Losing is for the birds, so the San Francisco 49ers left that to the visiting Atlanta Falcons.
Things looked bleak, as the 49ers opened the game with a fumbled kickoff return, but the defense answered, and the home team dominated to tune of 31-13.
The defense had a day. The offense had a day. The quarterback had a day, as fullback Kyle Juszczyk said he noticed Sunday morning it was going be a good Jimmy Garoppolo day.
“There was something different about him,” Juszczyk said. “He had this aura about him. Even at breakfast today, George [Kittle] and I were like, ‘He’s ready to go today.'”
Kittle relayed it differently.
“Aw, geez, Juice said that?” Kittle said with a smile. “Jimmy was definitely inspired to play at a high level – he had some s*** to him today.”
Garoppolo finished the day 18-of-23 for 235 yards, a touchdown, no interceptions and a rating of 123.7.
Late in the third-quarter, Garoppolo connected with wide receiver Jauan Jennings on a four-yard touchdown pass to give the 49ers the 18-point lead they won by.
“Jimmy hasn’t been much different to me all year,” said 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. “I think we’ve gotten better around him throughout the year. I think we’ve gotten more continuity on the offense. I think that with the skill positions and tight ends, they’ve gotten healthier and been out there more consistently than they were at the beginning of the year…[U]s just committing to the run a lot better than we did at the beginning of the year and getting more results out of that…helps everybody on offense.”
Shanahan has been supportive of Garoppolo all season, in his own way.
“I give soft compliments a lot, Shanahan said. “Jimmy and I see each other every day, so it’s not like, ‘Hey, things have been weird for five days. I have to go tell you that I think you’re playing pretty good.’ He doesn’t need that and most of our guys don’t. We see each other each day, we’re in meetings together, we’re on film. Every time he runs a play, I tell him the play, so we’re pretty close in that way. He does pretty good with my soft compliments.”
Garoppolo is cool with soft compliments.
“Well, they are far and few between,” Garoppolo said. “Not only me, just everyone. That’s how Kyle is and you like that in a coach. Pushes you. We all want to be perfect and we’re all trying to be perfect and when you have a guy like that pushing you like that, it helps.”
For all the outside noise on the 49ers’ quarterback situation, it has been clear to his teammates that Garoppolo is their guy under center.
“It hasn’t been awkward at all for us on our side,” said linebacker Fred Warner. “I mean it’s probably just been awkward outside the building with guys talking about it…Jimmy is our leader. He’s our quarterback and we’ve rode behind him the entire way. So we see him playing at a high level like he is right now and we’re going to need it.”
That 49ers Defense Though
As mentioned above, the 49ers defense had a day, and it started early. After JaMycal Hasty fumbled the opening kickoff, the defense had a goal-line stand to turn it over on downs and never looked back.
The defense forced three turnovers on downs inside their own 10-yard line. In the fourth quarter, Jimmie Ward stopped Cordarrelle Patterson on 4th-and-1, while Jaquiski Tartt and Marcell Harris hit Falcons QB Matt Ryan on 3rd-and-2, before Ryan tried for one last fourth-down effort that he didn’t get.
Samson Ebukam had a sack to start the second half, and it was followed by a Nick Bosa sack and forced fumble.
“I didn’t know the ball I was out,” Bosa said. “Yeah, that was huge. Samson made a big play. And then I had a nice power push and Fred [Warner] and Samson ran a good game over there to make him flush out of the pocket. And I ran him down.”
It was quite a performance from defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans’ defense.
“You talk about some of the losses that we had in the secondary, not having [LB] Dre [Greenlaw] and different guys in the lineup every week and it doesn’t matter,” Warner said. “[Ryans] has set the standard for what kind of defense we’re going to come out with week in and week out. Kind of that swarm mentality of getting all into the rock, playing fast, physical style of football. That standard continues to be reset every week. We’ll continue to do this going into a part of the season where we’re going to need it.”
- Running back Jeff Wilson Jr. looked healthy as ever with 21 carries for 110 yards and a touchdown.
- Tight end George Kittle had six receptions for 93 yards.
- WR/RB Deebo Samuel had four receptions for 6o yards and six carries for 29 yards and a touchdown.
The 49ers hold the sixth-seed in the NFC Playoff race and are all but assured a spot. That being said, they have a short week as they head to Nashville to take on the Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football.
“We just know what is at stake,” Samuel said. “We got a game on Thursday. It’s a short week. We just got to lock in and continue to build off this game and just continue to play the ball we’ve been playing.”