t make this up, this has really been my life.

It wasn’t long ago that nobody wanted to play for this franchise, it wasn’t long ago this team had a rotating door for head coaches as four different head coaches (2014-2017) came and went in the same amount of years. I promise it felt like they were putting ads on Craigslist to bring in players and coaches, wondering who would stick around and for how long. It wasn’t long ago this team went nine weeks straight without winning a game.

You know what though? Like many others, I was here for it all and have remained Faithful. And I couldn’t be more proud, because now, now, that same team that had been written off, has won seven straight games, has dominated on defense and played consistent, systematic offence. That same team now has a restored sense of confidence, motivation, pride, and a feeling of they again belong. Yes Faithful, you can go ahead and say it with your chest out and head held high. THE SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS, ARE BACK!

Okay, I’m off my soapbox, but had to get that off my chest. If you’re still with me, I thank you and let’s get down to business. Welcome to (or back to) the Silverado and this week’s session. In case life happened and you were at work, cable was off, your Fire Stick wasn’t working, or you weren’t feeling well, and you missed the 50 burger (scored 50 points) the 49ers put up on the Carolina Panthers Sunday, as always, I got you covered. Here’s a look at some of the key plays you missed as we make our way to State Farm Stadium (formerly known as University of Phoenix Stadium) in Glendale, Arizona to take on the 3-4-1 Arizona Cardinals. We got a glimpse of the mastery of the Shanahan play calling as he drew up a beautiful inside trap play for Deebo Samuel, and Deebo did the rest with a house call. We also got a short message from the newest 49er, Emmanuel Sanders and an almost pick 6 from Nick Bosa. Bosa was a straight monster Sunday. That guy is pretty good at this football thing.

 

Okay, okay, that was Sunday, now it’s time to get right back to work for this quick turnaround Thursday. Like I tell the young men I coach, “Celebrate and be proud of the moment, but you get the rest of today celebrate what was as it’s now behind us. Show up to practice focused and ready to do it all again. Different week, different opponent, same mindset as a unit, especially on defense. GET OFF MY FIELD!”

Based upon what I’ve seen from the 49ers, I’m confident they feel the same way I do. Time to focus and keep the momentum going and keep getting better. That said, let’s now discuss what ingredients Head Coach Kyle Shanahan and General Manager John Lynch will need to have ready and prepared if they look to produce another great tasting burger, in the form of win number eight.

Continue to protect Jimmy

In a game in which the 49ers’ offensive line faced their biggest pass protection challenge this season , Jimmy Garoppolo was sacked three times. Of the three sacks, two came from edge rusher Bruce Irvin. One of Irvin’s two sacks resulted in a safety as seen below.

Being quite frank and in defense of Jimmy, this was another case of Shanahan getting cute. The 49ers were up 27-3, and Coleman was knocking on 100 yards rushing. The Panthers had no answer for him. Look, Jimmy could’ve told the defense, “Hey, we’re giving it to Coleman, through the 1 hole, and they still couldn’t have stopped it. It was 2nd & 7 (wasn’t an obvious passing down) from your own 5 yard line. Yet you chose to pass the ball. RUN THE BALL!  Oh wait, here’s the kicker….. he had Jimmy take a seven step drop, FROM THE 5 YARD LINE. REALLY?!?!?  I don’t know if coach had the Carolina defense on fantasy or what, but c’mon man. Wooo, okay I’m calm. As I digress.

The third sack came from safety Eric Reid, who’s not a pass rusher. In their (the offensive line) defense, it wasn’t always a matter of terrible blocking, as there were times Jimmy held onto the ball too long, and as a result, down he went. Since stepping into starting roles, both backup left right tackle, Justin Skule and backup right tackle, Daniel Brunskill have both done a very good job thus far.

Though the Cardinals don’t have as many pass rushing threats as the Panthers, they do have them. Veterans Chandler Jones and Terrell Suggs can still get after the quarterback with the best of them and both need to be accounted for if they want Jimmy to thrive and not spend the night getting up off the carpet. Keep up the good work gentlemen.

The more time Jimmy has to throw and the less he has to get up, the more opportunities he has to continue to grow as a quarterback and grow within this offense. Thus, the better chances the offense has to put points on the board. As recently stated, with the running game doing so well, Jimmy hasn’t really had to do much. For example, vs the Panthers, Jimmy posted the following stat line: 18/22, 175 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception. Pro Bowl, numbers? Not at all, especially with the one terrible interception he threw to Luke Kuechly as seen in the clip.

He literally threw it right to him. Right guard Mike Person did get beat on the play and a defender came free, but it looks as if Jimmy had enough time to hit Dante Pettis, who was butt naked on an out route in the flat with no defender in the same zip code. As you can see, he double clutched initially. Perhaps, with Pettis still coming out of his break and having his back turned, Jimmy didn’t feel comfortable getting it out to him. That’s where throwing with anticipation comes and trusting your receivers comes into play.

It looks like that double clutch caused him to just sort of just flick it out there to Kittle with no type of sauce (zip) on it as well. Guess he was truly trying to show George Kittle love on national tight end day. That or he has Kittle on his fantasy team. Thinking about it, it seems he’s been good for one of these type interceptions once each game.

I’m not sure how this actually works, but he seems to play better once he hits that one interception quota. Spooky, I know. I’d like to think the more he plays and watches mistakes like this on film, the more he’ll grow. In any case, he was pretty efficient when passing and had two touchdown passes. Well, one was a screen to Tevin Coleman, but he still had to make the play. Per usual though, he actually made some very nice passes. His best pass of the game was also to Kittle as he hit him down the left seam after avoiding pressure for a 29 yard gain.

Another impressive pass by Jimmy, was this pass to Sanders after he moved Kuechly with his eyes, then proceed to throw a dime.

And despite what some say, he’s converted multiple key 3rd downs to set the team up to go back to the run and is a 3rd down conversion machine. My main point, as of now he hasn’t had to take a game over or be a fantasy boss, and as long as they’re winning, that’s fine. As long as he has good protection and confidence, the probability of performing well and taking over a game is high. And let’s be honest, not having to worry about getting sacked or knocked down multiple times a game is one less thing to worry about.

With his mind at ease, and protection not being a concern, he can focus on going through is progressions, finding the open man, and delivering accurate passes. I mean, as my high school coach Damon Keeve use to say, “You can’t do anything productive, and nothing good happens when you’re OTG (on the ground) during a play.”  Simply put, it’ll be quite difficult for Jimmy to get the ball to his play makers if he’s OTG. So how about you guys continue to ensure Jimmy spends more time upright, than he does OTG. Thanks in advance.

Continued success through the run game

The 49ers have had the luxury of a lethal running game this season rushing for 1,268 yards through seven games, and average 181 yards per game which is 2nd the in the NFL (via NFL.com). To put into perspective how dominant this run game has been, consider this. The 49ers have rushed for less than 100 total yards (98 and 99 respectively in those games) in only twoof the seven games and have rushed for more than 200 total yards (259, 275, and 232 respectively) in three of the seven games.

I’m no genius, but I’d venture to say the strength of this offense is the running game. Not necessarily a bad thing at all, especially when it’s working and the team is winning as they’ve done for seven games in a row now. This dominant ground game opens up the pass and play action aspects of the game as well, because the defensive lineman tend to play run first and so do the linebackers as they bite at first sign of run. So in essence, the better the run is working, the better the play action pass will work as the defense is so keyed in and focused on the run game.

In all honesty, I’d only pass when I had to. Personally, I’m waiting to see all three running backs (Matt Breida, Tevin Coleman, Raheem Mostert) eclipse the 100 yard rushing mark in one game. With the way Shanahan schemes, combined with the stellar blocking of the offensive line, and the burst these three backs show to and through the hole, I for one can see it happening. If thre aforementioned were to happen, all Jimmy would need to do is simply complete passes when his number is called and don’t throw it to the other team. As long as this ground game is successful, the passing game will take care of itself. And just think, as of now the team is missing three key pieces in  Joe Staley, Mike McGlinchey, and Kyle Juszczyk. I don’t care who says what, maintaining this level of dominance on the ground without those three key cogs is impressive.

This next game Thursday vs Arizona, would be a good time to again run the offense through the run game as the Cardinals allow 130.1 rush yards per game, which is 25th in the NFL (via NFL.com). The 49ers are spotted 116.5 for showing up, they just have to execute. And thus far, they’ve done just that. Keep the faucet running and your foot on the gas fellas. Even if the 49ers are banged up at the running back position, I expect they can still keep the rushing attack rolling under the lights in Arizona.

Continue the defensive dominance

Many have said part the success and the 7-0 record of the 49ers is due to not playing anybody. Well, this most recent shellacking of the Panthers can’t be seen as that. This Panthers came in with the 5th ranked defense and an offense that was clicking behind the stellar play of Christian McCaffrey and the 4-0 play of Kyle Allen (via NFL.com). Mind you, Allen had thrown no interceptions before the game. McCaffrey is just a monster and is going to get his regardless. Though McCaffrey finished the game with 14 carries for 117 yards rushing and a touchdown, it was’t enough to derail this 49ers defense.

Allen would go on to throw three interceptions and be sacked 7 times. Though the 49ers are now facing a middle to bottom ranked Cardinals offense, this dominance will have to continue as they look to keep Heisman Trophy winner and rookie quarterback Kyler Murray from recreating his performances while at the University of Oklahoma. Through seven games, Murray has posted the following stat line: 186/292, 63.7%, 1,988 yards, 7 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. The numbers aren’t Heisman worthy of course, but he’s had his flashes and can be a threat if he’s not continuously harassed. I’d like to think the 49ers defense will continue to apply heavy edge pressure with rookie standout Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, and Ronald Blair III while playing a combination of man and zone defense behind it. So far this season, the 49ers defense has given up the lowest completion percentage (59.8%) while playing zone coverage.

A heavy amount of pressure forcing Murray into rushed decisions trying to find an open man, with a stout zone coverage and defenders everywhere should bode well for the 49ers. Based upon down, distance, and personnel, I’m sure man coverage will be mixed in as well to both give Murray different looks and be able to win the match up battle.

In the event Murray opts to try and use his legs, the 49ers defense will rely on setting the edge to prevent Murray from getting outside, funneling him to the likes of interior defenders such as Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner, Solomon ThomasSheldon Day, and D.J. Jones. By chance if he happens to get the edge and escape the pocket, the swarming defenders at the second and third levels will look to make a play keeping any gain minimal. Thus far, the onus has been on Murray in terms of the ground game. With their most productive rusher Chase Edmonds out a few weeks with a hamstring injury and veteran David Johnson also dealing with an injury, it’ll be up to Murray and newly acquired running back (via trade with Miami Dolphins) Kenyan Drake to give the Cardinals a spark (via SI.com).

If the 49ers continue to roll and play this stingy run defense, it should be a long day at the office for whomever the ball carrier is. Let’s go defense, maintain that ALL GAS, NO BRAKE and GET OFF MY FIELD mindset!

We have arrived

Okay, we’re here and the weather is pretty nice. So no mud bowl and no heavy wind. Let’s go in here and execute. Though on a short week, the 49ers have everything it takes to walk out of here with their eigth win in a row and continue their dominance.

Even though this Arizona team has more losses than wins, they need to play them as if they’re the undefeated team, jump out on the early and often. Keep in mind, these division games are normally always tough and the Cardinals are drooling at having a chance to hand the 49ers their first loss of the season. But based upon the laser focus of the players and coaching staff, I don’t see the team letting up now. Just go out and execute. Hope you enjoyed the ride and hope you enjoy the game as well. Let’s break it down one time before you go though. NINERS ON ME, NINERS ON 3. 1, 2, 3, NINERS!