Yes indeed Empire faithful, welcome back to (or back to) another (victory) ride in the SIlverado, with your boy Kev. Feels good to be back in the winners circle. Man oh man, what a game right? Another nail bitter. Fresh off a tough overtime loss to the division rival Seattle Seahawks, the San Francisco 49ers were forced to take their focus off the rear view mirror, man up, and focus on what’s in front of them. That being their second match up vs another division rival: The Arizona Cardinals. The same Cardinals the 49ers had to dig deep to escape defeat two weeks prior.

Okay, a quick recap of how the game started, then I’ll let you view some highlights to tell the rest of the story. Down by 16 in the 2nd quarter, absolutely nothing working on offense, the result was their first three drives yielding no points and in a 16 point hole. Meanwhile, the Arizona offense was clicking – and to make matters worse – they were being escorted down the field assisted with penalties committed by the defense.

But, like the resilient group this is, the 49ers kept fighting! After scoring a much needed touchdown on their fourth drive, then a field goal just before the half, and a early 2nd half touchdown, the 49ers rattled off 17 unanswered points, taking the lead 17-16. It was punch, counter punch from then on.

We’re live and direct from again from Levi’s Stadium with that good home field advantage for the third week in a row. I say that to say, instead of touring the Bay Area, we’ll take a short tour of the Santa Clara area and act like we’re tourists, do some talking, take some pictures, you know, do what tourists do. But first, do us both a favor and click in that safety belt and we’ll be on our way. Now let’s get down to what’s most important. What Head Coach Kyle Shanahan and General Manager John Lynch will need to do to again protect home field while simultaneously cook up another gourmet meal, and win number 10.

The evolution of Jimmy (From Good to Great)

In round two of Jimmy Garoppolo vs the Cardinals Jimmy had another career day, but it was also a combination of Good Jimmy and Bad Jimmy. He finished the day 24/45, 424 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Below you can see the worst of his two interceptions (the other was a rushed pass intended for Ross Dwelley that was tipped) on the day.

By now there should be no secret which Jimmy this was. If there’s any confusion, allow me, as I take us back to our childhood for a moment via a knock, knock joke.

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?

Jimmy.

Jimmy who?

BAD JIMMY.

I’ve watched that play multiple times and still have no clue who he was trying to get the ball to, other than Jordan Hicks. I’ve even watched this play in slow motion, as some said the pass was deflected leaving his hand. Nah, that wasn’t it. I’ve of course watched in live game speed, and only come to one conclusion. As Rob Lowder said, “Jimmy threw it right to Hicks.”  I’ve even tried the maybe game. Well maybe someone ran the wrong route, NOPE. Wrong answer again. Oh, well maybe someone just took too long to run their route and get out of their break. Again, NOPE, wrong answer. It was just a case of Bad Jimmy showing up and making a terrible throw/decision.

For the record, I’m not just harping on the negative. I’m simply being transparent in my assessment and acknowledging both Good Jimmy and Bad Jimmy moments. I fully understand, though Jimmy has been in the league seven years now, he has limited starting experience and is still growing. Quick fun fact about the Bad Jimmy vs Good Jimmy dichotomy, per the stat below provided by Josh Dubow, he recovers and even excels once Bad Jimmy makes his appearance.

Perhaps once the Bad Jimmy appearance results in a turnover, Good Jimmy says, “I’ll take it from here.” Not sure what it is, but let’s just hope the longer he plays the less this is an issue and it results in more wins than losses. That said, let’s now get to the Good (evolving into Great) Jimmy moments, and there were plenty. Below are his two touchdowns passes to Ross Dwelley and his touchdown passes to Kendrick Bourne, and the best of them all, the go ahead touchdown to Jeff Wilson Jr.

The above four plays, were vintage Good Jimmy! The beauty of the touchdown pass to Wilson, he’d been patiently waiting for his shot all game. Then on the most important drive and most important play, his number was called and he was ready. Someone once said, “If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready”, and clearly, Wilson lives by that creed. Keep in mind, this was Wilson’s first touch of the game and his first receiving touchdown of his career, and the game winning touchdown. Good show Mr. Wilson.

Offensive Line (Help suppress Bad Jimmy and open running lanes)

I’ve never been one to dance around a point or pull punches, as I’m a straight shooter, and that won’t change now. The last few games this offensive line hasn’t been very good at all. I won’t say bad as the running game struggles are partly attributed to teams stacking the box, making a full commitment to shut the run game down. Be it not getting any push upfront creating holes for the running backs or simply not providing time for Jimmy to get the ball to his play makers accurately.

It’s been hard to watch for the most part the last few weeks, but the 49ers have found a way (via the arm of Jimmy) to win two of the last three games. Now understand, I’m not just speaking on a whim, the numbers say it all. Fans lie, analysts lie, NUMBERS DON’T! The last three games the run game has been almost non-existent and has produced the following numbers the last three weeks: 101 rushing yards vs Arizona (away), 87 rushing yards vs Seattle (home), 34 rushing yards vs Arizona (home). Over that same span, the offensive line has allowed 8 sacks and countless pressures as well.

Below, is a look at the match ups in terms of the 49ers offensive line vs the Packers defense.

With the potential return of the best tight end in the game aka “the people’s tight end George Kittle and a healthy Emmanuel Sanders, and Kyle Juszczyk , coupled with the emergence of Deebo Samuel, the Green Bay Packers will be less likely to stack the box, as there are now more viable threats in the passing game for the 49ers. This will require the Packers to pull defenders out the box to help defend the threats in the passing game. This bodes very well for the 49ers. That’s the good news.

The bad news is, the Packers have a pair of Smith brothers in Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith that can get after the quarterback (the two have 18.5 sacks combined and 38 quarterback hits), and a stud defensive tackle in and Kenny Clark who can also take up space, eat up blockers, and have a say so in which Jimmy leads the way on Sunday.

IMPORTANT TO NOTE: The Packers are ranked 18th in rush yards allowed (102.1) per game and 11th in pass yards (253.9) per game (via NFL.com). This offensive line will be the key to the 49ers success. The better they perform, the more Good Jimmy will be seen. The worse they perform, all signs point to Bad Jimmy taking over. Let’s go hogs, get it together!

Samuel, Deebo Samuel (Feed him) 

HERE COMES DEEBO!

WHO?

DEE-BO!

Deebo lead all receivers on Sunday with 8 catches for 134 yards, but below was his most impressive. Now that’s concentration! Great catch Deebo.

This young man is a straight DAWG and is very fun to watch. He does it all: bubble screens, jet sweeps, getting open down field, contested catches, you name it. Little by little, Jimmy has become more and more confident in Deebo, and rightly so. Missing Kittle and Sanders, Jimmy and the 49ers needed somebody to step up, and Deebo has done so. The last two games, Deebo has been playing out of his mind, accumulating 16 catches for 246 yards. Guess it’s safe to say……….(refer to pic below)

How good has Deebo been? Look no further than the tweet below. He is the first rookie in the teams history to have at least 8 catches and 100 receiving yards in back to back games.

Keep grinding Deebo, stay hungry. That said, keep feeding him Jimmy! Now of course with a healthy Kittle and Sanders, his numbers may drop but he’ll still get his and is clearly earned his role as a starter.  You have to find a way to get him touches. He’s yet another threat to defenses and weapon for Jimmy. Not to mention, it’s now known Deebo can be trusted and will be ready when his number is called.

Find the defense from first 7 games

This 49ers defense took the league by storm the first seven games of the season, playing suffocating defense. Be it forced fumbles, interceptions, pressures, sacks, or hurries, this defense was lights out. Was being the operative term. They haven’t been terrible by any means, just not as good as they were to start the season. In their defense, the last three games they faced two mobile quarterbacks in Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson.

It’s much more difficult to execute a “go get the quarterback” game plan when said quarterback is either arguably the fastest man on the field (Murray) when on defense and the other is an escape artist (Wilson). Add in injuries, fatigue (short weeks), and teams game planning to limit what you do best, it’s tough sledding.

How tough? How much of a difference does the type of quarterback make? Put your eyes on this stat. The 49ers have pressured opposing quarterbacks on 19.4% of drop backs in the last 3 games, but 33.6 % in first 7 games. (via NFL.com/nextgenstats). This 49ers defense gets a break from the proverbial “hard to sack quarterback” this Sunday as they face future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers. While he’s not either Murray or Wilson, Rodgers can move too. He just isn’t a threat to take off and embarrass you like the previous two.

And while Rodgers doesn’t have the speed of Murray or the elusiveness of Wilson, he is a master of extending plays, making tough “how did he complete that?” type throws and has superb ball placement. He also has the services of running back Aaron Jones, receiver Davante Adams, and tight end Jimmy Graham. Yeah, no walk in the park. This would be a great week for the 49ers defense to be given a defibrillator shock “CLEAR”, to get back on the track and again be the defense they were through the first seven games. Harrass Rodgers, stalk him, be close enough to smell his breath and help him up each and every snap! They go as he does. So let’s make sure he goes down every time he drops back. No mercy! Let’s go defense.

Back at Levi’s

Okay, we made it back. As always thanks for riding, I hope you enjoyed the ride, and I also hope you enjoy the game. This is yet again another test and challenge for this 49ers team. In order for them to take on this challenge and improve to 10-1, they’ll need to again get their run game going with Tevin Coleman, Raheem Mostert, and Jeff Wilson Jr.

Though Jimmy has answered the bell in games where the run game isn’t effective, the process will be much smoother if they can establish the run, thus opening up the passing game. With a healthy Kittle and Sanders, complimented by Deebo being a threat, all should go well.

This defense though will again need to be dominant pressuring Rodgers, limiting his time to find his weapons, minimize the effectiveness of the Packers run game, and contain Adams on the back end.  So long as the offensive line holds up and gives Jimmy sufficient time to showcase more of Good Jimmy than bad Jimmy, the result will be win number 10.

If by chance the run game is still stagnant and the defense has issues, Good Jimmy will need to evolve into Great Jimmy. Also keep in mind Green Bay is coming off a bye and should be fresh and well prepared. On the other hand, this 49ers team is again getting healthy, so look out. Nobody has seen this team with all it’s weapons available, but they’ve found ways to win despite the key injuries. Just imagine once they’re healthy. Let’s go Niners, it’s time to show the world you’re a legit contender again. GO NINERS!