How 49ers' turnover-heavy defense is changing Jimmy Garoppolo's habits


How 49ers' turnover-heavy defense is changing Jimmy Garoppolo's habits

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo returned to regular-season action on Sunday after nearly one year on the sideline. And a lot has changed since then.

First, Garoppolo learned that he better keep his helmet nearby when he returns to the sideline.

“Yeah, you’ve got to,” he said.

That’s because the 2019 version of the 49ers’ defense is clearly far more apt to give Garoppolo and the offense shorter breaks on the sideline. The 49ers generated four takeaways on Sunday in a 31-17 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A year ago, the 49ers forced an NFL-record low seven turnovers in 16 games.

“It’s a good problem to have, for sure,” Garoppolo said Wednesday at Youngstown State University, where the club his practicing before their Week 2 game at the Cincinnati Bengals.

Garoppolo typically goes over the defensive looks from the previous series with quarterbacks coach Shane Day, who advises him on adjustments to be made and what to expect next.

“We try and get over that and look at the pictures as quick as we can with Shane and the rest of the QBs, and when the defense is getting turnovers like that, though, you’re never going to be upset about that,” Garoppolo said.

Garoppolo usually is concentrating on his own responsibilities, so he missed one of the pivotal turnovers from Sunday’s game at Tampa -- Ahkello Witherspoon’s interception return for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Garoppolo had to hustle onto the field for the two-point conversion, which he converted with a pass to Deebo Samuel.

“I usually feel the reaction from the sideline,” Garoppolo said. “If something big happens, a turnover or something like that, the sideline’s going nuts. Like Witherspoon’s interception, I didn’t even actually see that one. Everyone just started going nuts on the sideline. It was, yeah, a great spot to be.”

[RELATED: How 49ers CB Witherspoon caught Evans' attention in win]

Garoppolo believes he is in a great spot after Week 1. He completed 18 of 27 pass attempts for 166 yards with one touchdown and one interception, which was returned for a touchdown. There is plenty to clean up, yet the 49ers still exited Tampa with a victory.

“(There are) things to correct,” he said. “Missed a couple throws I wish I could’ve had back. Little things, they’re fixable, too. Just got to learn from them week-to-week and keep progressing.

“I missed a couple throws that I think usually I would’ve hit. That’s just part of it. I think as the season goes on, like I said, you try and keep improving and that’s all you can really ask for.”

Fill-in kicker Chase McLaughlin clutch once, not twice in 49ers loss


Fill-in kicker Chase McLaughlin clutch once, not twice in 49ers loss

SANTA CLARA – Raheem Mostert charged forward full speed ahead, churning hard to convert a 49ers third down. He was only two yards away but ended up just short, so close a replay review was required to confirm it.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan was faced with a fourth-and-short deep into Monday’s overtime period against Seattle and sent out the field goal unit without a second thought.

“Honestly, it never entered my mind right there,” Shanahan said. “We were 3-for-3 at the time, and it was certainly close enough for him.”

Shanahan wasn’t referring to former All-Pro Robbie Gould, someone as clutch as they come since joining the 49ers in 2017. He was out with a groin injury that forced the 49ers to sign a new kicker off the street.

Chase McLaughlin got the gig and made the most of his first three opportunities. He was nails from 43 yards out to open the scoring. He converted again from 39 to tie it midway through the fourth quarter. And then, with the game on the line and regulation time expiring, McLaughlin drilled one straight and true from 47 yards away.

McLaughlin faced the exact same distance to win it in overtime. That’s why Shanahan didn’t even consider going for it on fourth down.

This one, for all the marbles, didn’t go as planned. It went well wide left. Like, really wide. Like, so wide it sent folks ducking in the tunnel.

“I don’t know exactly what happened,” McLaughlin said. “I’ll have to look at it on film, but I rushed it a little bit and hit it a little high. Unfortunately, I missed it.”

The 49ers forced a punt after that but gave Russell Wilson too many bites at the apple and the clutch quarterback eventually set his Seahawks up for a 27-24 victory at Levi’s Stadium.

His new 49ers teammates certainly felt for the 23-year old, who came through big-time at the end of the fourth quarter but couldn’t come through in overtime.

“You absolutely feel for Chase,” fullback Kyle Juszczyk said. “He really did have a good game. That’s a lot to ask for a new kicker to come in and make all those kicks. I feel for him, but we all let him know we have his back.”

That includes Gould, despite the team being hopeful he'll be ready next week game against Arizona. The veteran spoke to McLaughlin about the tough break that was a major reason why the 49ers are no longer unbeaten.

“He just said, ‘Keep your head up,’” McLaughlin said. “This game has a lot of highs and some lows. Unfortunately, today was one of them.”

Chase McLaughlin shanks potential winning 49ers field goal into tunnel


Chase McLaughlin shanks potential winning 49ers field goal into tunnel

The 49ers suffered their first loss of the season Monday night with a 27-24 overtime defeat to the Seahawks, but they were one play away from staying unbeaten.

With just over three minutes left in overtime and the score tied at 24, San Francisco put the game in the hands of their rookie kicker, Chase McLaughlin, who was signed last week to replace injured veteran Robbie Gould. 

McLaughlin had a chance to put himself in 49ers lore forever with a game-winning kick over their NFC West rivals.

He put himself in 49ers lore all right -- but not in the way he envisioned.

The 23-year-old shanked the kick so far wide that the ball bounced into the tunnel … nowhere near the uprights, as NBC Sports Bay Area's Jennifer Lee Chan captured on video.

Not ideal.

McLaughlin, who split the uprights with a clutch field goal at the end of regulation to force overtime, went from potential hero to goat in a heartbeat. 

After both teams exchanged punts, Seattle’s kicker, Jason Myers, did what McLaughlin could not and drilled the game-winning field goal as time expired in overtime to give the Seahawks the win. 

[RELATED: Where 49ers now sit in chase for NFC's top seed after loss]

With Gould expected back next Sunday against the Cardinals, McLaughlin’s 49ers tenure might be over after only one week.

At least it was memorable.