49ers' passing game takes off, but still commits too many mistakes

49ers' passing game takes off, but still commits too many mistakes

SANTA CLARA – Colin Kaepernick threw for 398 yards on Sunday, his highest passing output since the season-opener of the 2013 season.

But mistakes across the board prevented the 49ers from putting up more points to attempt to keep up with Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in a 41-23 loss at Levi’s Stadium.

“I think we got into more of a rhythm today,” said Kaepernick, who made his third start of the season after replacing Blaine Gabbert. “We still left a lot out there, particularly in the red zone. We went down there three times and came away with zero points.

“I get more and more comfortable every week. This is my first opportunity to get live reps, so being a few games in now, everything is more and more clear, more and more comfortable, and able to get in a rhythm with this offense.”

Kaepernick threw a costly interception, and running backs Mike Davis and DuJuan Harris lost fumbles deep in New Orleans territory that could have kept the game much closer for much longer.

Despite misfiring on seven consecutive pass attempts in the second half, Kaepernick completed 24 of 39 pass attempts for 398 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. His passer rating was 102.3. Kaepernick had the second-largest passing day of his career, ranking behind only his 412-yard day against the Green Bay Packers to open his first full season as the starter.

“There were few throws here and there, I wish I would’ve had,” Kaepernick said. “The interception, in particular, I thought I could beat the guy with the throw. I saw him the whole way. Those are things that I look at, ‘What can I correct? What I can be better at to help this team win?’”

Kaepernick appeared to lock onto intended receiver Jeremy Kerley, giving Saints linebacker Craig Robertson enough time to jump the route for the interception. Robertson returned the interception 29 yards to set up the Saints’ second touchdown of the game.

“We just had to get back into rhythm,” Kaepernick said. “Everything’s not going to be perfect all the way through the game. There was something where we got a little off track at that point, but we got back on track and tried to get back in the flow so we could get back into the game.”

Wide receiver Quinton Patton had a career-high 106 yards receiving on six receptions. Kaepernick had short throws to running back DuJuan Harris and tight end Vance McDonald turn into 47- and 65-yard touchdowns, respectively.

“Today was a step in the right direction,” Kaepernick said. “We had a lot of opportunities, where a few different plays here and there, it’s a different ballgame. And those are things moving forward we have to correct. And those are the corrections we have to make that make a difference whether you win or lose football games.”

There is little question that Kaepernick will remain at quarterback as the 49ers look to end their seven-game losing streak and avoid a franchise-worst nine-game skid. The 49ers’ next two games are against the Arizona Cardinals and New England Patriots.

“You have to keep working and keep trying to be better every week because complaining about it, worrying about it, all those things, aren’t going to help you correct it,” Kaepernick said. “And, ultimately, that’s what we have to do, is correct things offensively, defensively and special teams. As a team, we have to correct our mistakes so we can start winning football games.”

Jimmy Garoppolo becomes first 49ers QB to win Player of the Week since 2012


Jimmy Garoppolo becomes first 49ers QB to win Player of the Week since 2012

Jimmy Garoppolo, who was at the center of the 49ers’ emotional 48-46 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance.

Garoppolo becomes the 49ers’ first NFC Offensive Player of the Week since Week 1 of the 2013 season when wide receiver Anquan Boldin won the award. He is the first 49ers quarterback to win since Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick both were honored during the 2012 season.

The 49ers have been recognized three times as winner of the NFC Defensive Player of the Week. Nick Bosa won it twice (Weeks 5 and 8), and Fred Warner (Week 12) was honored for his game against Green Bay.

{RELATED: Jimmy Garoppolo putting up historic stats among 49ers quarterbacks]

In Week 14, Garoppolo completed 26 of 35 pass attempts for 349 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. His passer rating was 131.7. He also picked up a key first down in the fourth quarter with a 2-yard scramble.

“Jimmy is a baller,” 49ers receiver Emmanuel Sanders said. “You can look at him and see what kind of player he is. He works hard. When you’ve got somebody like Jimmy with the personality that he has, in the clutch moments he’s not going to fold because of all the hard work that he’s put in.”

The biggest play of the game came in the final minute of the fourth quarter, when Garoppolo completed a pass to tight end George Kittle on a fourth-and-2 situation to get the first down. Then, Kittle did the rest by himself, dragging defenders for a 39-yard gain. A facemask penalty put the 49ers in position for Robbie Gould’s game-winning 30-yard kick as time expired.

The 49ers lead the NFC West and own the top record in the NFC at 11-2.

Garoppolo is heating up for the 49ers at the right time. He has produced passer ratings of 110 or better in six of his past seven games. In the past seven games, Garoppolo completed 70.4 percent of his passes for 1,931 yards with 18 touchdowns and five interceptions.

The Saints pressured Garoppolo on 34.2 percent of his dropbacks, the second-highest pressure rate he has faced this season, according to Zebra Technology, the official on-field tracking technology of the NFL. He completed six of eight passes for two touchdowns on passes of 10 yards or more in the air for a passer rating of 156.3.

It did not come easy, either. Garoppolo also threw into tight windows on 22.9 percent of his throws, according to Zebra, which is significantly higher than his season average of 15.5 percent of throws to receivers who are well-covered.

49ers place receiver Marquise Goodwin on season-ending injured reserve


49ers place receiver Marquise Goodwin on season-ending injured reserve

The 49ers placed wide receiver Marquise Goodwin on injured reserve Tuesday, ending his season and, possibly, his time with the organization.

Goodwin did not play in Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints after being listed as questionable with knee and foot issues.

“He’s dealing with some chronic stuff,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said Monday. “We’re evaluating treatment options right now.”

Goodwin, 29, appeared in nine games this season with six starts. He had just 12 catches for 186 yards and one touchdown.

The 49ers signed Goodwin on the first day of free agency in 2017. After four seasons with the Buffalo Bills, Goodwin had a breakout season in his first season with the club. Goodwin posted career-best numbers with 56 catches for 962 yards and two touchdowns.

Goodwin appeared in 36 games with the 49ers over the past three seasons, catching 91 passes for 1,543 yards and seven touchdowns.

[RELATED: Jimmy G putting up historic numbers among 49ers QBs]

Goodwin is signed through the 2021 season, but it appears unlikely the club will bring him back next season due to his contract, which has exceeded his production. He is scheduled to make $4.5 million in salary and bonuses. Goodwin has also stated his intention of trying to qualify for the Olympics next year in the long jump.

After winning the U.S. Olympic trials in 2012, Goodwin competed in the 2012 London Olympics. He placed 10th after heading into the final as the No. 1 qualifier. Injuries derailed his bid for a spot on the 2016 U.S. Olympic team that competed in Brazil.