How learning from mistakes against Seahawks helped 49ers vs. Cardinals

How learning from mistakes against Seahawks helped 49ers vs. Cardinals

SANTA CLARA -- Less than a week after their Monday night loss in overtime, it looked like another long day was ahead for the 49ers after they fell behind the Cardinals 16-0 early in the second quarter. 

What happened instead was San Francisco's largest regular-season come-from-behind win since 2011. It wasn’t without mistakes. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw two interceptions and there were still a few dropped passes, but the team as a whole seemed to have a much shorter memory for their mistakes than they did just six days prior. 

“I wouldn’t say that it was a huge emphasis but guys were locked in,” Garoppolo said. “I think that game against Seattle will do us good going forward, just being put in those tough situations. 

“Things are going to go wrong in these games at some point. It’s just how you respond and I thought things weren’t going our way early but guys stayed focused and stayed locked in on the sideline and just went out and did their job.”

The 49ers were without tight end George Kittle, and receiver Emmanuel Sanders had limited snaps due to injuries. Deebo Samuel consequently became Garoppolo’s top target again, catching eight of his 10 targets for 134 yards. 

The drops that the receivers had in the loss to the Seahawks were diminished by their preparation throughout the week. 

“We put more emphasis in the receiver room that we are going to catch like one hundred to two hundred balls every day in practice,” Samuel said. “So we are more locked in, ready and prepared.”

Tight end Ross Dwelley, who stepped up in Kittle’s place, scored the first two touchdowns of his career. He pointed to Garoppolo as the catalyst for the team’s mental toughness on the field. 

“It kind of goes back to Jimmy,” Dwelley said. “He is such a good leader. He just has that next-play mentality. That rubs off on everybody else.”

Kyle Shanahan had a slightly varied insistence over the course of the week. He asked the receivers to imagine their mistakes as opposed to their success, emphasizing how they would bounce back from adversity. 

[RELATED: Grading 49ers' offense, defense in win over Cardinals]

“We still had some drops,” Shanahan said. “What I liked was that the guys didn’t go into a shell over it. There were a couple drops in the game. I know Deebo missed that one early and came back and had one of his best games. 

“Our guys, they stepped it up. I know they had a challenging week last week and I think they were one of the reasons we won today.”

Saints' Sean Payton snaps over failed two-point conversion vs. 49ers

Saints' Sean Payton snaps over failed two-point conversion vs. 49ers

Saints coach Sean Payton wasn't in a mood to be second-guessed following his team's last-minute Week 14 loss to the 49ers.

San Francisco ultimately won the thrilling back-and-forth matchup by two measly points -- a game in which New Orleans attempted two two-point conversions.

Both failed.

After Tre'Quan Smith scored on an 18-yard touchdown pass to give New Orleans a 46-45 lead with 53 seconds remaining, quarterback Drew Brees went back to the same well for the two-point conversion attempt, but the pass intended fell incomplete. On the ensuing possession, 49ers tight end George Kittle caught a 39-yard reception on fourth-and-2, eventually setting up a game-winning Robbie Gould 30-yard field goal as time expired.

But after the tough loss, it was the former two-point try, not the latter, that Payton was questioned about -- while shopping for groceries, no less.

"I certainly understand the fans asking questions," Payton said Thursday on his weekly WWL Radio show. "I got the guy at frickin' Whole Foods asking me about the two-point play. I looked at him, the guy in the meat section, and I said, 'Hey, your steaks don't look too good right now. Worry about your frickin' meat.' "

Oh man. What's the over/under on how many "Worry about your frickin' meat" shirts will be at the Superdome when the Saints host the Colts on Monday night?

The play in question occurred midway through the first quarter, after Saints tight end Jared Cook hauled in his second touchdown reception of the contest. The 49ers were assessed a personal foul on the play, and rather than take the yardage on the kickoff, Payton couldn't pass up being so close to the goal line.

On the two-point try, Brees handed the ball off to a motioning Taysom Hill, who promptly was stuffed by multiple San Francisco defenders well short of the end zone. 

"I didn't feel like kicking a touchback, thought about kicking an onside kick," Payton explained. "So on the 1-yard line, I think we're gonna get two points. And then we get the defense misaligned -- obviously it doesn't have any success. And then the game ends, and, 'Why were you going for two?' Because I wanted to. We were on the 1-yard line."

Misaligned, huh? Payton was correct in stating that the 49ers were in an atypical alignment with two safeties on the same side of the field, but according to San Francisco defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, that was intentional.

"We knew it was coming," Saleh said Thursday in response to Payton's claim that one of the safeties accidentally lined up on the wrong side. "I’m not going to say he wasn’t on the right side because of the way we execute certain things and all our different goal-line packages that we have, but that play was a gimme one to me with Taysom Hill where he was aligned. That was a layup in my opinion."

[RELATED: 49ers severely battered, bruised with three regular-season games to go]

The tape sure seems to suggest the 49ers knew what was coming:

The Saints hung 46 points on the 49ers, so clearly, not many of Payton's play-calls were of the layup variety. But the first two-point attempt?

You might say he butchered that one.

George Kittle's strong run-blocking skills for 49ers proved by stat

George Kittle's strong run-blocking skills for 49ers proved by stat

"George Kittle, not really a blocker ... "

We didn't say this, but FS1's Doug Gottlieb sure did. And Gottlieb certainly heard the comments from everyone online essentially saying he didn't know what he was talking about.

But if you still need numbers to back up the 49ers tight end's elite blocking skills, Next Gen Stats has you covered: 

Kittle certainly has a presence -- both in the run and the pass game -- and the numbers show that. 

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has praised Kittle's run-blocking game before, which only adds to the evidence proving sometimes, it's best to watch Kittle continue in his greatness -- no comments necessary.

[RELATED: Kittle was key success in run game vs. Ravens]

To add to it, Gottlieb's comments came after the 49ers' Week 13 20-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, one where the tight end received an overall 72.9 grade from Pro Football Focus and a 78.1 run-blocking grade.

That was Kittle's best run-blocking grade of the season to that point.