It took me a day to realize that it was, in fact, not a dream. The San Francisco 49ers did what they have not done since the three weeks leading into Thanksgiving of 2014, and that is winning three games in a row. Here is what we should remember from this game.
Marquise Goodwin | WR |
Let’s start with the man whose personal tragedies over the past few weeks could not have been worse. Just over a month after his wife delivered their son stillborn, Goodwin’s father passed away earlier this week. Despite this heartache, Goodwin plays the best football of his career. Over the last three games he is averaging 100+ yards on 11 targets per game. Against the Titans, he had probably the best game of his career, hauling in a career-best 10 receptions for 114 yards. He also bailed out Jimmy Garoppolo twice on bad throws, preventing interceptions both times. He was my player of the game.
Robbie Gould | K |
Another player worthy of POTM honors. Gould was perfect on the day, converting his lone PAT and all six field goal attempts. Three came from a 45+ yards distance. Gould has a similarly good three-game streak to Goodwin, having converted every single one of his 15 field goal attempts. With this week’s performance, he clinched his 2nd best career performance over the course of a season. Right now, he stands at 127 points, only his 2006 Pro Bowl and All-Pro season was better where he scored 143 points. With the way he has been playing lately, this mark is very much in reach.
Run defense: Sunday’s game was the 4th game in a row that Robert Saleh’s defense did not allow 100+ yards rushing to the opposing team. While this is helped by the offense that stayed on the field for 34:10 on average in that span, this is still an impressive feat. The last time this franchise saw such a streak was during the Harbaugh era. It only happened thrice in the past ten years. Reuben Foster is the heart and soul of that streak, his play recognition and athleticism are impeccable. He shuts most runs down before they even have a chance to develop.
Jimmy Garoppolo | QB |
Of course, the 49ers new starting quarterback is on this list. While he had some questionable throws, and got lucky at times, he still was as calm as ever in the face of pressure and delivered strikes all over the place. I’ve said it before the Bears game and I’ll continue to say it; the 49ers should sign this man to a long-term contract as soon as possible. Paraag Marathe better whips up a great deal because Garoppolo is getting more expensive by the minute.
The rest of the receivers: It is probably unfair to paint them all with the same brush, but there is only limited space. Kittle, Celek, Bourne, Taylor… They all did a great job catching passes and moving the offense. Especially Kendrick Bourne continues to present himself in the best light. He caught 4 passes for 85 yards and has been on fire since the Giants game. He could develop into a serious threat and lower the need of drafting a wide receiver early.
Carlos Hyde | RB |
Yes, “El Guapo” finds himself in the good category. “But the team couldn’t run the ball and Hyde only averaged 1.6 YPC on Sunday”, you might say. While that is true, Hyde was the least of problems. He actually gained 25 yards after contact and once again ran well when given the opportunity. But more on that later. Additionally, Hyde got back to catching the ball well again. He had some crucial receptions for first downs. He missed a blitz pickup which led to a sack, but other than that he did a more than solid job.
The San Francisco 49ers Faithful most definitely made their presence known Sunday at Levi’s Stadium. The energy in the crowd was evident even to those watching at home on TV, and the team was able to take advantage of it. The Faithful were loud when the team needed them to be, creating quite the hostile environment for the Tennessee Titans, who came into Levi’s Sunday fighting to stay alive in the thick of the AFC playoff hunt. The game almost felt like a playoff game to us 49ers fans who started out the season with a plethora of L’s.
Kendrick Bourne | WR |
Man, can Kyle Shanahan, John Lynch & Adam Peters evaluate talent! The 49ers found wide receiver Kendrick Bourne as an undrafted free-agent, and he wasn’t even able to crack the active roster until Pierre Garçon went down for the season with a neck injury. Well Bourne has definitely made the most of his opportunity, as he finished the game on Sunday with 4 receptions for 85 yards, with an average of 21.3 yards! Bourne had one catch in particular late in the game that really showcased his abilities as a receiver, and I for one hope to see more of Bourne in the final couple of games of the season — especially with Aldrick Robinson in concussion protocol.
I am desperately looking forward to the day that I won’t have to write about how penalties killed multiple drives again. While the team “only” committed (or rather saw accepted) 7 penalties for 70 yards, it was not enough of an improvement. And this time it was not just the offense shooting itself in the foot. Shortly before halftime, Buckner got a sack on 3rd and 11 to de facto end the Titans last scoring drive of the half. However, the Titans got a 1st down because of an illegal-hands-to-the-face penalty in the secondary. Tennessee marched down the field and cut the 49ers lead to three. I can only hope this improves until next September.
Jimmy Garoppolo | QB |
Again? Yes, again. And I only say this because I’m a pessimist and can see this developing badly, especially against Jacksonville next Sunday. I am a huge fan of Garoppolo. However, in all his starts so far he had at least one or two throws that made my heart skip a beat, and not because I was in love with these throws. He either misread the field completely or uncorked balls he should have thrown away. Goodwin saved him from any interceptions this week, but it is doubtful Jalen Ramsey or A.J. Bouye would not have come up with these kind of balls next Sunday. They are the best CB duo in the NFL this year and Jacksonville’s defensive line is incredible as well. Let’s hope Jimmy G takes care of the football on those throws.
It has to be said. It was suspect to me for weeks, but Sunday was the first time the Niners faced a good QB since that Seahawks game. Mariota moved the ball seemingly at will through the air. Granted, a lot of players are on IR, but this is a glaring weakness at the moment. Especially at CB behind Ahkello Witherspoon upgrades have to be made in the offseason.
Remember when I told you that Hyde ran well? Yeah, you now know the reason why it did not show in the box score. Hyde finished with 23 yards, but he also had 25 yards after contact. He also had several runs for positive yardage. Something is fishy, and it is not the runningback. Let us hope our OL stay healthy next year because Tomlinson and Beadles especially do not help this offense.
As you see, nothing is perfect, not by a longshot, despite the three-game winning streak. However, over the last few weeks we have seen a high rise in level of play. Let’s just hope the next game is less memorable than the last time the 49ers were on a three-game winning streak.