49ers still see room for improvement after thorough win vs. Browns

49ers still see room for improvement after thorough win vs. Browns

SAN FRANCISCO -- The 49ers' 31-3 win over the Cleveland Browns on Monday night was decisive and thorough.

But by no means was it perfect.

They scored on their first offensive play, yet the 49ers left points on the board at Levi's Stadium. Kicker Robbie Gould, for instance, missed three of his four field-goal attempts. The 49ers’ offense went 6-for-16 on third downs and had to settle for those aforementioned kicks.

Even the defense, coming off arguably its most dominant performance of the season, spoke of room to improve.

"I think, in some aspects, we didn't take it as high as we could have today," veteran cornerback Richard Sherman said Monday, "and so I think we've got things we can correct. That's what we're focused on.

“That's how you win football games. That's how you win for a long time."

Sherman and defensive lineman DeForest Buckner pointed to Browns running back Nick Chubb's chain-moving 37-yard run in the second quarter as a play the defense would like to have back. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who threw one interception, noted that the offense "got caught up a couple times" in Cleveland territory and needs to finish more drives with touchdowns.

Those are gripes the 49ers can live with. They, after all, held the Browns to just 180 total yards, ran for 275 themselves and went 2-for-3 in the red zone.

The kicking-game struggles, however, could require a longer look.

Gould, who missed just three field goals in his first two seasons with San Francisco, now is 7 of 12 this season. He missed from 52, 47 and 32 yards, respectively, on Monday. The second resulted on a low snap from 49ers long snapper Garrison Sanborn, while the third was blocked.

"I know, personally, I saw at least one rough snap that looked very hard for Robbie to get off," coach Kyle Shanahan said after the game. "I know all the others weren’t perfect by any means. There’s three people involved in it. I know we had a block. It looked like they came off the wing, off the edge. So I’m not exactly sure (the cause), but definitely wasn’t good enough."

Shanahan said he would talk with Gould, Sanborn and holder Mitch Wishnowsky about what went wrong. The 49ers signed Sanborn during their bye week, and he already is the third long snapper San Francisco has used this season.

After Week 2, the 49ers waived Colin Holba, Kyle Nelson's initial replacement as he serves a 10-game suspension for violating NFL rules on performance-enhancing drugs. Jon Condo replaced Holba, but the former Raider retired after just one game.

[RELATED: Bosa talks trash, gets revenge vs. Mayfield in 49ers' win]

The kicking game and the offense's punt-filled fourth quarter were the only real negatives Shanahan could identify after the win. Is he just nit-picking after the 49ers' first 4-0 start since 1990?

Yes, but that's the point. Shanahan doesn't want the 49ers getting ahead of themselves, especially before a matchup with the reigning NFC champion Los Angeles Rams.

“It means it’s still early," he said of the 49ers' 4-0 record. "It means we played four games, one less than most people. If you tell me that at the end of the year when the season is over, you’ll see me celebrating up here pretty hard.

“It’s going to be a short week and we’ve got to get to work on the Rams pretty early (Tuesday).”

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.