SANTA CLARA — The 49ers are 8-0. Here’s what stood out from their latest win.
1. QB Jimmy Garoppolo. Bill Walsh used to say the quarterback defines the limit of his offense. Garoppolo certainly defines the limit of Kyle Shanahan’s offense. And until this game, I felt Garoppolo’s limit was limited. Wondered if he could carry the 49ers to victory. But, he did exactly that against the Cardinals. If Garoppolo plays this well every week, the 49ers will have no limit.
2. WR Emmanuel Sanders. Garoppolo is a faith-based passer. He doesn’t wait for visual confirmation that a wide receiver is open — Garoppolo anticipates the opening and throws the ball early. This requires tremendous trust of his wide receivers. And Garoppolo does not seem to trust the young ones yet, but he certainly trusts Sanders. They’re a terrific duo. None of the Cardinals’ cornerbacks could cover Sanders. He made All Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson look like a chump.
3. TE George Kittle. Appeared to hyper-extend his left knee on the 49ers’ first offensive play of the game, and appeared to be in major pain the entire game. Still blocked well and caught six passes for 79 yards and one touchdown. The Legend of Kittle grows weekly.
4. TE Ross Dwelley. Finally made a name for himself with a game-winning 11-yard catch on third-and-nine late in the fourth quarter. Dwelley was one of the 49ers’ most impressive players during training camp, but he had just three catches coming into this game. Now, he has seven catches. He’s becoming a key member of the offense.
5. DT DeForest Buckner. Hasn’t received as much publicity this year as he did in the past, because everyone’s focused on Nick Bosa. But, as terrific as Bosa has been, he didn’t do much in this game. Buckner was better. He recorded a sack and two tackles for loss. Buckner still is the 49ers’ best defensive player.
THE NOT SO GOOD
1. LB Kwon Alexander. Recorded zero tackles and left the game with a pectoral injury during the third quarter. If he tore his pectoral, he could miss the rest of the season. The 49ers will find out Friday once he undergoes an MRI. Losing Alexander would seriously hurt the 49ers’ defense, particularly their pass defense, because he’s one of their best pass defenders.
2. WR Deebo Samuel. Dropped two passes, including one in the end zone that should have been a touchdown. Samuel is extremely inconsistent, but so was Jerry Rice when Rice was a rookie. Samuel could improve. He played better in the second half and finished with four catches.