CINCINNATI -- As the jubilant 49ers squad returned the locker room, excited to return home after a 10-day stint on the road, on the opposite side of the stadium, a stunned Bengals team wondered what exactly had hit them.
The 49ers offense got into a rhythm and there was no stopping them. They put 41 points up on the board and racked up 572 yards of offense. The defense sacked Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton four times and intercepted him once. That’s not to say the 49ers were perfect, because they weren’t.
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw three touchdown passes, but still notched an interception on an obvious bad decision. There were blown coverages made by San Francisco's defense, but all-in-all it was a dominant performance on the field.
What might have been the most crucial piece to the 49ers’ dominance of the Bengals was the football mind of Kyle Shanahan. The offense pulled out all the stops, using misdirection and even a trick play to throw Cincinnati off, and created mismatches that they were able to take advantage of.
Shanahan and the offense left the Bengals defense dazed and confused. The evidence is in their postgame quotes.
Bengals head coach Zac Taylor
“We just need to be better with our eyes. They do a really good job with the play-actions off the run game. When they’re running the ball so successfully and you’re hell-bent on stopping the run, that’s when they pop one on you over the top. That’s where you saw that come from.”
“They can be sound in what they’re doing defensively by keeping everything in front of them. Offensively, they have all facets of their game open.”
Cornerback William Jackson
“They came out with a lot of gadget plays. They used every trick in the book.”
“It’s about having the right eyes and being in the right spot. They clearly play some Madden.”
Defensive end Carlos Dunlap
“They out-executed us with their game plan.”
“They challenged our eyes and leverage. All day.”
“It was everything. Pre-snap, post-snap, changing gaps and challenging us on the edge. They challenged us on the edge trying to bounce the ball. They were making more plays than us. I missed some plays early. We have to make plays.”
Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick
“They got us a little off. They got us rattled today. We definitely could have communicated better, and executed the plays better. For the most part, they played hard-nosed football and took it right to us today.”
“They ran a lot of trick plays -- a lot of misdirection plays. There are some things we have to work on, obviously. For the most part, to me personally, they just brought it to us. They outplayed us. They just shoved it down us. We couldn’t get it going today.”
49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo
Jimmy G even recognized the rhythm that Shanahan was in calling plays in Cincinnati. He explained how it makes his job easier and keeps the momentum going.
“His mind is incredible,” Garoppolo said of his head coach. “Just how he’s two plays ahead while we’re running the current play. It makes everything so easy. When he gets in a rhythm like that, it puts everyone in a good position.”
Shanahan spoke earlier in the week about the staff working longer hours because they were on the road and away from their families. It paid dividends in Cincinnati, but hopefully they won’t have to sacrifice their personal lives for another strong performance in Week 3.