49ers

Instant Analysis: 49ers gut Giants, offense goes wild in first win of 2017

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USATSI

Instant Analysis: 49ers gut Giants, offense goes wild in first win of 2017

BOX SCORE

The 49ers took their first lead at Levi’s Stadium. They held their first lead of more than three points all season. And the 49ers held their first halftime lead, too.

The 49ers got huge days from several first-year players, and that all added up to another first: The first win of Kyle Shanahan’s head-coaching career.

The 49ers broke their franchise-worst winless streak to open the season and broke a franchise-long 11-game home losing streak with a 31-21 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday.

Rookie C.J. Beathard had his best day as a pro while the presumptive quarterback of the future, Jimmy Garoppolo, remained on the sideline for at least another game.

Beathard completed 19 of 25 passes for 288 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He received much better protection, as he did not get sacked and was hit only twice.

Beathard turned out the lights on the reeling Giants with an 11-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter to give the 49ers a 24-13 lead.

The 49ers (1-9) entered the day with the worst record in the NFL. That distinction belongs to the league’s only remaining winless team, the 0-9 Cleveland Browns. The Giants, just one season removed from a playoff appearance, fall to 1-8.

Rookie running back Matt Breida put the game out of reach with a 33-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

In addition to Beathard and Breida, the 49ers got solid showings from many of their other rookies in uniform:

--Linebacker Reuben Foster recorded 10 tackles and had a quarterback hit to force a Giants punt in the third quarter.

--Safety Adrian Colbert got his first NFL start due to injuries to Jaquiski Tartt and Jimmie Ward. Colbert, a seventh-round draft pick from Miami, had four tackles and broke up two passes.

--Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon had his best showing in coverage for a secondary that put the clamps on veteran quarterback Eli Manning for much of the game. He had three tackles and broke up a pass.

--Undrafted wide receiver Kendrick Bourne recorded three catches for 42 yards.

The 49ers led three different times in the first half. After being tied at halftime in three of their first nine games, the 49ers enjoyed an advantage after 30 minutes for the first time this season.

Beathard hit tight end Garrett Celek on a 47-yard touchdown pass with 28 seconds remaining in the first half for a 17-13 lead.

Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin ran past Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins to haul in C.J. Beathard’s well-thrown deep pass for an 83-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.

The play was the 49ers’ longest touchdown pass since Tim Rattay hit Brandon Lloyd for an 89-yard touchdown in September 2005 against the Dallas Cowboys at Candletick Park.

But it did not take long for the 49ers’ 10-6 lead to disappear, as rookie tight end Evan Engram caught a 9-yard scoring pass from Manning against the coverage of 49ers safety Eric Reid.

Carlos Hyde had a 28-yard run – and 15 yards were added at the end due to Giants safety Darian Thompson’s personal foul at the end of the run.

Hyde finished with 98 yards on 17 rushing attempts.

THIS ‘N’ THAT

--Defensive lineman Ronald Blair, in just his second game this season, recorded two sacks, including a strip-sack. Eric Reid recovered Manning’s fumble.

--Shanahan will give the 49ers the entire week off. The club returns to action Nov. 26 agains the Seattle Seahawks.

--Left tackle Joe Staley made his return to the starting lineup after missing just one game with a broken eye socket. Staley wore a visor to prevent any fingers to get between the bars in his facemask.

--Bradley Pinon, who averages nearly six punts a game, did not punt until there were 5:46 remaining in the fourth quarter.

--Goodwin set a career-high with his 83-yard touchdown catch, pushing him to 500 yards receiving on the season. His previous career-best came in 2016 with the Buffalo Bills, when he accounted for 431 yards receiving.

--Beathard completed 13 of 16 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. His passer rating was a near-perfect 157.8.

--Beathard made a big mistake after the 49ers drove 64 yards at the start of the third quarter. Beathard did not get enough air under his lob pass intended for Matt Breida, which enabled Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon to make the interception at the New York 25-yard line.

Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals

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AP

Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals

TEMPE, Ariz. — Blaine Gabbert will get his first start for the Arizona Cardinals when they play the Texans in Houston on Sunday.

Coach Bruce Arians announced the decision after Friday's practice.

Drew Stanton, the starter the last two games, bruised his knee early in the Thursday night loss to Seattle last week. He stayed in the game but has been limited in practice all week.

Arians said it will be a game-time decision as to whether Stanton or recently signed Matt Barkley would be Gabbert's backup.

Gabbert will be making his 41st NFL start. He has a 9-31 record. He signed with Arizona last offseason and was the third quarterback until Carson Palmer broke his arm against the Los Angeles Rams in London and was lost for the season.

49ers Mailbag: Should Shanahan give up play-calling?

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USATSI

49ers Mailbag: Should Shanahan give up play-calling?

Believe it or not, the 49ers’ offense is improved from last season.

The 49ers ranked 31st in the NFL in 2016, averaging 308.1 yards per game. Although the offense is producing just a little better (325.9 yards per game), their ranking this season has shot up to 21st in the league.

The 49ers have had a different head coach and different person running the offense in each of the past four seasons, so their continuity has been severely lacking.

Next season, the 49ers should finally have carryover from one season to the next.

The direction of the offense is one of the topics addressed on this edition of 49ers Mailbag (questions were submitted via Facebook):

Now that we have Jimmy G do you see 49ers getting an offensive coordinator or will it still be Kyle calling the plays? (Julio Orozco)
I'm not sure why the arrival of Jimmy Garoppolo would have any impact on the 49ers’ offensive structure, but in any event, the answer is a resounding, “No.”

Kyle Shanahan has been hailed as one of the best offensive coordinators in the NFL. The reason he was hired as 49ers head coach was, in large part, because of the success he achieved while designing offenses and calling plays.

Why would he give that up? It makes no sense.

Rob Demovsky of ESPN this week identified the 32 primary play-callers. There are 18 NFL head coaches with offensive backgrounds. Twelve of those coaches call their own plays.

Shanahan has a staff of assistant coaches on whom he leans. Passing game specialist Mike LaFleur and quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello are closely involved in working with Shanahan on the passing game, while running game specialist Mike McDaniel, offensive line coach John Benton and running backs coach Bobby Turner spearhead the involvement in the ground game.

But, make no mistake, it is Shanahan who calls the shots. And that's the way it should be. If Shanahan stepped aside as his own offensive coordinator, he would be diminishing his biggest strength as a coach.

What do you see happing with the Hyde situation? We drafted Joe Williams and Breida seems to be a bright spot. There’s a lot of talk about Barkley from Penn State with that high 1st rounder. (Manny Hinojos)
There does not seem to be any movement toward a long-term extension for Hyde. It is getting to the point in the season where it makes a lot more sense for Hyde to play out his contract and hit the open market.

There is no question in my mind the 49ers like Hyde a lot. He has scored some major points with the organization for his performance on the field and how he has responded off the field.

GM John Lynch loved it when Hyde came to the defense of quarterback C.J. Beathard, tussled with Arizona lineman Frostee Rucker and got ejected from the game.

That said, the 49ers are not going to break the bank for Hyde. A multi-year agreement has to come at the right price. My personal feeling is that running backs are luxury pieces when the remainder of a team’s roster -- especially the offensive line -- is set.

Shanahan and his father, Mike Shanahan, and Turner (the assistant coach who served on both of their staffs) have achieved a lot of success without investing heavily in running backs. That’s why I think the 49ers would be best-served by investing elsewhere and using another mid-round draft pick on a running back.

With Joshua Garnett coming back next season how aggressive will Lynch and Shanahan be in trying to get guards this offseason? (David Hartless)
Garnett is not a particularly good fit for this offensive scheme. The presence of Garnett can help increase the competition next offseason, but I do not believe he is being penciled in as a starter.

The 49ers will certainly be aggressive in an attempt to upgrade the guard positions. Currently, Laken Tomlinson and Brandon Fusco are the starters. Neither will be assured a starting job when the offseason begins.

The 49ers did not see enough from Garnett to determine he has a future with the organization, but he will be given the opportunity to come back healthy and prove himself.

Is Eric Reid in long-term plans? (Grant Rasmussen)
I do not believe so. I think the 49ers would like their starting safeties next season to be Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt – with Adrian Colbert as the front-runner for the No. 3 job.

The 49ers can also be expected to add a player or two in free agency, as well as the draft, to provide a competitive environment in the offseason. The 49ers seemed to telegraph their intention with Reid when they moved him to linebacker with Ward and Tartt remaining as the starting safeties.

That position change lasted about a week, as Ward’s injury prompted the team to move Reid back to safety. Reid is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. It's entirely possible there will not be a big market for him, but I do not believe the 49ers are going to be ultra-competitive in retaining him on the open market.