Three things to know from 49ers' 44-33 win over top defense in the NFL

Three things to know from 49ers' 44-33 win over top defense in the NFL

SANTA CLARA -- Three things you need to know about the 49ers’ 44-33 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 16 on Sunday:

Rookies typically wear down late in the NFL season due to the increase in the number of games over college football. But the 49ers’ first-year players appear to be peaking late in the season.

After such players as draft picks Solomon Thomas, Reuben Foster, Ahkello Witherspoon, George Kittle and Trent Taylor helped put the 49ers in position to win, it was undrafted running back Matt Breida who supplied the finishing touch.

Breida took a pitch from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and flashed his speed to get around the left corner en route to a 30-yard game-clinching touchdown run with 1:24 remaining for the 10-point victory.

Kittle and Taylor added touchdown catches from Garoppolo, and Witherspoon supplied one of the 49ers’ three interceptions of Blake Bortles, who entered Sunday as the hottest quarterback in the NFL.

Thomas, the No. 3 overall pick, and Foster played a role in shutting down Leonard Fournette, the No. 4 selection in the draft. Fournette gained just 48 yards on 18 rushing attempts for a meager 2.7-yard average.

The 49ers are building a lot of momentum going into the 2018 season, and the play of the rookies is a big reason it appears to be a program on the rise.

"A lot of it is new coaches, new players," Kittle said. "We are just really learning to come together as a team. I think we are finding our rhythm now. I feel like we are just clicking on offense, which is one thing we struggled with early. Our defense has been playing well all year. We were just struggling from the beginning, now we are just rolling. We are on a heater. I think we are going to stay that way."

Garoppolo faced his stiffest challenge since entering the 49ers’ starting lineup. Going up against the top defense in the league, Garoppolo made more than enough plays to enable the 49ers to pull off the upset over the AFC South champions.

"I thought he played very similar in this game that he has the last few games," Shanahan said. "He made the right reads for the most part, made the right throws. I’m sure there’s a couple he’d want to have back, just like any game. It was that he’s been very consistent.”

Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith during the week described this game as a “hat and T-shirt week” – alluding to the Jaguars’ intention to celebrate the division title in the 49ers’ stadium.

While the Tennessee Titans’ loss clinched the Jags’ championship, their hopes as the top seed in the AFC playoffs were extinguished with the loss to the 49ers. And Jacksonville did not appear to be much in the mood for a celebration before returning to the East Coast.

The Jacksonville defense leads the NFL in sacks and entered the game allowing a league-low 168.9 yards passing per game. The 49ers’ offensive line generally gave Garoppolo time to throw, and he was sacked just once. Garoppolo completed 21 of 30 pass attempts for 242 yards and two touchdowns.

"I think it was a good test for us, especially as an offense," Garoppolo said. "Our team overall responded. It was an overall team win today. Offense doing our part. Defense getting us field position. Special teams. It all came together really nice today. That’s what makes a good team. We’re moving in the right direction right now. It seems week by week we just keep getting better.”

Said left tackle Joe Staley, "Jimmy is playing great football for us at the quarterback position. It is probably the most important position in team sports. He is doing a terrific job out there. He raises all shifts up there and everybody is playing really good football right now. We have a close locker room. I am really proud to be a part of it. It is pretty special here.”

Garoppolo surpassed Hall of Famer Kurt Warner’s record for passing yards in his first four starts with a new team. Garoppolo has thrown for 1,250 yards with the 49ers. Warner had 1,217 yards passing in his first four starts with St. Louis Rams in 1999.

The 49ers (5-10) will take a four-game win streak into the season finale next week at the Los Angeles Rams.

Coach Kyle Shanahan was regarded as one of the best offensive coordinators in the league. And those skills were on display Sunday, as he put together a masterful game plan against the top-ranked Jacksonville defense.

The 49ers went with multi-receiver formations to spread out the Jacksonville defense. Shanahan kept the Jaguars off balance with a variety of quick passes and misdirection. Shanahan found the weaknesses in the Jaguars’ defense, which resulted in players running free all over the field in the passing game.

Garoppolo missed some of his throws, but he also made good on the key downs. The 49ers converted 10 of 15 on third downs for a remarkable 67-percent conversion rate.

The 49ers scored five offensive touchdowns against a defense that allowed just 14.9 points per game. After Jacksonville clawed back into the game in the final two minutes, Shanahan’s call for a pitch to Breida on a third-down play was well-timed and well-executed, resulting in a 30-yard touchdown run to seal the victory.

"The guys made their blocks and we had a strong feeling they’d be in man coverage and playing the run and daring us to throw, which you know you need to get a first down there because I believe they still had one timeout, so you can’t run the clock out," Shanahan said.

There could more of this kind of precision execution in the future as the 49ers get more acclimated to Shanahan’s system and the talent level on the roster improves.

Report: Stubblefield taken into custody, booked into jail in no-bail case

Santa Clara Sheriff Office

Report: Stubblefield taken into custody, booked into jail in no-bail case

Former 49ers defensive lineman Dana Stubblefield is behind bars. 

According to the Mercury News, Stubblefield was led away from court to jail in handcuffs Friday after a judge found there was probable cause to hold him over for trial on charges of rape stemming from May 2015. 

Stubblefield is charged with raping an intellectually disabled woman on April 9, 2015 at his Morgan Hill home when she had gone to interview for a babysitting job. 

According to the same report, Stubblefield had been free on $250,000 bail for more than a year. But the judge ordered him taken into custody Friday after prosecutors formally added the allegation that Stubblefield used a gun during the assault, which made it a no-bail case.

Stubblefield has pleaded not guilty and publicly denied the five felony charges and gun enhancement that prosecutors say could lead to at least 15 years to life in prison if he is convicted.

Stubblefield played 11 seasons in the NFL, including the first five with the 49ers. He later returned to the 49ers in 2001 and ’02, before finishing his career with the Raiders.

Stubblefield, a first-round pick of the 49ers in 1993, was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year after recording 10.5 sacks. He was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year with a career-high 15 sacks in 1997. He signed a lucrative contract with Washington in 1998.

Drafted by Baalke with injury, former 49ers WR signs with Colts


Drafted by Baalke with injury, former 49ers WR signs with Colts

The 49ers recently re-signed eight of the 10 players who finished the season on the team’s practice squad.

Wide receiver DeAndre Smelter, who was not among the first wave of 49ers signings to 2018 contracts, signed Wednesday with the Indianapolis Colts, ending his three-season association with the organization.

Smelter was one of general manager Trent Baalke’s redshirt draft picks. The team selected him in the fourth round of the 2015 draft despite a torn ACL that ended his final season at Georgia Tech.

Smelter spent his first season on an injured list. He was waived at the beginning of the past two seasons, finishing both years on the 49ers’ practice squad. Smelter appeared in two games in 2016 and caught one pass for 23 yards.

Last season, the 49ers signed wide receivers Louis Murphy and Max McCaffrey to spots on the 53-man roster instead of Smelter, who remained on the practice squad.

Wide receiver DeAndre Carter, who also spent the entire season on the practice squad, was signed recently to the team’s 90-man roster.

Others who finished the season on the 49ers practice squad to remain on the team’s offseason roster are: quarterback Nick Mullens, tight end Cole Wick, offensive linemen Andrew Lauderdale and Pace Murphy, linebacker Boseko Lokombo, and defensive backs Trovon Reed and Channing Stribling.

The 49ers also signed fullback Malcolm Johnson, who spent last season on injured reserve with the Seattle Seahawks. Johnson appeared in 19 games over the 2015 and ’16 seasons with the Cleveland Browns. He was a sixth-round draft pick in ’15.

Offensive linemen Cameron Hunt, who finished the season on the 49ers’ practice squad, remains unsigned. Guard JP Flynn is also unsigned. He sustained a torn patellar tendon in November and underwent surgery that was expected to keep him out up to nine months.