Overreaction Monday: Christian McCaffrey is an upgrade over Deebo Samuel

Every game during the NFL season is followed up with overreactions from with fans and media pundits. If the home team loses there’s blame that must be levied, and after wins everything is rosy.

After struggling early, the San Francisco 49ers dominated the Los Angeles Rams in the second half, sweeping the season series for the fourth year in a row. The 31-14 win allowed the 49ers to keep pace with Seattle in the NFC West. In addition, the 49ers moved into the seventh and final NFC playoff spot as they head into their bye week.

Here are some of the best overreactions I’ve encountered following the 49ers big win.

Christian McCaffrey is a better offensive weapon than Deebo Samuel!

Overreaction

After the performance McCaffrey put on yesterday it is easy to understand why someone would feel this way.

Sunday was just McCaffrey’s tenth day as a member of the 49ers. He was spectacular against Los Angeles, becoming the first player since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2005 to throw, run and catch a touchdown in a single game.

As good as McCaffrey was, don’t forget what you saw Deebo Samuel do less than a year ago in the same stadium.

In week 18 of 2021, Samuel threw a touchdown pass to Jauan Jennings and ran for one as well.

McCaffrey’s vision makes him the better running back of the two, and they are both strong in the underneath passing game. McCaffrey’s presence will allow Samuel to focus on making plays down the field more often and with the occasional run, similar to how he was utilized his first two seasons in San Francisco.

The 49ers will need both healthy to make a Super Bowl run this season.

Jimmy Garoppolo is playing his best football of his career!

Not an overreaction based on Sunday’s performance.

Against the Rams on Sunday, Garoppolo completed 21 of 25 attempts for 235 yards and two touchdowns for a 132.5 passer rating.

His 84.0% completion percentage is the fifth highest in a single game in franchise history. Steve Young had a pair of games which were higher, while John Brodie and Joe Montana each had one.

The addition of McCaffrey seemed to have a positive impact on Garoppolo. On several occasions he chose to check the ball down to the running back instead of forcing a throw into coverage.

Garoppolo also saw success with a deep throw. His 56-yard completion to Ross Dwelley was the first of Garoppolo’s career on a throw outside the numbers which travelled 30 or more yards in the air.

Strong games are nothing new to Garoppolo. We saw him play well against the Rams earlier this season and Carolina the following week. The thing to watch for is if he can start stacking these performances together.

If Garoppolo begins to show consistency it will be bad news for the rest of the NFC.

Nick Bosa needs Arik Armstead more than the desert needs water!

Overreaction

This is the other way around, Armstead needs Bosa.

In his two full seasons playing alongside Bosa, Armstead has recorded 16 sacks. During his other five seasons Armstead has a total of 12.5 sacks.

Having said that, the 49ers defense needs Armstead to return.

After a strong performance in Carolina, San Francisco has seen the interior of the defensive line get pushed around without Armstead to anchor against the run. Getting him back for the second half would be a key addition.

The 49ers need a new right tackle!

Overreaction

Mike McGlinchey is a fan favorite.

Every week there is a play or two from McGlinchey that gets everyone talking. For example, when the veteran right tackle was beat by Leonard Floyd for a sack in the first half everyone started talking about him.

Here’s the thing, McGlinchey is an average to above average starting right tackle. He is going to get beat a couple times nearly every week in pass protection. At the same time, he is going to hold up more often than not.

Case in point, Jimmy Garoppolo’s touchdown throw to Christian McCaffrey to give San Francisco the lead.

The throw and catch were both really good, however neither occurs if McGlinchey and the rest of the offensive line don’t provide Garoppolo the time necessary to sit in the pocket and scan the entire field.

McGlinchey is in the final year of his rookie contract leaving his return to the team for 2023 in question, so fans may soon get their wish.

Kyle Shanahan’s play calling wasn’t all that different from the previous two weeks. The players just executed better!

Not an overreaction

The 49ers offense moved the ball well in losses to Atlanta and Kansas City. The problem was unforced errors such as dropped passes, penalties or turnovers kept derailing promising drives. As a result, they were able to manage only 14 and 23 points respectively.

After a couple mistakes early in the game, the offense was nearly mistake free through the second half on Sunday.

With the players executing at a high-level San Francisco scored touchdowns on three straight possessions to pull away.

So, as Kyle Shanahan the offensive coordinator wasn’t all that different on Sunday, Kyle Shanahan the head coach deserves praise for getting the most out of his team for an important victory.

This article has 30 Comments

  1. If Mike McGlinchey is an “average to above average starting right tackle”, then that says a huge amount about the competency of the average offensive tackle in the NFL. Pretty much every game we see the right side of the line, tackle and guard, leaving guys completely untouched to rush the QB. We should be very, very worried about that as Jimmy is still the same injury prone QB. He may indeed be playing very well for him, but it could end very suddenly at any time with the porous right side of the line. Then it will be time for a Purdy inexperienced and modestly talented QB to take over.

    1. Right on, bro! I never liked the McGlinchey pick. OL is the one position that the 49ers have consistently ignored and it has cost them!

      They could have had Brady as a FA in 2020, and then used their draft picks to go after OL, through the draft or trades, instead of a fragile, inaccurate D2 QB.

      1. They had a 28 yr old Qb who had just taken them to the super bowl. It made no sense to trade for a 43 year old not knowing how long he could or would play.
        As for that inaccurate D2 Qb, he currently has the 7th highest Qb rating and just had an 84% completion rate.

  2. Jack, I couldn’t agree more with everything you wrote here. As for McGlinchey, I’m sure the Niners would like to resign him if the moneys right. If not, they’ll have a hard time finding someone better.

  3. There is never a good reason to over react, IMO. Jimmy was fantastic, and McCaffrey was as advertised! There are a lot of positives to take away from Sunday’s game, but it’s one game against a team that doesn’t match up well with the 49ers!

    It’s worth remembering that the 49ers swept the Rams in 2020 as well.

    While the 49ers were terrific on Sunday, and played easily the best game of the season, the key to success is to play like this more often than twice a season. Let’s wait until we finally see some consistency out of the 2022 49ers before drawing any conclusions …. that’s all I am saying!

  4. Jack, I’m not sure a couple of these are even being thrown about as legitimate reactions. At least not from a plurality of observers. It’s starting to feel like you’re grasping for straws here on this weekly column. Get rid of this column and focus more on the in-depth play analysis you’re great at? Love those.

    Also, with regards to Shanny- I think his decision to take the shot at a TD on 3rd and 3 was huge and should be highlighted. The usual play call from Shanny there is a conservative run and kick the FG. Instead, they put the game away early. Would love to see more of this from Shanahan. Kick your opponent’s head against the curb when you have a chance to do so instead of playing scared. Builds your team’s identity.

  5. Jimmy Garoppolo is playing his best football of his career!

    I do think this game was the best game of Jimmy Garoppolo’s career. The stat line reminded me of Joe Montana’s stat line: 21/25 235 yards 2 TD/0 Int. Big difference is obviously Montana did that every week. Garoppolo needs to do that every week also if the 49ers are going far in the playoffs. I’ve often thought the big thing the 49ers are missing is that really quick slot receiver. Jimmy G grew up in the NFL having super short area quickness receivers like Edelman and Walker. Jimmy had that same type of receiver in Trent Taylor when he first arrived to the 49ers and their connection was great. I think Taylor had quite a few 3rd down conversions that first year. Then Kyle opted for the much bigger slot receivers and it’s hurt Jimmy’s performance in my opinion. He no longer has that comfy super quick outlet whenever he needs it. Bigger slot guys definitely have their place in the NFL but I think Jimmy’s skill set much better matches those smaller quicker guys with his 3 step drop, plant, and quick release. Also with bigger slot guys, the CBs can play off a little more because they are typically quicker than the big receivers. This hurts just a little bit in the intermediate passing game where you have more guys in the passing lanes. After watching the Rams game, I’m hopeful Kyle has incorporated more passes to the RB out of the backfield and that can become that comfort/outlet receiver that opens up the rest of Jimmy’s game.

    1. This is a good point. As you know, Kyle likes his WRs to block and I assume that’s why he favors bigger bodies at slot. Maybe when Deebo comes back we’ll start to see him use BA in the slot, as BA seems to block bigger than his size and imo should play as many snaps as possible.

  6. Overreaction: Jake Brendel and Spencer Burford are the worst Center/Guard combination in the NFL.

    Not an overreaction.

    In fact, when you take into account other teams backups Brendel/Burford probably rank around #40 in Center/Guard combinations. Burford seems to routinely miss assignments, frequently finds himself on roller skates, and often gets pushed backwards so other linemen must navigate around him when they are pulling. Brendel just isn’t big and strong enough to be a starting Center in the NFL. Backup, maybe? Not a starter. Watching those 2 play on Sunday was just painful. The 49ers really need Brunskill to take over at Center for Brendel but they can’t make that switch because they need Brunskill at Guard to replace Burford. In this bye week I really hope they shake up the O-line. Put Brunskill at Center and then Poe/Mckivitz at Right Guard. And for those of you guys saying the 49ers have the 9th best O-line in the NFL according to PFF or whatever that BS was that you spouted, just rewatch the Rams game and focus on those 2 players. Don’t watch the ball, watch those two. They were terrible. And remember, a 50% win rate for an NFL O-lineman is God Awful.

    1. The Niners O line ranks 9 because of the other players. Williams is constantly rated as the highest in the league. Banks has played well and is on his way to being a very good guard. McGlinchy is solid. Not great in pass pro but very good at run blocking. Burford has definitely been bad but it’s obvious the coaches still believe he can get better which is why they give him so many snaps even though Brunskill is much better. I think they feel Brendel will get better as well. Time will tell. Patience. We’ll know more year end.

      1. Your exact quote was:

        Pro football network ranks them as the 9th best.

        You didn’t split all those hairs when you posted that after I criticized the O-line. Your quote is about the entire position group. That’s like saying the Angels are a good baseball team because they have Ohtani. Banks is a little below average – even by PFF grades. Everyone is pleasantly surprised, including me, because he isn’t as terrible as we thought he would be after watching him last year and this preseason. He’s still average with arrow pointing up. Brendel is a bad player. End of story. He will never be a starting caliber Center. He simply doesn’t have the athletic ability to be a good Center. I’m hopeful Burford will improve but it’s ugly right now. The missed assignments are the most concerning part to me. There is a trend with Burford and unblocked interior rushers. Makes me think Burford may not have the mental makeup to catch onto complex NFL blocking schemes. McGlinchey is what McGlinchey is. Serviceable but he’s going to get beat once or twice a game for a really ugly play. You just hope those 1 or 2 times isn’t when the game is on the line.

        So, my point is the 49ers do not have the 9th best O-line in the NFL. They have maybe the greatest left tackle of all time and 4 other guys some of whom are bad and some of whom are average.

        1. “Everyone is pleasantly surprised, including me, because he isn’t as terrible as we thought he would be after watching him last year and this preseason”

          You thought he was terrible based on how he played 5 regular season snaps at the end of the Jacksonville game last year?

          I wrote throughout training camp that he was doing fine.

          This group is really good.

          1. No. Beginning of last year in training camp and then this year in training camp. Doesn’t take too many plays to see Banks has poor lateral mobility and struggles to get to his blocks. He does one or two things well but it certainly does not offset his deficiencies. I will give him credit – he did have some really good reach blocks on Aaron Donald last week. Those are really hard blocks for any O-lineman, especially on play side, but he did well. That’s not his strength but he pulled it off this weekend. I wholeheartedly disagree on this group. I think they are an average to below average O-line. I’m fine with developing Banks and Burford with the expectation that both will get better but unquestionably the 49ers need a Center.

  7. Jack,

    One unreported observation is that, for the first time, Ryans made important adjustments at half time and the defense took over the game in the second half. I have been critical of ryans in the past and am glad to acknowledge his decisions last Sunday. Now he needs to build on that.

    1. Rockne,

      The defense got better in the second half because they improved on the early downs.

      Charles Omenihu blowing up the left guard and forcing Stafford to throw early and inaccurately to Cooper Kupp was the turning point.

      I’ll be doing a film breakdown for the defense later this week.

      1. A 5th rounder for Wilson. That is a terrible trade. At last look Wilson is Avg. 5.2 YPC and did a solid job at FB last week. So now we have an injury prone RB 1, an injury prone RB2 (Mitchell) and unproven RB’s at RB 3 and RB 4. Just to get a 5th round pick. Bad bad bad

        1. I don’t like this trade either. I really like Jeff Wilson. Considering CMC and Mitchell’s injury history, trading Wilson seems very short sighted. BUT, I do hope Wilson knocks it out of the park for the Dolphins. I’ve always liked him so I hope he gets a ton of touches which leads to a huge contract in Miami.

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