49ers

49ers Mailbag: Must-win game vs Cardinals?

shanahan-us.jpg
USATSI

49ers Mailbag: Must-win game vs Cardinals?

The 49ers are still looking for their first win of the Kyle Shanahan era as they head to Arizona to face the Cardinals on Sunday.

We solicited some questions via Facebook for this edition of the 49ers Mailbag. Here’s the result. . .

Is this a "must win" for purposes of morale, energy, confidence? (Max Ferrero)
The 49ers are not in a position to compete for the NFC West title, even though the division appears to be heading southward.

The nucleus of the 49ers’ roster is developing and not ready to do the heavy lifting required for the team reach the playoffs. And some of the veterans are not playing as well as expected.

Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch are well aware they do not have the horses to produce a winning record this season. But the plans in place offensively and defensively should enable this team to improve throughout the season – unlike the past few seasons.

Therefore, I don’t see morale and energy being issues. Every player knows the coach and GM are going to be around for a while. The players who do not bring it on a weekly basis will not be back next season. So there is constant motivation for the players to produce and not give up on the season at any point.

There is no illusions about this team. The organization is building for the future, so each player must prove that he is part of the solution and not part of the problem.

If Hyde can't play, how do you anticipate the 49ers will split carries? Is Breida ready to be a featured back? (Josh Gale)
First off, I think Carlos Hyde will play on Sunday. He went through limited practice all week and is listed as questionable for the game. I’d be surprised if he does not play against the Cardinals.

But in the event that the 49ers do not have Hyde’s services – either for this game or down the road – I don’t believe the 49ers would rely on just one back. Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert would share the load. And if Hyde – for whatever reason – were unavailable for an extended period, the team would promote Jeremy McNichols from the practice squad or re-sign veteran Tim Hightower.

How big of a leash does Hoyer have before Beathard is given a chance? (Omar Rodriguez)
Brian Hoyer is the best quarterback on the team. This is no knock on C.J. Beathard, but I can’t think of anything he does better than Hoyer at this stage of their careers.

That stated, Hoyer appeared to be in danger of letting this thing get away from him last week when he threw a horrendous interception on his first attempt against the L.A. Rams after coming off the worst back-to-back starts of his NFL career.

Hoyer has been productive in this offense. He knows the system well. He gives the 49ers the best chance of winning.

Beathard might eventually get there, but it’s way too much – and too early -- to ask of him to come to the rescue of a struggling team.

Marquise Goodwin stays positive through more family tragedy

goodwin-ap.jpg
AP

Marquise Goodwin stays positive through more family tragedy

SANTA CLARA – Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin revealed another tragedy struck his family this week.

Just five weeks after the death of his unborn child due to complications in pregnancy, Goodwin revealed his biological father passed away last week.

“I’m blessed,” Goodwin said after the 49ers’ 25-23 victory over the Tennessee Titans. “I’ve been dealing with a lot. I’m blessed. I’m thankful for the opportunity. God has shown me so much in this season. I had a lot going on this year losing my baby and I just recently lost my biological father this week.

“It’s just been a lot, but I really didn’t let the outside negative energy affect how I play, how I approach this game or how I come to work each day. I just kind of stayed positive and kept my mind fresh, and I relied on God to bring me through all of the situations that I’ve been through.”

Goodwin has played a key role in the 49ers’ three-game winning streak. On Sunday, he caught a career-high 10 passes for 114 yards in the 49ers’ win over the Titans. In the past three games, Goodwin has 24 receptions for 319 yards.

Goodwin has already posted the best numbers of his five-year NFL career with 51 receptions for 897 yards.

Three things you need to know from 49ers' 25-23 win over Titans

Three things you need to know from 49ers' 25-23 win over Titans

SANTA CLARA -- Three things you need to know about the 49ers’ 25-23 victory over the Tennessee Titans in Week 15 on Sunday:

1. JIMMY DOES IT AGAIN
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has brought something special to the 49ers. The team won just once in its first 11 games of the season. Since Garoppolo took over as the starter, the 49ers are 3-0, including two late-game comebacks.

His performance Sunday was his best, as the 49ers took down the Titans – a team battling for a spot in the AFC playoffs.

The 49ers were trailing by one point with 1:07 remaining and had the ball at their own 25-yard line. Garoppolo immediately completed passes to Trent Taylor, George Kittle and Marquise Goodwin. And the next thing you know, the 49ers had moved 48 yards down the field for the game-winning field goal.

Garoppolo completed 31 of 43 pass attempts for 381 yards and a touchdown. His passer rating was 106.8.

The 49ers are settling for way too many field goals, so all is not perfect. But considering where this team – where this offense – was before Garoppolo arrived on the scene, and it has been a remarkable transformation.

The 49ers rolled up 414 yards of total offense despite a sputtering run game. Garoppolo spread the ball around to nine different receivers – including himself. He made the ill-advised decision to hold onto a ball that came back at him after being deflected at the line of scrimmage. Garoppolo was quickly tackled for a 6-yard loss.

So, yes, he’s not perfect.

2. GOOD AS GOULD
As if five field goals and a streak of 19 accurate kicks in a row was not enough, Robbie Gould had to make one more on the final snap of the game to prevent what would have been a heart-breaking defeat.

Gould was true, making a 45-yarder as time expired, to go along with kicks of 38, 48, 28, 50 and 48 yards. He made five field goals two weeks ago against his former team, the Chicago Bears, in a 15-14 victory at Soldier Field.

In the past three weeks, Gould has made 15 field goals – something no kicker has done in NFL history over a three-game stretch.

Gould has made 36 of his 38 field-goal attempts (.947 accuracy) and already is second all-time in club history for made field goals in a season. David Akers made 44 in 2011.

3. THE SUPPORTING CAST
Every game during the 49ers’ three-game win streak there has been someone else who steps up in a big play. Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, however, has been the constant.

Goodwin caught a career-high 10 passes for 114 yards, including an 11-yarder on the field drive that helped get the 49ers into range for Gould’s winning kick. In three games with Garoppolo as the starter, Goodwin has 24 receptions for 319 yards.

But he is not alone.

Tight end Garrett Celek had three catches for 63 yards. Rookie tight end George Kittle had a big 24-yard reception on the final drive and finished with 52 yards receiving. Undrafted rookie wideout Kendrick Bourne contributed four catches for 85 yards.

And on the defensive side, there was no play bigger than DeForest Buckner’s stop of DeMarco Murray on a third-and-2 play for no gain that forced the Titans to settle for Ryan Succop’s 50-yard field goal with 1:07 remaining and ensured the 49ers would have enough time for Garoppolo to work his magic.