49ers

How Matt Breida's speed, 49ers’ perfect blocks led to game-opening TD

How Matt Breida's speed, 49ers’ perfect blocks led to game-opening TD

SANTA CLARA – On a phone call last Tuesday to fullback Kyle Juszczyk, 49ers run game coordinator Mike McDaniel told him the misdirection run play “14 Suzie” would be part of the team’s game plan against the Cleveland Browns.

McDaniel also made a promise.

“We went over it, and he said it was going to be an absolute gash,” Juszczyk said after the 49ers' 31-3 victory over the Browns.

Coach Kyle Shanahan on Sunday night shared with the offense that he planned to open the game with the run play to Matt Breida.

“You’re always hoping when you get the right (defensive) call, it will be about 20 yards, but Breida did the rest and made a house call,” Shanahan said on The 49ers Insider Podcast.

After the 49ers’ defense forced the Browns to punt on their first offensive possession, the offense took over at their own 17-yard line. Eleven seconds later, Breida completed an 83-yard touchdown run to give the 49ers a 7-0 lead.

Powered by the first offensive play of the game, the 49ers cruised to a 31-3 victory over the overmatched Browns on Monday night.

“You want to come out and start fast, and that’s about as fast as you can start,” 49ers center Weston Richburg said.

The run play starts right with both backs moving in that direction. Then, the play veers to the left with Juszczyk making a cut block of Cleveland defensive end Olivier Vernon while left tackle Justin Skule rode defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson to the inside.

Left guard Laken Tomlinson got 3 yards downfield, where he took Browns rookie linebacker Mack Wilson completely out of the play. Tight end George Kittle, who lined up next to Skule, peeled back to block cornerback T.J. Carrie.

“Juice kicks out the end and leaves me one-on-one with the corner, which is usually an easy block for me,” Kittle said. “When you have speed like (Breida), he hits that downhill and the safety takes a bad angle.”

Richburg won his one-on-one block against defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi. Right tackle Mike McGlinchey kept Myles Garrett from pursuing from the back side, and right guard Mike Person walled off safety Morgan Burnett.

“We got some backs who can run and we also have some guys who can block,” Shanahan said. “So when you get guys out of a gap by (Juszczyk) cutting their nine technique (Vernon), you’re going to be one-on-one.”

All Breida had to do was get past Browns deep safety Demarius Randall, which appeared quite simple. Breida reached the speed of 22.3 mph, according to NextGen Stats. He breezed past Randall, who took a poor angle and did not have the speed to catch up.

“You always want them to go the distance, so looking up and seeing Matt run down the sideline was awesome,” said Skule, who added he kept imagining that play over and over leading up to the game.

After the game, Richburg said he was not even sure which running back scored on the play. That’s the kind of balance the 49ers feel they have with their running backs, as each is capable of turning in a big play.

Breida gained 114 yards on 11 rushing attempts, while Tevin Coleman gained 97 yards on 16 carries. The 49ers gained 275 yards rushing as a team against the Browns.

[RELATED: 49ers ride 275 yards from 'great backfield' in blowout win vs. Browns]

“We have a lot of guys in the stable of running backs who can do the job,” Richburg said.

Said Tomlinson, “Can’t wait to re-watch that on film. ... The way he runs like that, he’s hard to catch. It was awesome to see.”

49ers report card: Grades on offense, defense in 36-26 win over Cardinals

49ers report card: Grades on offense, defense in 36-26 win over Cardinals

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers were in danger of tumbling out of first place in the NFC West on Sunday.

The pesky Arizona Cardinals got off to a roaring start and controlled the 49ers for much of the first half. But the 49ers rallied from a 16-point deficit for a 36-26 victory at Levi’s Stadium.

The comeback was the 49ers’ largest in the regular season since coming back from 20 down to beat the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 2, 2011. In the NFC Championship in January 2013, the 49ers came back from a 17-point deficit to defeat the Atlanta Falcons.

The 49ers (9-1) extended their lead in the NFC West to a full game over the idle Seattle Seahawks (8-2).

Here are the 49ers’ grades from the Week 11 victory:

Rushing offense

The 49ers were having such little success that coach Kyle Shanahan scrapped the running game altogether in the second half.

“I think that was the first time I consciously got away from it in the second half, just because it didn’t look like it was going well,” Shanahan said. “I think they were playing really well upfront. We weren’t creating a ton of lanes.”

Matt Breida was sidelined with an ankle injury. Tevin Coleman had just 14 yards rushing on 12 attempts, while Raheem Mostert added 13 yards on six carries. The only good thing that can be said about the 49ers’ running game is they did not fumble.

Grade: D-minus

Passing offense

It was not without some drama, but ultimately quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo got the job done with a career-high 424 passing yards, including the game-winning 25-yarder to third-string running back Jeff Wilson in the closing minute.

Garoppolo completed 34 of 45 passes with four touchdowns and two interceptions. His passer rating was 115.4.

Both of his interceptions came deep in Arizona territory in the second half and looked to be costly. Then, he drove the 49ers 65 yards on eight plays for the go-ahead touchdown.

Deebo Samuel had eight catches for 134 yards, and tight end Ross Dwelley had four receptions for 14 yards and two touchdowns.

Grade: A-minus

Rushing Defense

The 49ers had a difficult time bottling up the quarterback-driven run game of Kyler Murray, as he gained 67 yards on just eight attempts. And when he was not keeping the ball to himself, he was giving it to Kenyan Drake, who also had 67 yards on 16 carries.

Linebackers Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw led the way for the 49ers’ defense with 12 and 10 tackles.

Grade: C-plus

Passing Defense

Murray had a solid day, completing 24 of 33 passes for 150 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. But the 49ers also forced two fumbles in the passing game.

Newly signed defensive end Damontre Moore had a big forced fumble in the closing minute and Jaquiski Tartt recovered. Then, in a desperation situation, D.J. Reed scooped up a fumble and returned it 4 yards for a touchdown on the final play of the game.

Dee Ford, DeForest Buckner and Jimmie Ward were credited with sacks.

Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman had a difficult day in coverage against Arizona wide receiver Christian Kirk. Sherman was called three pass interference penalties totaling 72 yards.

Grade: B

Special Teams

The 49ers held their own on special teams.

Kicker Chase McLaughlin, filling in for injured Robbie Gould, made three extra points and a 43-yard field goal attempt. Punter Mitch Wishnowsky averaged 50.5 yards net on his two punts.

Richie James averaged 4.0 yards on two punt returns and 23.3 yards on three kickoffs.

Grade: B

[RELATED: Kittle reacts to Dwelley's big game]

Overall

Considering how this game started, the 49ers can feel fortunate to escape with a victory and a one-game lead in the division.

The 49ers bounced back on a short week to withstand a gritty performance from the Cardinals, who gave the NFC West leaders everything they could handle.

Despite some agonizing moments for Garoppolo, he rallied the team with a game-winning drive late in regulation.

The defensive performance was not dominant, but the 49ers made the plays necessary to win for the ninth time in 10 games this season.

Grade: B

49ers' Jeff Wilson makes only offensive play count in win vs. Arizona

49ers' Jeff Wilson makes only offensive play count in win vs. Arizona

SANTA CLARA -- On the biggest play of the game, 49ers running back Jeff Wilson was on the field for his first offensive snap.

“That might be all you get, so you better be ready for it,” Wilson said.

On Sunday, that was all Wilson got. And, boy, was he ready.

One day after turning 24, Wilson had a celebration -- the result of his ability to remain focused and loose. Wilson rose to the occasion to beat an all-out blitz with a 25-yard catch and run on a quick pass from Jimmy Garoppolo as the key play in a 36-26 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

Wilson’s first career touchdown reception gave the 49ers the lead with 31 seconds remaining Sunday afternoon at Levi’s Stadium.

The 49ers added a touchdown on the final play of the game, when the Cardinals fumbled in desperation mode and D.J. Reed returned it 4 yards for a touchdown. The 49ers improved to 9-1 on the season, and Wilson was the latest unexpected hero to emerge.

[RELATED: How crazy final-play TD in 49ers' victory affected bettors]

Matt Breida was sidelined with an ankle sprain, and the 49ers did not get much production on the ground from Tevin Coleman or Raheem Mostert. Coleman had 14 yards on 12 attempts, while Mostert gained 13 yards on six carries.

After a delay for a booth review, the 49ers entered the huddle trailing 26-23 with 37 seconds remaining with the ball at the Arizona 25.

Coach Kyle Shanahan made the decision to put Wilson in the game because he was effective running the upcoming play during the practices leading up to the game.

“Honestly, we were in the huddle initially and it was Tevin next to me and then I went to the sideline and was talking to Kyle and came back and all of a sudden it was Jeff next to me,” Garoppolo said. “You got to tip your hat to him to be ready in that situation. As big of a moment as that was, I think it was his first offensive snap and, I mean, to do that, it’s incredible.”

The play opened up for Wilson when Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph called an all-out blitz, leaving the middle of the field open and Wilson matched up against edge rusher Chandler Jones, who leads the NFL with 12.5 sacks.

On the previous play, tight end Ross Dwelley caught a 3-yard pass on a third-and-3 situation. Shanahan said he was going to go for it on fourth down if Dwelley had been stopped short. And when the 49ers got the first down, it gave them time to get Wilson into the game for his one play.

“It was neat watching him just because that was the play we were calling as long as we got the first (down),” Shanahan said. “When they were reviewing it and watching Jeff do high knees in the huddle, trying to get warmed up for the route. Glad he had the time to get loose.

“You had five guys in protection and they are usually bringing six, so it can be a very bad call or it can be a very good call. It’s going to be one or the other when it’s over.”

Wilson said he knew Jones would be matched against him when he saw Cardinals linebacker Haason Reddick move a few feet to his left. That indicated to Wilson that Reddick would blitz and if Wilson exited the backfield around the left side, Jones would be responsible for covering him.

“I knew he was one of the better guys on their defense, but I also knew he was a D-end,” Wilson said of Jones. “His hips aren’t that good. He can’t move side to side, especially when his whole body was turned. So it was a simple one step, cut across his face, go get the ball.”

Wilson made the inside move on Jones, who stumbled and fell. Wilson caught the pass and outran safety Jalen Thompson and split Budda Baker and Patrick Peterson to arrive untouched into the end zone.

[RELATED: Jimmy G put team on his shoulders, carried 49ers to win]

The game-deciding play was not the only time Wilson stepped on the field, of course. He also served as one of team’s core special-teams players. He said he stayed mentally sharp due to the nature of the game and being in another close, thrilling finish.

“I stay warm by watching. My teammates give me thrills,” Wilson said. “You do a little stretch here and there, and I play special teams, as well. Special teams always keep me loose.”