Matt Maiocco

49ers confidence soaring as Garoppolo takes charge

49ers confidence soaring as Garoppolo takes charge

Jimmy Garoppolo spent three games as the 49ers’ backup before starting the past two games.

But just five games into his tenure with the 49ers, he is already considered a player everyone looks up to.

“Man, Jimmy’s been everything,” 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk said. “He’s already a leader on this team. He runs this offense with confidence, and I think guys really believe in him. He keeps us up on the sideline.”

Garoppolo threw for 334 yards in the 49ers’ 26-16 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday after a scoreless first quarter.

“We didn’t start the game off great on offense,” Juszczyk said. “We missed some big plays and it would’ve been easy to tank, but Jimmy was right over there talking to us. It never fazed him. He was telling us to keep it up and eventually we’d punch it through.”

Juszczyk is one of several offensive players who has seemingly benefited from Garoppolo’s elevation into the starting lineup. Juszczyk had receptions of 31 and 29 yards to set up the 49ers’ first touchcdown.

Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin caught six passes for 106 yards after catching 99 yards in passes against Chicago. And tight end Garrett Celek added a 61-yard reception.

“The guys have played better,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “ I think they have done better as the year has gone. They’ve done great these last two weeks. I think when you’ve got a guy like Jimmy who has been making some impressive throws, who’s been doing it on the practice field and he’s carried it to the game, I think guys always know they’ve got a chance, and they lived up to it.”

Garoppolo was sacked twice and hit nine times. He stood in the pocket and delivered passes down the field during the game. Afterward, he stood up and complimented the pass protection he received from the 49ers’ offensive line.

“Jadeveon Clowney is one of the best in the league at what he does,” Garoppolo said. “I think those guys played great, I really do. You’re going to give up some things here and there, but overall I think it was a phenomenal day for those guys.”

49ers snap count: Lynch, Carradine earn way back onto field

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USATI

49ers snap count: Lynch, Carradine earn way back onto field

HOUSTON – Before the 49ers’ defensive line competes on Sundays, a healthy battle appears to be taking place on the practice field among themselves during the week.

With 11 defensive linemen on the team’s 53-man roster, one big decision on game days for the coaching staff is to determine which eight players will suit up.

On Sunday, defensive linemen Aaron Lynch and Tank Carradine got the nod, while Ronald Blair and Leger Douzable were relegated to watching from the sideline in team-issued sweats.

Lynch and Carradine played 27 and 26 snaps, respectively, as part of the team’s defensive line rotation in the 49ers’ 26-16 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday.

Lynch was on the cusp of getting released just two weeks earlier, according to a source. But after two strong weeks of practices, he was active for the first time in six games. Lynch responded with four tackles and a fumble recovery.

Carradine, who was a healthy scratch a week earlier against the Chicago Bears, contributed two tackles.

Douzable had been one of the bright spots after being re-signed in the middle of the season due to a rash of injuries across the defensive front. Blair was inactive for the first time since he came off injured reserve with a thumb injury sustained during the exhibition season.

Recently claimed defensive linemen Sheldon Day and Cassius Marsh continued to see significant action. Day played 34 snaps, while Marsh saw action on 33 plays. Day and Marsh contributed two tackles apiece.

The 49ers had only one player who missed the game due to injury. Coach Kyle Shanahan said offensive tackle Trent Brown informed the team Sunday morning he would be unavailable due to a shoulder injury.

"I kind of had a feeling (Saturday) night just watching walk through, but didn’t know for sure until (Sunday) when he came in and let us know," Shanahan said.

Veteran Zane Beadles filled in for Brown at right tackle despite playing out of position.

"He’s definitely much more of an inside player," Shanahan said. "Zane doesn’t hesitate. He loves the challenge. He will go out there and battle anyone. That’s why he’s a guy we love going to war with because you know you’re going to get your best and he’s someone you can count on. I know all the players believe in him.”

Here is a look at the 49ers’ playing time on offense, defense and special teams:

OFFENSE
(73 plays)
Quarterback – Jimmy Garoppolo 73
Running back – Carlos Hyde 41, Kyle Juszczyk 36, Matt Breida 32
Wide receiver – Marquise Goodwin 52, Trent Taylor 31, Kendrick Bourne 31, Louis Murphy 29, Aldrick Robinson 26
Tight end – Garrett Celek 61, George Kittle 20, Logan Paulsen 6
Offensive line – Joe Staley 73, Zane Beadles 73, Laken Tomlinson 73, Daniel Kilgore 73, Brandon Fusco 73

DEFENSE
(67 plays)
Defensive line – DeForest Buckner 53, Solomon Thomas 44, Sheldon Day 34, Cassius Marsh 33, Aaron Lynch 27, Elvis Dumervil 26, Tank Carradine 26, Earl Mitchell 25
Linebacker – Reuben Foster 67, Brock Coyle 48, Eli Harold 20
Cornerback – Ahkello Witherspoon 56, Dontae Johnson 52, K’Waun Williams 47, Greg Mabin 26, Leon Hall 19
Safety – Eric Reid 67, Adrian Colbert 67

SPECIAL TEAMS
(34 plays)
Marsh 25, Dekoda Watson 23, Mark Nzeocha 19, Dexter McCoil 19, Elijah Lee 19, Mabin 19, Bradley Pinion 17, Harold 16, Robinson 15, Johnson 14, Kyle Nelson 11, Victory Bolden 10, Paulsen 10, Celek 10, Hall 9, Witherspoon 9, Robbie Gould 6, Darrell Williams 6, Buckner 6, Reid 6, Thomas 6, Staley 6, Beadles 6, Tomlinson 6, Kilgore 6, Fusco 6, Breida 6, Taylor 6, Colbert 5, Juszczyk 5, Coyle 4, Mitchell 4, Foster 2, K’Waun Williams 2, Lynch 1, Dumervil 1

DID NOT PLAY
QB C.J. Beathard
OL Tim Barnes

INACTIVE
RB Jeremy McNichols
DB Antone Exum
LB Pita Taumoepenu
OT Trent Brown (shoulder)
DL Leger Douzable
DL D.J. Jones
DL Ronald Blair

Garoppolo, 49ers playing to a new, winning tune

Garoppolo, 49ers playing to a new, winning tune

HOUSTON -- Three things you need to know about the 49ers’ 26-16 victory over the Houston Texans in Week 14 on Sunday:

1, PLAYING TO A NEW TUNE

There is most certainly a different vibe around the team these days. That was apparent on Sunday when quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo led the team out of the locker room flanked by Nick Kray, the administrative assistant to the head coach and DJ in charge of music.

On Kray’s right shoulder, he held a large boombox that pumped out music as the team gathered in the tunnel before taking the field. It has become part of the team’s routine.

And so has winning.

“You can feel it in our building,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “Guys are gaining that confidence.”

The 49ers have won three of their past four games after losing their first nine games to open the season. The 49ers won back-to-back road games for the first time since the 2014 season (Nov. 9 at New Orleans; Nov. 16 at the New York Giants).

Garoppolo led the 49ers on five consecutive scoring drives in the second and third quarters. He completed 20 of 33 passes for 334 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

“I’ve only been here for a short time, so I don’t know exactly what’s changed or what hasn’t,” Garoppolo said. “I think we got a little bit momentum with us right now, and we just need to keep plucking away day by day, and just keep getting better.”

When asked if Garoppolo has elevated the play of everyone, receiver Marquise Goodwin answered, “One hundred percent.”

Goodwin explained, “Jimmy is a great guy. He’s a natural leader. He doesn’t struggle at any point in the game. When you see that in a position that he’s in, it gives you extreme confidence. When you look at him in the third quarter or in the second quarter and you’re down by one, you’re up by one, you feel that sense of hope.”

2. DEFENSE BENEFITS, TOO


The 49ers’ production on third downs was not as good as a week ago, but the team’s offense still controlled the clock to help out the defense.

The 49ers’ defense surrendered a touchdown on the opening drive of the third quarter, but that was all the scoring the Texans did in the second half.

Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins had a huge day for the Texans, including two touchdown receptions. But after Hopkins’ second touchdown, the 49ers’ defense clamped down.

“We knew he was going to have his,” Shanahan said of Hopkins. “Just thought we played them better the rest of the game. We didn’t let them get by us. Caught a few things in front of us. If you can bend but don’t break against him, then you’re usually doing a good job.”

Safety Adrian Colbert got the last word against Hopkins when he forced a takeaway in the fourth quarter that led to Robbie Gould’s fourth field goal, giving the 49ers a 26-16 lead with less than four minutes remaining.

When I see something, I go full speed, and I saw (No.) 10,” Colbert said. “I was trying to hit (No.) 10 all game and I finally got my opportunity.”

3. JOHNSON’S LEARNING EXPERIENCE


The day could not have gone much worse for cornerback Dontae Johnson, who is scheduled to become a free agent at the end of the season. He was solid while starting the first 13 games of the season.

But never was he assigned a wide receiver like DeAndre Hopkins. And never has he struggled to the point of getting benched. Hopkins caught 11 passes for 149 yards with two touchdowns. Most of the damage came against Johnson, who was also flagged three times.

“It’s one of those things,” Johnson said. “He’s a great player. A few of the calls, I thought were a little questionable. At the same time, I just got to compete. He won the one-on-one matchups when it’s all said and done. Great player. Great catch radius. Great hands. Great player.”

Greg Mabin replaced Johnson at right cornerback after Hopkins caught a 29-yard touchdown pass against him early in the third quarter. Johnson threw his helmet to the ground upon coming to the sideline.

But Johnson was forced to return to the game in the fourth quarter when Ahkello Witherspon went down with a knee injury. Witherspoon is scheduled for an MRI examination. His return for the final three weeks of the season is uncertain.

So Johnson is likely to retain his starting job.

“Every time I step out there, it’s a great learning experience,” Johnson said. “I chalk this one down as performance I’d like to give back and do it again. But I’ll watch the film, learn from it, and just move on.”