Maiocco's Top 5 takeaways from 49ers' Week 9 win over Falcons
Good feeling entering bye week
The 49ers snapped a nine-quarter touchdown drought with two first-half touchdowns on Sunday and then held on for dear life to claim a 17-16 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium. Clearly, though, not all of the 49ers’ problems are solved. “Blaine Gabbert and our entire offensive line, the guys, the way they battled,” 49ers coach Jim Tomsula said. “We still have a lot of work to do -- a lot of work to do.” The 49ers improved to 3-6, and did it with a cast that leaned heavily on newcomers...
5) Still support for Kaepernick
The TV broadcast noted the boos for Colin Kaepernick as he entered the game. But that did not seem to be the case at all at Levi’s Stadium. The fans booed the replay of Philip Wheeler’s helmet-to-helmet hit on Blaine Gabbert. And they booed when referee Tony Corrente removed Gabbert from the game to undergo concussion testing. But Kaepernick received mostly loud cheers from the crowd. The future is uncertain for Kaepernick. There’s no guarantee he’ll be back on the field as a member of the 49ers.
4) Too many drops
Gabbert did a good job of allowing his receivers to make plays. Some did. Some did not. Receiver Jerome Simpson, in his second game back after serving a six-game suspension for violations of the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, started and dropped two passes that should have been big-gainers. Instead of one possible 40-yard reception, Simpson flubbed the well-thrown pass so poorly it became an interception. Tight end Vance McDonald also failed to haul in a couple catchable passes, including a deep throw on Kaepernick’s only attempt of the game.
3) The replacements
Running backs Shaun Draughn and Kendall Gaskins filled in admirably. So did cornerbacks Dontae Johnson and Marcus Cromartie. In fact, Johnson made the play of the game when he broke up a pass for Julio Jones in the end zone that could’ve given the Falcons a late lead. Rookie safety Jaquiski Tartt, in his second start for Antoine Bethea, showed why he was a second-round draft pick. And in the first game after the trade of Vernon Davis to Denver, Garrett Celek gave the 49ers the most production they’ve received out of the tight-end position in a long time.
2) Bowman's explosion
Linebacker NaVorro Bowman knew it would take time to fully return to his three-time All-Pro form after being forced to sit out all of last season due to a severe knee injury. On Sunday, he looked as explosive as ever while recording two tackles for losses, a sack and three quarterback hits. “I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made so far,” Bowman said. “There’s still more to come and more to do. I plan on continuing towards that.” Bowman played a key role in limiting Devonta Freeman, the league’s leading rusher, to 12 yards on 12 carries.
1) What Gabbert brings
It certainly was not perfect, but Blaine Gabbert did his part to contribute to the 49ers’ victory. He threw two touchdown passes and got rid of the ball quickly to avoid sacks. Granted, the Falcons have one of the worst pass-rushes in the NFL, but Gabbert does a better job of covering for the O-line’s issues. Gabbert made back-shoulder throws and gave his receivers chances to make plays. But he also forced a throw that resulted in a fourth-quarter interception. More important, Gabbert showed toughness and leadership. Tomsula didn’t say it, but we will: Gabbert played well enough to earn at least another start.