49ers hitting on all cylinders; Observations from 38-10 trouncing of Arizona

Here is what stood out from the 49ers 38-10 rout of the Cardinals in Mexico City on Monday night.

Jimmy Garoppolo

Garoppolo is the perfect quarterback for the way the 49ers roster is currently constituted.

If Garoppolo was a point guard he’d be more John Stockton than Allen Iverson. He is more of a facilitator than a play maker. The 49ers have plenty of playmakers to move the ball.

The 49ers are one of top yards after the catch teams in the league, and Garoppolo is a reason why. His quick release, and accuracy helps Deebo Samuel, Christian McCaffrey, Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle and the other skill players make big plays.

Over the last four games Garoppolo has completed 71.4 percent of his passes for an average of 8.5 yards per attempt and a passer rating on 115.74.

The main area of improvement from Garoppolo has been a reduction in mistakes. He has thrown only one interception in the last four games. The 49ers will be tough to beat if he keeps this up.

George Kittle

Despite having the third most targets on the 49ers, Kittle’s usage as a receiver had been a point of discussion leading up to the game.

This discussion was being had despite the tight end having the third most targets on the team.

Last night against Arizona, Kittle had the third most targets on the team.

What was different about last night was Kittle’s ability to turn two catches into long touchdown receptions. His 39 and 32-yard touchdown grabs were the first time Kittle had a pair of touchdowns cover that distance in his career.

 Kittle is never going to put up the numbers Travis Kelce does for the Chiefs. The 49ers offense isn’t built that way. However, Kittle’s ability as a receiver combined with his ability to block makes him the best all-around tight end in the NFL today.

Deebo Samuel

Samuel’s role as a wideback was put on the shelf for a week. It should stay there.

On Monday night Samuel was back making catches over the middle and running end arounds for long touchdowns. This is what he does best.

Samuel’s 39-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the second half turned the clock back to 2019. It was the same play call Samuel scored the 49ers first touchdown on in their week 17 win over Seattle.

The touchdown run was Samuel’s third of the season and marked the longest touchdown rush of his career.

Christian McCaffrey and Elijah Mitchell

McCaffrey and Mitchell combined for 98 yards on 16 rushing attempts against Arizona.

The explosiveness of McCaffrey and the power of Mitchell gives the 49ers offense the best 1-2 punch out of the backfield it has had under Kyle Shanahan.

McCaffrey’s ability to catch the ball out of the backfield has unlocked San Francisco’s offense. The 49ers points per game has jumped from 20.3 over the first six games to 28.5 since acquiring McCaffrey in a trade with the Carolina Panthers.

On one possession against Arizona, McCaffrey turned short throws into first downs. In all McCaffrey turned five of his seven targets into first downs.

Mitchell is more of a grinding back, picking up chunks of yardage on runs between the tackles. His power is the perfect complement to McCaffrey.

Brandon Aiyuk

Aiyuk may have finished with only two receptions for 20 yards against Arizona, but he made the most of them by getting into the endzone.

The two touchdowns last night give Aiyuk 16 in his 39 career games. This matches Terrell Owens for the fewest games needed to reach that total in 49ers history. It trails only Gene Washington (25 games) and Jerry Rice (26 games).

Aiyuk’s route running and ability to beat man coverage has allowed him to become the 49ers best redzone threat. Of his six touchdown receptions this season five have come in the redzone.

Offensive line

The 49ers offensive line was dominant on Monday night. They did not allow a sack and gave up only four quarterback hits on 29 drop backs.

In addition to keeping Jimmy Garoppolo clean, the offensive line created holes all night for a run game which averaged 6.8 yards per attempt when the starters were in.

The most impressive play of the night belonged to Jake Brendel. The center was able to get out and clear out the final defender about 35 yards downfield on Deebo Samuel’s long touchdown run early in the second half.

Kevin Givens

Givens must have heard the rumors that San Francisco was interested in acquiring Ndamukong Suh and taken it personally.

The backup defensive tackle was constantly in the backfield to slow down runs. He finished with two tackles, both for losses, and a sack of Colt McCoy for a loss of nine.

Nick Bosa

Bosa extended his streak of games with sacks to four when he took down Colt McCoy for a 12-yard sack on the final play of the first half. The sack brought Bosa to 10.5 on the season, marking his second consecutive season with ten or more sacks.

In addition to the sack, Bosa finished with three quarterback hits and a tackle for loss.

The 49ers defense has allowed more than 19 points only once in Bosa’s nine game this season.

Jimmie Ward

Ward recorded his first interception of the season when he came down with a deflection off the hands of Cardinals running back James Connor.

It was the first interception for Ward against a team other than the Los Angeles Rams since he picked off Bryce Petty in a 23-17 loss to the New York Jets in week 14 of 2016.

Ward was also credited with a pass defended.

Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw

The best linebacker duo in the NFL was at it again on Monday night.

Warner came up with a sack of Colt McCoy, bringing the quarterback down after a blitzing Talanoa Hufanga missed the tackle. Warner finished with six tackles including a pair for loss.

Greenlaw was all over the field once again. The linebacker finished with nine tackles, second among 49ers to Charvarius Ward. He also forced his first career fumble when he hit James Connor on a run down the left sideline and had a pass defended.


This article has 32 Comments

  1. You forgot Charvarius Ward. He was all over the field, making tackles everywhere. And Trent Williams was Trent Williams.

    1. The more I read the more i realize the ill-hidden truth: Players mostly preferred Jimmy G. to Trey. They do not yet believe in Trey although no one is against him being successful. Look at how happy Jimmy G is with his colleagues and they with him.

  2. “Garoppolo is the perfect quarterback for the way the 49ers roster is currently constituted.”
    That’s a very interesting comment. You are implying that Jimmy should be kept next year and that Trey should be the back up or traded.

    1. Is trey as backup? Trey has not developed the accuracy to be a starter I fear. He is also not a dominant runner. We paid way too much for him.

    2. 95.7 was speculating this afternoon that JG will depart after the season and that either Tom Brady or Aaron Rogers will be the Niners QB next year, with Lance as back up and QB in waiting. Would love to see Brady finish his career here with a Super Bowl win.

      1. That makes no sense IMO. They are both on the downside of their careers, still good but just short term rentals. Then what do you? You’ve then lost both Jimmy andTrey. I believe the starter next year will either be Trey or Jimmy.

        1. Jimmy isn’t sticking around after this season. Tom Brady is going to retire as a Forty Niner! The 49ers should have signed him in 2020. He wanted to play for the 49ers, and he was willing to sign a team friendly, 2 year deal so that he could finish his career in the Bay Area, where his parents live, and could finally attend his games. It would have been a win-win, except Kyle’s ego got in the way and threw a wrench into what I think would have been a perfect plan. Instead, Brady won the Super Bowl with the Bucs.

          It was a ridiculous mistake by Kyle Shanahan, and regardless of whether they win the Super Bowl this year or not, if TB12 still wants to finish his career with the Niners, it’s a mistake Kyle won’t make again.

          As for Trey, Kyle has ruined this kid. The 49ers would be wise to try and trade him if they can, for whatever they can get in return, otherwise, he’s destined to be their backup for the next couple years.

          as for Jimmy, something has changed with this guy. He’s finally cleaned up his mechanics, and my goodness, what a difference it has made. It’s something I’ve been harping on for years. That tells me he is actually putting in the effort to get better for a change, and I am guessing it’s because he’s hoping to maximize his next contract, which is one that the 49ers won’t be able to afford.

          Sorry Felix, Jimmy is no longer affordable for the 49ers, and they can’t use a franchise trag on him either, per his current deal.

          1. Trey is not ruined by any stretch and I’d guess he will start next year. I’d also guess it might be a rough year or two as he gains experience.

  3. It seems like Jimmy G. has changed the mechanics of his delivery over the past month or so. He has a more compact throwing motion, with more zip on the ball, and more accuracy. He is not missing high and behind the receiver nearly as much as he has in the past. Jimmy is looking reminiscent of his first five starts back in 2017. Has anyone else noticed this adjustment?

  4. People need to start realizing Dre Greenlaw is by far our best LB and one of the best in the league.

    1. I’m not sure about that BigAl. The 49ers off-ball linebackers all have different roles, and they aren’t carbon copies.

      Granted, Greenlaw is a fantastic weakside (WILL) linebacker. He’s fast, plays fast, and is very aggressive, and as backside linebacker, he has little more of a free reign to play aggressively in this system, but occasionally Dre plays a tad out of control and overruns his gap, which unfortunately opens up the cutback lane when he does. But when he’s dialed in like last night, he’s amazing!

      That said, Fred Warner is the best all-around ILB of the bunch because he has elite qualities as a MIKE ILB, and the MIKE is the quarterback of the defense. Fred is super cerebral, and he’s incredibly instinctive, and unlike Greenlaw, Warner almost never takes a poor angle. Plus, Warner is probably the best cover linebacker, not only on this team, but he’s one of the best cover linebackers in the entire league.

      And don’t sleep an Al-Shaair because he’s got his own strengths playing primarily the strong side (SAM), and is extremely versatile as well.

      Bottom line is, it’s hard to say which one of these guys is the best, but if how much the 49ers are willing to pay is any indication of value to the team, Fred Warner is by far the highest paid. However, the 49ers off-ball linebackers as a group, are absolutely ELITE, and probably the best trio of 4-3 ILB’s in the league, in part because they’ve been together for a while now and so they have a synergistic effect playing off of each other.

      Definitely a team strength, but then again, every position group seems like a strength on this team, which is truly remarkable.

  5. Jimmy G. has developed into a sort of folk hero. He is reasonably articulate and photogenic and represents the team well with the media. He has a certain charm and an even temper. I can see the endearing quality. Trey is a no-nonsense person and perhaps overly serious. Still, his character is outstanding.

  6. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Jimmy is “the perfect QB” for the way the 49ers roster is currently constituted, but if he keeps playing like he has over the last month, he’s “almost the perfect QB” for this team. Jimmy has been really, really good ever since the Falcons game, where the entire team laid an egg. So I have to say it, guys …… this version Jimmy Garoppolo, the QB we’ve seen over the last month, CAN win a Super Bowl if he continues to play at this level.

    I still need to see the 49ers show this kind of offensive production more often, because going into last night, the 49ers were in the bottom half of the league in PPG. Even after last night’s drubbing of the Cardinals, they are still outside the top 10 in PPG, and Rushing YPG. The fact is, this offense has been inconstant for 2.5 years, so I need to see a little more consistency than a 3 or 4 game stretch. But …. if they can keep this up as an offensive unit, they can win a Super Bowl, no question about that.If this team can become more consistent, they would/will be an absolute POWERHOUSE!

    Kyle Shanahan deserves some serious praise for MNF, because his team was really well prepared to play in a tough environment, at extreme altitudes, and BTW, I can’t help but wonder if big Trent Williams made some adjustments with his stance, because it sure seems like it would be quite a coincidence that, after all of the stink this week about Trent “tipping” run/pass, for the first game in a long time, the 49ers offense had their opponent’s defense completely off balance, on their heels, and a step behind at every turn! This was Kyle’s best game of the season, no question. Offensively, this was the game I’ve been waiting to see for two years! Everything Kyle was cooking was working to perfection! It was poetry in motion, like watching a well choreographed dance routine. I literally got goosebumps when Deebo to that end around, and went seemingly untouched, 35 yards to the house. That was one of those rare plays calls that seemed perfect in every sense! Granted, it did come against a poorly coached football team, but still, it’s the NFL, and those were NFL caliber defenders who were left grasping at air on multiple occasions. And BTW, George Kittle should always be this involved in the passing game, because he sets the tone, and I especially loved the way Kyle used his RB’s in this game. Using McCaffrey’s multiple skill set to open the offense up early, using the pass to set up the run West Coast Offense styel, and then going to Elijah Mitchell in the second half, imposing their will by running right at the Cardinals defense, this to me was Kyle putting on a clinic of how to maximize his personnel, and it sure was fun to watch.

    That’s it for now. I’ll address the 49ERS amazing defense, and much improved special teams in a separate post! GO NINERS!

    *Note: I was wrong about the 49ers young interior OL. Brendal is obviously the weak link of the group, but the 49ers OL in it’s entirety is leaps and bounds better than I thought they would be, and they have rare depth along the OL as well.

    1. Glad to see you change your mind on everything. I think you’ll change your mind on Brendeal also In time.

      1. Whoa there Felix, I have only mostly changed my mind, lol. However, you might just be right about Brendal. He seemed to play pretty well last night, and in fact I saw him make a couple really nice blocks that stood out, plus no errant snaps as far as I could tell. He seems to be getting better, but I think he still has a way to go. Unfortunately, I forgot to mention McGlinchey, who seems to be regressing. McGlinchey was once again one of the lowest graded offensive player on the team last night (PFF: 48.1 Grade), and he is really struggling right now. Thankfully the Cardinals don’t have great edge rushers. The good news is that Brunskill has proven to be a very solid RT, J. Moore has clearly made strides, and McKivitz is another decent option at RT if McGlinchey plays himself out of the starting job.

    2. 49Reasons
      “If this team can become more consistent, they would/will be an absolute POWERHOUSE!”
      * The 9ers have become more consistent because they’ve stayed reasonably HEALTHY!

      “49ers OL in it’s entirety is leaps and bounds better than I thought they would be.”
      * Lets give O line coach, Chris Foerster , some credit! Playing together has also helped develop cohesion as they’re now familiar with playing together as a unit.

      “Kyle Shanahan deserves some serious praise!”
      * WHAT? Who are you? And what have you done with 49Reasons?

      1. “WHAT? Who are you? And what have you done with 49Reasons?”

        Geep, I’ve always figured that poster who goes by different names either bi-polar and/or meth addicted. Either would explain wildly different stances on different days.

  7. Greenlaw and Warner are a great duo but lets not forget Al-Shaair he is also an outstanding LB and has done a great job replacing both players when they have been hurt. I would say they are the best linebacker trio in the league.

    1. Coach, the might not happen until the playoffs (Dallas, Philly, Buffalo – if it comes to that). Can we crown them, at least something, if they get the team to that point?

      1. OC / rib
        ” might not happen until the playoffs”
        * 9ers still have to play Miami, TB and Seattle at home! They may not be as good as Dallas, Philly or Buffalo,
        but if the 9ers can beat all 3, we have a chance for home field advantage (except for Philly and maybe Vikings)
        Note: Dallas, Buffalo and Miami are all 7W – 3L.
        Philly is 9W – 1L and the Vikings are 8W – 2L
        9ers need to run the table (to be 13W – 4L), something they should be capable of doing with 5 of the last 7 games at home.
        Seattle, at Seattle is the only game I’m concerned about.

        1. Geep, all fair to good teams and each certainly beatable. But do they meet the Top 5 dline (or top 5 overall defense) test for our oline as oldcoach has laid out?

      2. Rib,
        Williams is great when he is healthy (I do think they need to find a swing OT who will eventually replace Williams) Banks is developing into a top 30 OG and could eventually turn into a top 10 OG. I still think they need to upgrade over Brendel in the off season. The Burford/Brunskill combo has worked out well and they should both be around next year. McGlinchey had his best game Mon. night but i’m not sold on him. He might price himself out of the 49ers next year. Poe might be an eventual replacement for Brendel. imho

  8. Aiyuk is maturing nicely. Kyle had to put him in the doghouse for a reason. Aiyuk may have grown from that decision. Kyle can frustrate me but he is a great play caller and designer. I understand his Dad helps as well. All we can ask of a coach is to put the team in a position to compete year after year.

  9. Regarding the praise for Garopollo, which imo is deserved, let’s not forget a few things and get ahead of ourselves regarding next year, as I think Lance is still the wiser course if Shanahan starts treating him as a scrambler and not a runner.
    1. Brian Griese. If JG’s mechanics have improved — and I’m no judge of that — the credit probably goes to Griese. If so, this would suggest his prior qb coaches were worth crap.
    2. The recent oline play. Clean pocket equals more time for progressions and more throwing accuracy.
    3. CMC. The perfect checkdown option.

    Lance would obviously benefit from all three, plus there’s his arm and escapability. And his salary.

    1. I had high hopes for Lance. I hoped he would be the kind of QB who could move the chains with his legs as a scrambler not a called run kind of QB. He has mostly disappointed as a scrambler, he doesn’t posses a scramblers instinct. As to JG’s Mechanics changing, I wonder how long his shoulder was giving him pain. Pain will cause you to change your mechanics. He has shown a much stronger arm than he has had in the past. I wouldn’t be surprised if his arm/shoulder hasn’t been bothering him for a few years now.

  10. The HUGE elephant in the room

    Down by 10 or 14 points with limited time – can Jimmy complete 20 + yard passes

    that pretty much sums up our SB chances

    No one with a brain actually believes we can dink and dunk our way to win the super bowl

    This a tease i refuse to bite

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