Matt Breida

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

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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.

Shanahan: 'Not much of a difference between' Hyde, Breida

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Shanahan: 'Not much of a difference between' Hyde, Breida

SANTA CLARA – Carlos Hyde might be the No. 7-ranked rusher in the league, but 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan considers him an equal to rookie backup Matt Breida.

Hyde was the featured back for the 49ers’ first four games of the season, but Breida made his mark last week against the Indianapolis Colts. Breida played more snaps and had more rushing attempts than Hyde.

“We’re still going to keep them fresh because there’s not much of a difference between the two, for me,” Shanahan said on “49ers Game Plan,” which airs Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on NBC Bay Area.

“I know they have different styles. But similar to Atlanta, whether it’s Devonta Freeman for Tevin Coleman, it didn’t matter much. There are some things that one does better than the other, and vice versa. But when you have two guys, it’s a good problem to have. You go with the hot hand but you also try to play both of them and keep them fresh.”

Breida was the hot hand against the Colts. While Hyde was struggling to find room to run, gaining just 11 yards on eight attempts, Breida appeared to be on the brink of busting a long one. He gained 49 yards on 10 rushing attempts.

“Getting that experience, as a rookie being able to play that much, it was an awesome experience,” Breida said. “And I’m just happy they had the confidence in me to go out there and do that.

“As a game went on, I felt the game slowed down for me and I was able to recognize things a lot more and get more in control of the game.”

Hyde had been in control in the 49ers' backfield up to that point. On the season, Hyde has rushed for 332 yards and two touchdowns on 73 attempts. Breida has 120 yards rushing on 30 carries.

Shanahan said he takes a lot into account when determining which back will get the bulk of the playing time. It starts during that week of practice to see which player is meshing better with the game plan. Then, he observes how the game is unfolding.

Against Indianapolis, Breida’s speed to get to the outside and hit the holes quickly was a better counter to the Colts’ large defensive line. On Sunday, the 49ers will go up against a Washington defense that is stout in the front seven.

Former 49ers defensive coordinator Greg Manusky has designed a defense that ranks 10th in the NFL against the run. One of his top assistants is defensive line coach, Jim Tomsula, who served in that capacity for many seasons with the 49ers before replacing Jim Harbaugh as head coach.

“Those are two coaches I have a lot of respect for,” Shanahan said. “I’ve played against them a bunch. And you can see them putting their imprint on the defense. Their front is tough to go against. They play a hard 3-4. They got a bunch of big guys up front.

“They’re pretty talented up front. They set the edge. Those guys inside don’t move much, and they keep everything condensed. They make you work for everything. You got to grind it out against them.”

49ers Mailbag: Must-win game vs Cardinals?

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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.