The San Francisco 49ers took a big step in their drive to a playoff berth with a 26-23 overtime victory in Cincinnati. With the win San Francisco (7-6) moved past the Washington Football Team for the sixth spot in the NFC playoffs.
After having a very long list of scapegoats following their loss to Seattle last week, the 49ers come away from this victory with a long list of heroes. Jimmy Garoppolo, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, Nick Bosa, and River Cracraft are just a few of the players that played key roles on Sunday against Cincinnati
Here are the answers to the five questions I asked before the game.
1. Can the 49ers get the run game going? YES
San Francisco didn’t lean on their run game quite as much as they have in most victories this season running only 23 times, however they were still able to get to 100 yards on the day.
Jeff Wilson Jr led all 49ers runners with all ball carries with 56 yards on 13 attempts. Wilson had several nice runs, including a nice stretch with runs of 9 and 12 yards on consecutive carries.
Those two tough runs by Wilson set up a Deebo Samuel lightning strike as the wide receiver would follow them by bolting around the right side on a sweep for a 27-yard touchdown.
2. Will Jimmy Garoppolo make enough plays? YES
Jimmy Garoppolo made play after play during the 49ers final two possessions of the game to give San Francisco the opportunity to win the game.
With only 1:15 left to play and the game tied at 20, Garoppolo led San Francisco down the field to set Robbie Gould up for an attempt to win the game with a 47-yard field goal. The kick would sail wide to the right, sending the game into overtime.
After the 49ers defense came up with a big stop on third down to limit Cincinnati to a field goal to open the overtime period, Garoppolo would lead the offense for the walk off touchdown to Brandon Aiyuk.
With Cincinnati selling out to shut down the run on early downs, it was on Garoppolo to get the offense going.
Garoppolo would complete 14 of 15 pass attempts on first down 157 yards and two touchdowns, including the game winner. His only incomplete throw on 1st down was a throw away on the final possession of regulation when the offense was trying to set up the Robbie Gould field goal attempt.
In total Garoppolo was 27-41, 296 yards, and two touchdowns with no interceptions.
3. Will the 49ers’ secondary overcome injury to Emmanuel Moseley? Yes and No
With rookie Ambry Thomas making his first NFL start in place of Emmanuel Moseley, the 49ers defense would do a good job of limiting Joe Burrow to only 97 yards on 10 of 14 passing in the first half.
The second half and overtime were a different story. Burrow would torch the 49ers defense for 251 yards and two touchdowns while completing 15 of 20 attempts to lead Cincinnati to a three point lead after trailing by 14 in the final quarter.
San Francisco’s defense would record five sacks on the day, but none were bigger than Nick Bosa’s take down of Joe Burrow in overtime. The play forced Cincinnati to kick a field goal which ensured the 49ers offense would have a chance to take the field in the extra period.
4. Can the 49ers defense stop Joe Mixon? YES
Joe Mixon showed how important he was to the Cincinnati offense early in the fourth quarter when he gashed the San Francisco defense with a 17-yard. This was the best run from Mixon in the game and knocked the 49ers defense off balance, leading to a quick score from Cincinnati to close the game to 20-13 in the fourth quarter.
Apart from that one explosive run San Francisco’s defense shut Mixon down, limiting him to only 58 yards on 18 carries.
San Francisco did a good job on the entire Cincinnati rushing attack, limiting the Bengals to only 86 yards on 26 rushing attempts.
5. Can the 49ers hold on to the football? YES
The 49ers are tough to beat when they aren’t sloppy with the ball. It’s been the key to their success all season. They aren’t good enough to overcome the big mistakes.
Turnovers and bad penalties doomed the 49ers in their loss to Seattle last week, this time around it was Cincinnati making the big mistakes.
Two muffed punt returns by Cincinnati gave San Francisco the ball deep in Bengal’s territory. The first resulted in a 49ers field goal, and the second appeared to be headed there as well until a Bengals player was called for taunting after a third down pass from Jimmy Garoppolo landed incomplete.
The taunting penalty game San Francisco a first down at the Bengals 14, and Garoppolo would find George Kittle on the left side for a 14-yard touchdown on the next play to give the 49ers a 17-6 lead at halftime.
49ers 27 Bengals 26
Been very close to the number for San Francisco two weeks in a row. Hit on 23 for the 49ers last week, and would have hit on 27 for them this week if they had kicked the extra point after their overtime touchdown.