49ers have a number of heroes in comeback win over Cincinnati; 5 Burning questions answered

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.

This article has 29 Comments

  1. 1. Can the 49ers get the run game going? YES

    I don’t know about that Hammer. 100 yards total is in their bottom third of the season. And to apply a little Grant-ism, take away the 27 yard Samuel end around, they end up with a 3.3 avg effort. And as Grant would say and probably did say: not good.

    1. Looking at box scores and deciding what worked or what didn’t work makes no sense to me. Run-pass choice is made in the context of the flow of the game. It was pretty obvious that Bengals and most other team has been defending the Niners by putting 5 men fronts to try to take away the edge (not that easy with Mostert and sometimes with Mitchell). If they do take away the edge, the Niners have to run inside where it’s a little more difficult to carve out chunk plays without Mitchell — let alone explosive plays. Wilson hits the holes okay, but nothing like Mitchell.

      In such situations, I’d say that the running game’s job would be to keep third downs manageable. Considering that the offense had to deal with almost 8 yards to go on third downs on average for much of the game (contributing to lousy third down efficiency) indicates to me that the Niners run game was not working yesterday, and a few breakaway runs doesn’t change my view. I thought that Kyle did the right thing my stepping up the pass game, including passing on early downs, in trying to take advantage of the Bengal’s weaker pass D.

      1. Shanahan was passing more on early downs to give his offensive line a chance.

        The running game wasn’t blowing through Cincinnati like we’ve seen in other games, but definitely had its moments.

    2. Cincinnati was allowing an average of 4.1 yards per carry, Jeff Wilson was at 4.3 yesterday and Samuel did what he usually does with that 27-yard bolt.

  2. Good win. But there were definitely some moments of frustration which has been a microcosm of the 49ers 2021 season.

    The pass-pro was inconsistent and Garoppolo still can’t throw a deep pass to an open WR.
    On some of his sacks in which he held on to the ball to long, it could be because his WR’s were not getting open. But on one play in particular, he had Juszczek momentarily open in the end zone and didn’t pull the trigger until Jusz was covered by two defenders. Jimmy has to be quicker and more aggressive on his decision making in that situation.

    Gould is starting to look like he’s ready to retire. But, I will give kudos to Wisnowski for finally getting his kick-offs into the end zone, which is a huge help to special teams.

    Satisfied with the win, but how about a blowout win just to help me calm my nerves.

    1. Yea, I’d like to see one on those blow out wins also. Brunskill was very bad in pass pro but somehow got it together in OT. Very exciting game.

      1. Definitely a good game and absolute nail-biter. The frustration for me is that we seem to have problems holding onto leads late in games.
        But a win is a win!

    2. Be careful AES not to criticize JG here because you might be label a hater. There are fans here that cannot or won’t even say one bad word or criticism of him as if they’re some cult followers or something.

      1. Ricardo,
        I’m to old to be worried about whether people agree or disagree with me, lol.
        But kidding aside. I’ve given Jimmy G his due kudos when he has played well. So, my takes on him are more about personal observations than mere criticism.

        Love the win. But would like to see a Shanahan led team have a killer instinct when they have a lead going into the 2nd half.

        1. LOL… I hear you AES and I should do the same… I’m too old and too much stuff on my plate to argue with this stuff… So I will shut up now :)

          Love the win too but this offense has been the biggest frustrations for me… I had high hopes that this offense could be top 5 but it is so inconsistent. We scored 3 pts in the 2nd half of the last 2 games combined! sigghhhhh

          BTW, how do you feel the game against the bulldogs? I think Jim and company takes it!

    3. My eyes tell me that Jimmy G can’t get the long passes down because however one describes our pass protection it is almost always not a conventional pocket. Accordingly JG can’t properly step into his throws and is basically just using the torque of his upper body. Not good! I was struck by the difference that Burrow had at times. I see way too much of a push in the middle (Mack and Brunskill) so Jimmy is constantly doing his drop with no opportunity to “step up into the pocket”, That forces an emphasis on a quick release or get sacked because it not only limits his ability to properly to step into long throws but makes it easier for the edge rushers to pressure him. I have seen film of Jimmy make all of the throws that a good QB needs to make. Unfortunately they are getting rarer and rarer and I’m not ready to put that all on him.

  3. Holding my breath that Al-Shamir isn’t out multiple games with a serious injury. Didn’t look good.

    Also, condolences to Dontae Johnson. He lost his mom today.

  4. Bengals are a decent team so going to their place and coming out with a win is awesome. Very happy about the W. Still another frustrating 2nd half. 49ers scored 0 points in the second half last week and only 3 points this week. I really would love to hear Jimmy’s explanation as to why he didn’t throw the ball to Juice at the goal line. He appeared to be wide open. Why didn’t he throw earlier to Benjamin. Jimmy severely under threw that ball. Benjamin was wide open if Jimmy throws it on time. And OMG DeMeco Ryan’s!!! I understand you’re working with a rookie who isn’t ready yet but Ambry Thomas was getting torched all night. How in the world do you leave him on an island against Jamarr Chase in that situation with the game on the line. That was really bad.

    1. I think Ryan was faced with a damned if you do and damned if you don’t situation. Those 2 rookies need to get better fast. Yes, I’m curious also on why Jimmy didn’t throw to juice on that p,any.

      1. Ryans exposed the middle of the field a lot in trying to protect the corners with 2-high safety coverage. Luckily the Bengals did not (or could not) take full advantage of that vast open green in the middle. Just because Thomas effectively got single coverage on one play does not mean Ryans was not trying. The other side can dial up such cover 2-beaters. Would be interested to see the all-22 to understand what happened.

        Yes, I’m curious also on why Jimmy didn’t throw to juice on that p,any.

        That’s because, as we all know, he’s an awful QB who doesn’t deserve to play in the league. Any successful passes by him are solely because of scheme and great receivers, and all his bad decisions show the real Jimmy G. At least, that’s what I have been given to understand.

        1. Lol. Some fans hold him up to an impossible standard. One poster even criticizes him because he’s not as good as Montana and Young. In their thought process one of the many things they miss is who would replace them? They don’t understand that perfect QBs don’t exist and QBs better than Jimmy don’t grow on trees. It must be a frantic life when you allow your emotions to overwhelm your intellect.

          1. Dude, stop with the love fest with JG. He is a professional and getting paid a lot and doesn’t need your constant defending of him. Just because you don’t criticize his play doesn’t mean nobody else can. He is a serviceable and limited QB and not immune to any criticism. When he makes a good play I will say good play but when he does stupid decision or interception like a rookie will do he will get criticize. KS and Lynch have already told us and the whole world what they think of him by trading a 3 1st and a 3rd for a raw talent! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out. This offense is full of talents and with a play caller regarded as a genius to be not dominant (that’s Steve opinion too).

            1. Oh so only you get to voice your opinion? There are 32 teams in this league and Jimmy has the 10th highest completion %. He ranks 13 in yards per game. He has the 12th highest QBR in the league and is 16th in most interceptions ahead of Brady. In 2019 his last healthy year he ranked in the top 10in almost all categories and was top 5 in many. So you are just plain wrong.

              1. Lol… And yet KS and Lynch mortgage the house to get rid of him. Maybe you should show KS and Lynch these stats and tell them how wrong they are. Would love to see their reactions on that one… lol SMH.
                Stop with this cherry picking stats. Nobody outside this fanbase thinks that JG is even a top 10 QB in this league. Nobody! And that’s ok, not every QB makes the list but stop telling people to not criticize JG like he’s the 2nd coming of Joe especially when it’s warranted.

              2. Ricardo. You’re funny. I haven’t tried to stop people from criticizing Jimmy, I simply rebut their claims. There was no cherry picking of stats. These are the stats that QBs are graded on and you know that or should now that. If you read at all, you know darn well that Shanahan has said repeatedly they drafted Lance because of Jimmy’s availability due to injury’s, not because they didn’t think he was a good QB. It would be nice if you could occasionally add some facts to back up your emotional rants.

              3. Shanahan has said repeatedly they drafted Lance because of Jimmy’s availability due to injury’s, not because they didn’t think he was a good QB

                You believe that BS excuse by KS and you think I’m funny?! Do you really expect them or anyone to say “well, we are going to mortgage the house and draft a new QB because we don’t believe JG cannot get it done…”
                Are you serious? lol…
                Drafting Lance while mortgaging the house cannot be clearer than a blue sky on how they feel about JG. I don’t know why that’s so hard for you to see while the rest of the world knows what that means. Steve even said just last week that he feels bad for JG because how could a QB play with confidence when your own head coach doesn’t show confidence on you! What part of the 2019 playoff run (when JG is healthy and winning) can you point out where KS shows belief and confidence on JG? KS won’t even let him throw more than 10 times in the NFCCG even when the game was already won. Words are cheap actions are everything.

            2. This is the most curious argument considering Niners and Niners QBs in the Shanahan era:

              Hoyer 0-6

              Beathard 2-10

              Mullens 5-11

              Trey Lance 0-1

              Garoppolo 31-14

              Shanahan had better work some magic with Lance, otherwise those 3 1st round picks, dumping JG for him is going to go down as one of the biggest Niner blunders ever.

              1. Well, not picking Aaron over Alex is the biggest blunder in the history of this team by a mile and I like Alex. And there’s a long list of blunders especially under the Yorks regime. JG has to become at least a franchise level QB somewhere else and win a SB before we can consider that the biggest blunder in the Niner’s history if Lance doesn’t pan out the way this team mortgage the house to get him. But I promise you this, if Lance doesn’t pan out what a 3 1st and a 3rd should give us, I will be the 1st to criticize Lance, KS and Lynch here! I will give them appropriate time to get Lance going, but that positive results better show up when the time is up. It’s been over 25 years since we won it all. Time to bring in another SB!

      2. Felix, I don’t see it as a damned if you do and damned if you don’t situation for DeMeco. Ryans did a fairly good job of mixing up Press Man with Zone coverage and Safety help for Ambry during the game. In THAT situation with 1:19 on the clock at the 49er 32 yard line, game on the line – and Chase had already almost beaten Ambry for a TD on the exact same Press Man coverage earlier in the game – how do you NOT expect Chase to go vertical on that play? I truly don’t understand the defensive call on that play. In my opinion that defensive call was horrible.

  5. Reality check.

    1. Ryans dialed up a pretty darn good game plan. Bengals were averaging 28 points per game and we held them to 23 including an overtime drive. Bengals only converted 3-15 on 3rd down. All of this was accomplished with a 3rd sting /rookie corners and injuries to our LBs.

    2. Jimmy came through when we needed him most. His final two drives were money. Kittle earned his salary and Aiyuk had a strong performance. Jennings is looking more like a solid WR3 who can block downfield.

    2b. I have always liked Jeff Wilson Jr . He should get more snaps even after Mitchell returns.

    3. Gould once again did not earn his bloated salary. He has missed 3 critical kicks 3 weeks in a row.

    4. I am amused by our Monday morning Qbs. Player x was open for 1.1 seconds and player y did not throw to him.

    5. Falcons are up next . It is an important Conference game. We should not overlook them but they are not a good team. They beat the Giants, Jets, Dolphins, Saints and Panthers (minus CM) by an average score of 4 points.

    1. Good post, Rollo. With the very thin margin between 6th (or 5th) seed and shut out of the playoffs entirely, it’s hard to conceive of the team taking any of the remaining games lightly.

    2. The Falcons have scared me several times starting in 2012. At least onside kicks have been almost ruled out of existence.

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