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


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.

How adjusting Fred Warner's workload has unleashed his speed for 49ers

How adjusting Fred Warner's workload has unleashed his speed for 49ers

BRADENTON, Fla. — For the second time in as many months, a member of the 49ers has been named NFC Defensive Player of the Month.

Linebacker Fred Warner took home the title for November after Nick Bosa had the honor for October. During the month, Warner tallied 44 total tackles, three sacks, four tackles for loss, three quarterback hits and two forced fumbles. 

49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh believes altering the linebacker’s responsibilities has given Warner an opportunity to play with more speed. 

“We’ve taken a lot off his plate so he can just go line up and play,” Saleh said Thursday. “Putting more of the onus on making sure that guys lineup and go play. We were playing some of those read-option teams, the Arizona teams, we’re asking him to make a lot of checks and see if he can get us in the perfect defense. 

“While he’s busy trying to do that, he’s not able to focus on his job. Even though he was getting everyone lined up and everything was perfect, it’s just not fair for him. So, to take a little bit off his plate so he can go ahead and go play, I think that’s really been the difference.”

Saleh is not alone in praising Warner. Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman also has been impressed with the young linebacker's work ethic and growth in his second season. The fact that Warner didn’t play inside until he was with the 49ers makes his accomplishments even more significant. 

“The inside linebacker already has so much on his plate,” Sherman said. “Being able to take some of that off—there was one game I think he had six calls in one play. Where if this guy moves here, he has to readjust the line. He has to tell the DBs this, he has to tell this guy this and sometimes that just doesn’t allow him to play fast.

“He’s getting everybody else lined up to play fast but he can’t play fast. He has to think about all these calls, all these adjustments. Maybe you put a little more strain on the rest of the guys. You spread out the strain and it allows him to play fast and for us to be a better defense.”

[RELATED: 49ers now have logjam at running back with Breida's return]

Now in his second year, Warner sees things developing on the field more quickly. No matter the workload given to him by Saleh, the BYU product has been able to adjust.  

“I think as the year has gone on, he has kind of started to realize what’s too much, what’s too little,” Warner said. “I agree completely. Ever since kind of the midway point of the season, I think he has lined it up for me to just go out and play fast.”  

49ers' Richard Sherman, Dee Ford speak out on Tim Ryan's comments


49ers' Richard Sherman, Dee Ford speak out on Tim Ryan's comments

BRADENTON , Fla. -- Following radio broadcaster Tim Ryan's one-game suspension for his comments regarding Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, several 49ers players spoke out, believing there was no malicious intent behind what the analyst said. 

Known as being outspoken on most topics, Richard Sherman did not mince words about what Ryan said. He even mentioned that the commentator had personally apologized to several players while at the team hotel after the announcement of his suspension. 

“I know Tim personally, and I listened to the dialogue and saw it, read it,” Sherman said. “Honestly, I wasn’t as outraged as everybody else. I understand how it can be taken in a certain context and be offensive to some. 

“But if you’re saying, ‘Hey, this is a brown ball, they are wearing dark colors, and he has a brown arm,’ honestly sometimes we were having trouble seeing it on film. He’s making a play fake and sometimes he’s swinging his arm really fast and you’re like, does he have the ball? And you look up and [Mark] Ingram is running it.

“So it was technically a valid point but the way he said it, you can always phrase things better. I’ve had a relationship with him since I’ve gotten here and he’s never been anything other than a great guy and a professional and a guy who takes his job seriously.” 

Edge rusher Dee Ford expressed similar sentiments about Ryan’s comments, and confirmed that the two had spoken since the incident. 

“He walked up to me earlier and before he even said anything I told him. ‘I got your back.’” Ford said. “I already knew the story. The words kind of got taken out of context, and of course, now he knows he could have used better judgment with his words. But we got his back. I knew what he was trying to say. 

“This era we live in, it is just what it is, but I know him personally. I speak to him a lot. He loves to watch the D-line and there’s not one -- type of bone -- you know what bone I’m talking about, in his body. So I got his back, so put that to bed really fast.”  

49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh also spoke about Ryan’s nature, not believing that there was negative intent behind his comments. 

[RELATED: How Payton, Saints are preparing for imposing 49ers defense]

“I’ve always, as a human being, tried to judge people on how I interact with them,” Saleh said. “And I love the man. He’s a very genuine human being and he knows he made a mistake and he’s just trying to move this on as quickly as possible.” 

Dennis Brown will be on the call with Greg Papa during Ryan’s absence for Sunday’s matchup against the Saints in the Superdome.