49ers

Instant Analysis: Garoppolo does it again, leads 49ers to third straight win

Instant Analysis: Garoppolo does it again, leads 49ers to third straight win

BOX SCORE

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers entered Sunday’s game trying to approximate what it might be like to play a meaningful mid-December game.

The Tennessee Titans did not have to pretend. They came to the Bay Area as the No. 5 seed in the AFC playoffs and battling to earn the right to play football in January.

Jimmy Garoppolo led the 49ers down the field in the final minute to set up Robbie Gould’s game-winning 45-yard field goal as time expired for a 25-23 victory over the Titans at Levi’s Stadium. The loss drops the Titans to 8-6 to drop two games behind Jacksonville for the lead in the AFC South.

Garoppolo hit Trent Taylor for 7 yards, George Kittle for 24 yards and Marquise Goodwin for 14 yards to get the 49ers into field-goal range for the 49ers’ third consecutive victory after the Titans left too much time on the clock after a go-ahead field goal late in the fourth quarter.

Titans kicker Ryan Succop made a 50-yard field goal with 1:07 remaining to give Tennessee’s 23-22 lead. But Garoppolo and the 49ers' offense had the final word.

Robbie Gould made all six field-goal attempts, including a 48-yarder with 3:08 remaining to give the 49ers a 22-20 lead. It was his second game-winner in the closing seconds in three weeks. He made all five of his attempts against the Chicago Bears on Dec. 3 in a 15-14 victory. Gould now has made 20 consecutive field-goal attempts.

Garoppolo made his first home start since taking over from C.J. Beathard as the 49ers’ starting quarterback, which provided a little more energy for the home crowd than what would typically be expected for a three-win team.

Garoppolo completed 31 of 43 pass attempts for a career-best 381 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. His passer rating was 106.8. Garoppolo became the first 49ers quarterback since Jeff Garcia in 2000 to throw for more than 300 yards in back-to-back games.

The 49ers pulled to within 20-19 on Gould’s 50-yard field goal in the middle of the fourth quarter. On the 49ers’ next possession, Garoppolo hit Kendrick Bourne for 54 yards and Kittle for 19 yards to get into field-goal range for Gould’s go-ahead kick.

The 49ers would have had a first-and-goal at the 1-yard line, but Taylor’s 20-yard catch-and-run on a third-and-17 play was nullified by Marquise Goodwin’s controversial offensive pass interference call. He was flagged for blocking while the pass was in the air to Taylor.

Tennessee had taken a four-point lead on Marcus Mariota’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Rishard Matthews.

Garoppolo got off to a hot start in leading the 49ers on scoring drives in all four of their first-half possessions until running out the final 29 seconds before of halftime.

The 49ers punched it into the end zone in the second quarter after the team settled for two Gould field goals.

On third and goal from the 5, Garoppolo bought time by rolling to his right and found tight end Garrett Celek alone in the end zone. The touchdown gave the 49ers a 13-3 lead.

The defense forced an immediate takeaway when linebacker Brock Coyle stripped former 49ers tight end Delanie Walker after a short completion. Rookie safety Adrian Colbert recovered at the Tennessee 46-yard line.

The 49ers cashed in with Gould’s 28-yard field goal for a 16-3 lead late in the first half. Gould’s previous kicks were good from 38 and 48 yards.

But Mariota drove the Titans 79 yards down the field in 68 seconds for a touchdown on a 4-yard touchdown pass to Walker. The 49ers led 16-10 at halftime.

GOODWIN, A GOOD ONE
Goodwin has thrived since Garoppolo’s insertion into the starting lineup. Goodwin had eight catches for 99 yards in Garoppolo’s first start against Chicago, then came back for six receptions for 106 yards against Houston.

Goodwin again proved to be a huge part of the team’s offense. He caught a career-high 10 passes for 114 yards and has gained Garoppolo’s trust. In the first half, under pressure Garoppolo threw pass off his back foot that Goodwin went up and caught against Titans defensive back Da’Norris Searcy.

Goodwin was credited with the catch on the simultaneous possession. Tennessee coach Mike Mularkey challenged the call, but the play was upheld as a Goodwin catch for 10 yards.

THIS ‘N’ THAT
--Cornerback Tyvis Powell was active for the game with backup Greg Mabin being ruled out of action due to a calf injury. Ahkello Witherspoon, who was listed as questionable with a knee injury, started and played the entire game.

--Garoppolo completed 18 of 26 passes for 189 yards in the first half, already giving him more yards passing in his first 2 ½ games as the starter than any other 49ers quarterback in his first three starts in franchise history.

--Wide receiver Aldrick Robinson sustained a concussion in the first half on an incomplete pass near the Titans sideline. He was ruled out for the game, and now goes into the NFL’s return-to-play protocol.

--Garoppolo completed passes to nine different receivers – including himself. Garoppolo’s fourth-quarter pass was deflected by Titans defensive lineman Austin Johnson at the line of scrimmage and ended up back in Garoppolo’s hands. He tried to advance the ball but linebacker Wesley Woodyard dropped him for a 6-yard loss.

Greg Cosell singles out 49ers player he believes is poised for a breakout season

kittlegeorgerunrams.jpg
AP

Greg Cosell singles out 49ers player he believes is poised for a breakout season

With the 146th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers selected...

George Kittle.

The tight end from Iowa had a solid rookie season -- racking up 43 catches for 515 yards and two touchdowns.

On the latest episode of the 49ers Insider Podcast with Matt Maiocco, Greg Cosell of NFL Films was talking about Kyle Shanahan and Rams head coach Sean McVay. And then unsolicited, pivoted the conversation to Kittle.

"You know, I think one player we should mention who I really liked coming out of college -- and I know he fought some injuries last year but I think that he has a chance to be a really meaningul part of this offense -- and that's George Kittle," Cosell said. "I think George Kittle is a really good tight end who can do a lot of things.

"He can line up and be a really good blocking tight end -- and obviously we know that Kyle's offense does start with the run game. I think he's more athletic than people probably give him credit for.

"I remember studying him coming out of Iowa and looking at some of his Combine measureables -- some were superior to those of OJ Howard from Alabama, and I think people would be surprised by that.

"In this offense he might not catch 80 balls, but he might average 14-15 yards a catch, and for a tight end that's pretty darn good."

Kittle had his best game in the season finale -- four catches for 100 yards at the Rams.

Why Greg Cosell believes Jimmy Garoppolo needs work on his 'quarterback feet'

jimmygredeyes.jpg
USATSI

Why Greg Cosell believes Jimmy Garoppolo needs work on his 'quarterback feet'

Greg Cosell, a senior producer at NFL Films, believes 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo “has a chance to be a top-level quarterback.” But there remains room for improvement from the player the 49ers awarded a franchise-record contract in the offseason.

Garoppolo has a quick release and can throw at a number of different arm angles to avoid oncoming pass-rushers. And while his accuracy underneath was unquestioned during his 5-0 run as the 49ers’ starter last season, most of the time, his deep throws did not reach the target.

Garoppolo completed just 4 of 16 attempts to targets 20 yards or more down the field last season for 134 yards and no touchdowns with no interceptions, according to Pro Football Focus.

[RELATED: Greg Cosell: Kyle Shanahan does one thing 'better than any coach in the NFL']

During the offseason program, Garoppolo appeared to struggle on his deep throws, too. Cosell, a guest on the 49ers Insider Podcast, spoke about Garoppolo’s mechanics.

“Because he has very quick feet, I think people just assume he has great feet all the time when he delivers the ball,” Cosell said. “There’s a difference between having quick, athletic feet and having really good quarterback feet. And I think he needs to work on the quarterback feet part.

“I think guys who have that kind of snap delivery, sometimes they don’t step exactly to their throw and they throw a little bit off-balance, and that could really impact your accuracy to a significant degree. So my guess is those are the kinds of things they’ve worked on. Those are tweaks. I don’t think it will prevent him from being a really good player.”

Garoppolo appeared in six games with five starts last season after the 49ers acquired him for a second-round draft pick in a trade with the New England Patriots. Garoppolo completed 120 of 178 pass attempts (67.4 percent) for 1,580 yards and seven touchdowns with five interceptions.

Cosell said it is important for all quarterbacks to use consistent mechanics when making throws from a clean pocket.

“Think of a major league pitcher,” Cosell said. “They theoretically should throw the ball the same way every time. So should a quarterback unless the defense dictates otherwise. If the defense doesn’t dictate otherwise, the throws should look the same.”