49ers report card: Grades on offense, defense in 41-17 win vs. Bengals

49ers report card: Grades on offense, defense in 41-17 win vs. Bengals

CINCINNATI -- As the 49ers were filing into the locker room after their surprisingly easy 41-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, the enthusiasm was unmistakable.

“We’re going home!” 49ers linebacker Fred Warner yelled.

After spending the past 10 days in the Eastern time zone, the 49ers are heading back to the Bay Area with a 2-0 record with an impressive showing against the Bengals, who were 1.5-point favorites but looked thoroughly overmatched.

Coach Kyle Shanahan got the ball to his playmakers in space ... and Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert and Deebo Samuel did not disappoint. The 49ers had 572 yards of total offense, their second-most since the 1992 season.

“When he gets in a rhythm like that, it puts everyone in a good position,” 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said of Shanahan.

The team that lost every road game a year ago opened the season with back-to-back wins at Tampa Bay and Cincinnati. On Sunday, they rolled up their second-most yards on the road in franchise history -- and their most since 1988.

The only negative of the day was left tackle Joe Staley's fractured left fibula, which is expected to keep him out of action for six to eight weeks.

Here is the 49ers’ report card from their Week 2 victory at Cincinnati:

Rushing offense

The 49ers were able to gash the Bengals’ defense in every imaginable way. Breida gained 121 yards on 12 rushing attempts, as he and Mostert got to the outside to tear off big chunks of yards. Mostert added 83 yards on 13 attempts. Jeff Wilson, called up from the practice squad on Saturday, scored the first two touchdowns of his NFL career. After struggling to run the ball in Week 1, the 49ers had no problems with Staley, Laken Tomlinson, Weston Richburg, Mike Person and Mike McGlinchey leading the way. The 49ers gained 259 yards on the ground with a gaudy 6.2-yard average.

Grade: A

Passing offense

Garoppolo threw an interception, and even that turned out OK for the 49ers, as they gained 27 yards of field position after the change in possession. Garoppolo had a good day, completing 17 of 25 passes for 297 yards with three touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 131.2. Samuel had five receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown. Marquise Goodwin had three receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown. And Mostert added three catches for 68 yards and a touchdown. George Kittle added three receptions for 54 yards.

The pass protection was spectacular, as Garoppolo was not sacked and rarely pressured. One of the few times Garoppolo felt some heat, he stepped out to pick up nine yards and a first down. The 49ers converted five of nine (56-percent) third-down attempts. 

Grade: A

Rushing Defense

The 49ers’ run defense really tightened the screws against Joe Mixon and the Bengals. Mixon gained just 17 yards on 11 rushing attempts. Giovani Bernard had even less success on the ground against the 49ers’ front seven with six yards on six rushing attempts. The 49ers had nine tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Ronald Blair had three tackles for losses, while Arik Armstead registered two. 

Grade: A

Passing Defense

Andy Dalton’s 66-yard touchdown pass to John Ross in the closing minute skewed the 49ers' statistical dominance. The 49ers kept the Bengals in check throughout the game, though nickel back K’Waun Williams had some difficulties in coverage, including a miscommunication with safety Jaquiski Tartt in the first quarter that resulted in a 47-yard pass play.

The 49ers registered four sacks in the game, but Dee Ford and Nick Bosa were not involved. Armstead, Blair, DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas came through with sacks. Linebacker Kwon Alexander, who dropped an interception in Week 1, held on this time for his first pick as a member of the 49ers. 

Grade: A-minus

Special Teams

Mitch Wishnowsky punted only two times, but one of them was caught by gunner D.J. Reed at the Cincinnati 3-yard line in the second quarter. Ultimately, Alexander intercepted a pass and the 49ers turned it into a field goal in the closing seconds of the first half. Kicker Robbie Gould made field goals of 33 and 38 yards, but missed from 39 yards. There were not many yards to be had in the return game. 

Grade: B-minus


The Bengals were actually favored to win this game, but the 49ers came out fast and showed a killer instinct to put the game away early in the third quarter. The 49ers improved in many areas that were problem spots in Week 1, but they can still clean up their penalties. The 49ers were flagged nine times for 75 yards. The offense rolled up 572 yards -- the sixth-most in franchise history -- and their 259 rushing yards were their fourth-most since 1995. Aside from giving up a couple big plays in the passing game, the defense was on-point from the beginning. 

Grade: A

Why 49ers' George Kittle 'loves' playing for head coach Kyle Shanahan

Why 49ers' George Kittle 'loves' playing for head coach Kyle Shanahan

George Kittle rapidly has ascended during his three seasons in the NFL. Originally a fifth-round draft pick in 2017, Kittle has become one of the NFL's best tight ends playing in coach Kyle Shanahan's offense.

When asked what it's like to play for the young head coach, Kittle couldn't be more thrilled about having Shanahan at the helm in San Francisco.

"Awesome, Kyle is the man, I love playing for him," Kittle told Will Compton and Taylor Lewan on "Bussin' With The Boys." "One of my favorite things about him, is, he just loves football so much. And when you have a guy that loves football and its not work for him, it makes it pretty easy to play for the guy. He doesn't have to give a pump-up speech, you can just tell how much it means to him."

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Kittle also appreciates that Shanahan doesn't beat around the bush when it comes to communicating with his players.

"He's just straight up with everybody," Kittle said. "We were 4-12 last year, and he still got up in front of the team and didn't bulls--t us or anything like, he's like 'this is why we're not good, this is what we have to do to be better, we just have to work hard and practice better.' So he's always straight up with us."

[RELATED: Steve Young wants 49ers' Kyle Shanahan to challenge Jimmy Garoppolo]

He certainly has evoked a similar reaction from many of his players, as Shanahan's passion helped players gravitate towards the head coach.

Shanahan, Kittle and the rest of the 49ers' roster will come to training camp hungry, looking to avenge a heartbreaking loss in Super Bowl LIV.

Kyle Shanahan, 49ers targeting youth to bring about racial progress

Kyle Shanahan, 49ers targeting youth to bring about racial progress

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has met with his players by position group, from the skill players to the offensive line, from the defensive line to the defensive backs, to create an open dialogue about both the blatant and underlying systemic racism in American society exposed by yet another act of police brutality against an African American.

Shanahan also met with a veteran group to discuss the issue and help decide what the 49ers can do to create positive change.

“We’re going to do a lot,” Shanahan said Thursday in a video conference with reporters. “There’s nothing specific yet, but our guys are working hard on it.”

George Floyd’s death while in police custody, after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee against his neck for nearly nine minutes, has sparked outrage and social unrest in American society and the international community as a whole.

It has also heightened and broadened the desire to prevent such acts in the future and eliminate this American plague for good.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCASTListen to the latest episode]

Shanahan and his 49ers players believe they have found a place where they can help, by addressing an impressionable group that often views them as role models.

“We talk about that a lot, and what I hear the most from the players, which I believe in a ton, too, is what we can do for the youth and setting examples,” Shanahan said. “If all kids could watch our players interacting with each other, that’s how all people should interact with each other.”

Shanahan’s the son of a coach and is grateful to be someone who moved around a lot and interacted with a diverse football community, an experience that made him comfortable around people of all backgrounds. He believes that experience could benefit everyone and make communities more tolerant.

“I feel very fortunate that I have been around these situations because I’ve been in a football locker room since I was born,” Shanahan said. “You’re around everybody and it makes it comfortable, and the stuff people are born with and around [as a child] doesn’t leave.”

He wants his children to continue growing up in that environment. He hopes the 49ers can set a proper example for people young and older and help stop the racism passed down from one generation to the next.

“That’s the stuff we have to keep doing,” Shanahan said. “Well, how do we do that? You have to vote. You have to change all that stuff, which takes time. That may be the most important thing. How can we educate people on that? How can we make a difference? That’s something our players are looking into. Everybody wants to put money in the right spot, but you don’t want to just throw money around because people have thrown a lot of money at this stuff over the last 20 years and no one sees a ton of progress. There definitely isn’t enough, not until this type of stuff never happens.”

[RELATED: 49ers' Shanahan decries 'fact' of racism 'all over' in U.S.]

The 49ers don’t plan on just one action or only leadership by example. Instead, it will be a prolonged, thought-out effort to make a difference in this defining social issue.

“I know that our players are so passionate, black guys and white guys, about trying to fix this,” Shanahan said. “We know it’s not an easy answer. It’s the whole country admitting what is wrong. It isn’t debatable. We need to come out from being sheltered or ignorant or whatever it is. Whoever those people are, kids need to help their parents and the parents need to help their parents. We all need to speak about it and do [something about it].”