That was one ugly football game and one very ugly loss for the San Francisco 49ers. It was particularly ugly for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who very much did not look like the QB1 49ers fans were hoping for when he reclaimed his starting job this week, after Trey Lance’s season-sending ankle injury.
“We turned the ball over, what, three times and a safety, it makes it kind of hard to do anything,” said tight end George Kittle. “We were one-of-10 on third down…[T]hat’s all it is. We have really good players and I thought guys played well tonight. The effort was there. We didn’t execute very well. I thought guys, we had chances, obviously in the first half to take advantage of our defense playing at a super high level – they did the entire game – but we just didn’t do that. And when you go one-of-10 on third down, you can’t really expect to win very many games.”
Let’s start with the safety. The 49ers had the ball at the two-yard line, when Garoppolo dropped back and stepped out of the end zone with both feet.
“I was just running the play, trying to buy some time for it,” said Garoppolo. “It was a longer developing play. Tough situation that whole thing.”
Safety for the Broncos!
— NFL (@NFL) September 26, 2022
Shanahan also took responsibility for the play that went so very awry, and that was ultimately the difference in the game, with the final score being 11-10.
“That was a tough situation I put him in, that unblocked guy coming,” Shanahan said. “[I] wish we’d had time for the big play and could have ditched it, but that was a tough situation I put him in.”
So everyone agrees it was tough, but it could have been worse, as Garoppolo’s throw on the play was intercepted for a pick-6, but the safety negated the latter. That being said, it was worse, as LT Trent Williams was injured on the play, with what the 49ers believe is a high ankle sprain.
“He’s the best football player in the NFL,” Kittle said. “…It’s just, I mean, he’s the most reliable person. There’s no pressures [allowed]. There’s no sacks. And when you take him out, nothing against the [backup] guys at all, but there’s no one that’s nearly as good as Trent Williams.”
Jimmy Garoppolo was pressured on 12.2% with LT Trent Williams on the field…
21.4% of his dropbacks without Williams on the field.@NextGenStats
— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) September 26, 2022
Williams was replaced by Jaylon Moore, who was quickly beaten for a sack. Moore was then replaced by Colton McKivitz.
“Trent’s a warrior, man,” Garoppolo said. “Hopefully he can bounce back fast. It’s always tough when you lose a guy like that, especially the leadership he brings to this team. The poise and everything that he brings. It will be tough to replace that, but we’ve got to.”
On the game’s second drive, Garoppolo connected with wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk for a 20-yard gain. Then running back Jeff Wilson Jr., who later fumbled in the fourth quarter, ran for 37 yards on the next play, and San Francisco put together a six play, 75-yard drive for a touchdown.
The offense was stagnant after that, and things fell apart in the second half. Before the safety, Garoppolo and center Jake Brendel were not on the same page, and Garoppolo fumbled the snap. Denver recovered.
Garoppolo’s interception came with just over two minutes left in the game, as the 49ers were driving down the field, with a game-winning field goal in their sights.
— Tracy Sandler (@49ersfangirl) September 26, 2022
Ultimately, the 49ers offense had 13 first downs and 267 yards. It did not convert on third down until the waning minutes of the fourth quarter. These things do not make a winning football team.
“I do not think we were in a rhythm at all in the second half,” said Garoppolo. “You could feel it. You could see it. It was kind of the first week with these guys and we just have to get in a rhythm, especially on third down. We were terrible today. I just have to get on the same page with those guys and we have to convert those.”
To be fair, Garoppolo had offseason shoulder surgery, no OTAs, no training camp and just started getting first-team reps this week.
“My arm is feeling it right now,” Garoppolo said. “It is different. You try to do all the practicing and preparation you can on the side being the No. 2…I just have to get in game shape and get going.”
Meanwhile, the 49ers defense was stellar, as it has been (minus the Week 1 penalties), the first three weeks of the season. Broncos quarterback, and 49ers nemesis, Russell Wilson was 20-of-33 for 184 yards and a passer rating of 75.8.
“We were preaching all week, trying to make sure we finished the game and didn’t let him get out of the pocket and do those things that he does best,” said DE Nick Bosa.
— Tracy Sandler (@49ersfangirl) September 26, 2022
He did not look like the Russell Wilson that has tormented the 49ers for years, and yet, Russ is eventually going to cook, and cook he did when he needed to.
“He’s a Hall of Fame quarterback,” said DT Javon Kinlaw. “He’s going to find a way at least one drive, you know?”
Oh, the 49ers most definitely know.
“It can just be one or two plays with him,” said LB Fred Warner. “We talked about it, We’ve got to play a full four-quarter game. It doesn’t matter how dominant we are throughout the game. That last drive, we can’t let them go down and score like that.”
So now the 49ers are 1-2, with the Los Angeles Rams coming to Santa Clara in Week 4 for a Monday night match-up. They’re a team with an incredible defense and an offense in need of work. They have two losses that will haunt them, but on to LA.
- LB Azeez Al-Shaair left the game with what Shanahan said is most likely a MCL injury.
- The 49ers defense forced 10 Broncos’ punts and sacked Russell Wilson four times.
- CB Charvarius Ward had eight tackles, one pass defended (and it was a biggie) and forced a fumble. And that is why San Francisco paid for an elite corner.