49ers

49ers takeaways: What we learned in 41-17 Week 2 win over Bengals

49ers takeaways: What we learned in 41-17 Week 2 win over Bengals

BOX SCORE

CINCINNATI -- The 49ers, a team that did not win away from Levi’s Stadium a year ago, left Santa Clara on Sept. 6 and will return home Sunday night with a 2-0 record.

After finding a way to win their season opener despite a flawed performance, the 49ers dominated in Week 2 from start to finish. The 49ers’ 41-17 thrashing of the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium gives the 49ers their first 2-0 start since 2012.

The last time the 49ers opened with back-to-back wins on the road was 1989. This year was only the third time after 1989 the schedule-makers called for the 49ers to play their first two games away from home.

Now, the 49ers look to keep it going next Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Levi’s Stadium. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger left the Steelers’ game Sunday against Seattle with a right elbow injury. Mason Rudolph replaced him at the start of the second half.

Here are three takeaways from their victory over the Bengals (0-2):

49ers look well-rested, start fast

Did the 49ers’ decision to remain in the Eastern time zone pay off? It might be impossible to tell, but they definitely came out strong in building a 24-10 lead at halftime.

The 49ers spent five days in Youngstown, Ohio, following their Week 1 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After three practices, the club made the short flight to Cincinnati.

The players and coaches were exhausted during the week, but coach Kyle Shanahan said he was confident that everyone would feel energized by the time the weekend rolled around. And that’s is exactly how it looked Sunday.

The 49ers’ defense came out strong with a three-and-out, including Arik Armstead’s sack of Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. Then, the 49ers took over and immediately went 51 yards on four plays for a touchdown. Jimmy Garoppolo hit Marquise Goodwin on a 38-yard touchdown pass.

And the 49ers kept the momentum going at the beginning of the second half with a seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that Garoppolo capped with a 3-yard touchdown pass to rookie Deebo Samuel.

The 49ers put together a near-perfect offensive showing, rolling up 574 of total offense. Garoppolo completed 17 of 25 passes for 297 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.

Who are these guys?

You might not remember, but the 49ers of 2018 collected just seven takeaways, including two interceptions.

This year’s defense looks nothing like that group. Linebacker Kwon Alexander dropped an interception in Week 1 against the Buccaneers before he got ejected for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Jameis Winston. On Sunday, he got another chance and he made the most of it.

Alexander intercepted a Dalton pass late in the first half. The 49ers drove 52 yards on 10 plays to cap the first half with Robbie Gould’s 33-yard field goal for a 24-10 lead.

The 49ers’ defense made life difficult for Dalton with four sacks. Armstead, Ronald Blair, DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas each recorded sacks on the day.

Return of the run game

The 49ers did not get much going on the ground in Week 1 against the Buccaneers. The 49ers gained just 98 yards on 32 carries (3.1-yard average).

They had a lot more success on Sunday, as Matt Breida took over the starting job due to Tevin Coleman’s ankle sprain. Breida got to the outside repeatedly and turned on the speed en route to 121 yards rushing on 12 carries.

In the first half alone, Breida gained 67 yards on six rushing attempts. Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson rotated into the game and combined for three touchdowns.

Mostert showed his speed when he took a screen pass from Garoppolo, split the Bengals defense and scored on a 39-yard pass. Wilson was promoted Saturday from the practice squad. Wilson scored his first two career touchdowns on runs of 2 and 4 yards.

Mostert gained 83 yards on 13 carries, while Wilson added 34 yards on 10 rushes.

Why 49ers' sloppy Week 7 win over Washington was historically boring

Why 49ers' sloppy Week 7 win over Washington was historically boring

Even in a game as listless and sloppy as the 49ers' 9-0 win over Washington on Sunday, history can be made. 

The 49ers opened Week 7 as double-digit favorites against Washington, but the hosts covered Sunday's spread in holding their deficit to nine points. Only one other team has "accomplished" that feat in the last quarter-century, according to ESPN's Doug Kezirian. 

If you thought Sunday's slop-fest was boring, it had nothing on that Steelers-Dolphins game. 

Not only was it played in prime time on "Monday Night Football," the game featured a whopping 375 yards of combined offense. By contrast, the 49ers and Washington looked more like the '07 Patriots, combining for 437 yards Sunday. At least Washington had won a game headed into Week 7, unlike winless Miami in the rain-soaked snoozer 12 years ago, and San Francisco can say its win somewhat resembled a(n American) football score. 

Still, Sunday's 49ers-Washington scoreline is actually rarer than that of Steelers-Dolphins. Sunday marked just the 30th time in NFL history that a game finished 9-0, and it was only the third time this century.

[RELATED: 2019 Mud Bowl Champions!' 49ers prove they can adjust]

By contrast, 59 NFL games have finished with a 3-0 final score. Thankfully, Steelers-Dolphins is the last such instance ... for now.  

The 49ers will take a 6-0 start to the season however they can get it, just as bettors who picked Washington to cover the spread will do the same. For anyone else, though, Sunday's Week 7 "game" was historically boring. 

49ers report card: Grades on offense, defense in 9-0 win vs. Washington

49ers report card: Grades on offense, defense in 9-0 win vs. Washington

LANDOVER, Md. – You would be hard-pressed to find anyone in the 49ers’ locker room that was dissatisfied with the club’s 9-0 victory over Washington on Sunday.

The game mirrored the conditions. It was sloppy. The offenses had a difficult time slogging their way through, but each team committed only one turnover apiece. The closest Washington came to scoring all day was on the first drive.

The 49ers finished strong with three consecutive possessions that ended with field goals. The 49ers will take their 6-0 record home to face the Carolina Panthers next week at Levi’s Stadium.

But, first, here are the grades from the 49ers’ sixth consecutive victory to open the season:

Rushing offense

Matt Breida averaged 4.4 yards per rushing attempt before leaving the game after getting poked in the eye. Tevin Coleman had difficulty finding any holes, as Washington stacked the box and held him to 62 yards on 20 rushing attempts.

Jimmy Garoppolo scrambled for a career-high 20 rushing yards. The best thing about the team’s running game is they held onto the ball.

https://twitter.com/NBCS49ers/status/1185973803047735296?s=20
Grade: B-minus

Passing offense

Garoppolo had just 10 yards passing at halftime, but things opened up a little in the second half, as he threw for 141 yards in the final 30 minutes of the game.

Garoppolo made one play in each of the 49ers’ three scoring drives that contributed to all of the team’s points. Richie James caught a 40-yard pass on third down to set up the first field goal. Garoppolo converted a fourth-down pass to a diving Ross Dwelley on the next drive, and finally Garoppolo hit George Kittle for a big third-down conversion on the final scoring drive.

Garoppolo finished with 12 completions in 21 attempts for 151 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. He was sacked twice for minus-5 yards.

Garoppolo’s interception came on a fourth-down play when he failed to look off deep safety Troy Apke before making the deep throw intended for Dante Pettis. (And Pettis certainly could have been more aggressive in going up after the pass.)

Kendrick Bourne led the 49ers with three receptions for 69 yards.
Grade: C

Rushing Defense

Just like a week ago, the 49ers had difficulty stopping the run on the first drive of the game. Washington opened with 10 consecutive running plays before finally throwing an incompletion on third down to set up a missed field-goal attempt.

After that, the 49ers’ run defense buckled down. Jullian Taylor and Ronald Blair teamed up to stop Adrian Peterson for a 1-yard loss on a fourth-and-1 run play from the 49ers’ 28-yard line.

Kwon Alexander and Taylor teamed up for a big play in the third quarter. Alexander forced a fumble of Peterson and Taylor recovered for the 49ers’ only takeaway of the game.
Grade: A

Passing Defense

The 49ers’ pass defense was dominant. Dee Ford, Arik Armstead and Nick Bosa registered quarterback sacks. And Washington quarterback Case Keenum managed just 77 yards passing while completing nine of 12 attempts.

Keenum’s biggest completion was a 19-yarder to wide receiver Trey Quinn.

[RELATED: Watch Bosa's slip-and-slide sack celly to end 49ers' win]

This performance came just one week after the 49ers held the Los Angeles Rams to 48 yards net passing. The 49ers gave up just 50 yards net passing to Washington. The 98 yards of net passing allowed over a two-week span are the fewest yards the 49ers have allowed in back-to-back games since 1977.
Grade: A-plus

Special Teams

After Robbie Gould missed a 45-yard attempt, the 49ers’ special teams did everything it needed to get the victory. Gould made kicks of 28, 22 and 28 yards for all the points in the team’s 9-0 win.

Mitch Wishnowsky was called on to punt just two times, but he averaged 47.0 yards with no returns. Richie James continues to do a fine job on punt returns, as he averaged 15 yards on his two attempts.
Grade: B

Overall

Let’s not forget that the 49ers were playing without six injured players who would ordinarily be active: fullback Kyle Juszczyk, receiver Deebo Samuel, offensive linemen Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey, nose tackle D.J. Jones and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon.

The 49ers had their issues on offense, but a lot of that could likely be attributed to the field conditions. The defense continues to be outstanding. After solving their issues in the run game, the 49ers locked up the Washington offense.

It might not have been a thing of beauty, but there’s no such thing as a bad win on the road in the NFL.
Grade: A