49ers

Three quick takeaways from 49ers' 30-27 win over Lions

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AP

Three quick takeaways from 49ers' 30-27 win over Lions

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SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers overcame an error-filled performance Sunday and held on for a 30-27 victory over the Detroit Lions at Levi’s Stadium.

The 49ers evened their record to 1-1, while the Lions fell to 0-2 in the start of coach Matt Patricia’s first season.

On a day when fans received a Jimmy Garoppolo bobblehead, the 49ers quarterback certainly had an up-and-down day. He finished the game completing 18 of 26 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. He also was sacked six times for 50 yards.

It appeared Garoppolo made a critical mistake late in the fourth quarter when he threw an interception, which Lions defensive back Tracy Walker returned to the 49ers' 7-yard line. But a defensive holding penalty on Quandre Diggs nullified the play, and the 49ers held on from there.

Here are three takeaways from the 49ers’ win over the Lions:

Breida takes over

After the season-ending injury to running back Jerick McKinnon, the tandem of Alfred Morris and Matt Breida took over to share the load. Coach Kyle Shanahan figured the circumstances of every game would dictate how Breida and Morris are deployed.

Again, the playing time and carries were shared. But all the success went to Breida, who got the starting assignment after Morris started in Week 1 against the Minnesota Vikings.

Breida got off to a good start with a 28-yard run to open the game. And he appeared to put the game away near the end of the third quarter with a 66-yard touchdown run.

Breida set a career high with 138 yards on 11 rushing attempts. His previous career high came last season when he rushed for 74 yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Morris had 48 yards rushing on 14 carries. He also caught two passes for 32 yards.

Breida caught three passes for 21 yards.

Waiting for Reuben

Second-year pro Elijah Lee got his first NFL start, as veteran linebacker Malcolm Smith still has not made it onto the field. He missed his 18th consecutive regular-season game since signing with the 49ers on the first day of free agency in 2017.

Brock Coyle, who started the opener in Minnesota, was placed on injured reserve after sustaining a fracture of a bone in his back. The 49ers’ thin linebacker corps will receive some much-needed help Monday, when Reuben Foster is eligible to return from a two-game suspension for violations of the NFL’s policies on substances of abuse and personal conduct.

Lee had a difficult beginning to the game with a couple of missed tackles that enabled the Lions to keep a drive alive en route to their first touchdown. But he later provided a big play with a strip-sack of Matthew Stafford that led to Cassius Marsh’s fumble recovery in the second quarter.

Lee got things together and finished with a team-high 12 tackles.

But the 49ers’ defense was anything but perfect, as cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon was hobbled throughout the week with an ankle injury and struggled with coverage and penalties. Jimmie Ward eventually took over for him late in the game.

Too much Gould

Kicker Robbie Gould set a club record with his two field goals in the first half, giving him 28 consecutive made attempts. That streak breaks the standard Phil Dawson set with the 49ers in 2013 with 27 consecutive made field goals.

Gould hit another field goal in the third quarter, extending his own record with a 29th consecutive made field goal. His made field goals were from 45, 42 and 36 yards.

That’s the good news. The bad news is the 49ers kept settling for field goals with failed red-zone opportunities on two of their three first-half trips inside the 20-yard line.

Garoppolo took two sacks on the 49ers’ first red-zone chance. The 49ers got into the end zone when Kendrick Bourne lined up in the backfield and was uncovered, allowing Garoppolo to make an easy pitch and catch for a 4-yard touchdown.

The 49ers got into the end zone on their first drive of the third quarter. Garoppolo hit tight end Garrett Celek -- the eighth different target up to that point -- for an 11-yard score, giving the 49ers a 20-10 lead.

Jimmy Garoppolo had good reason for missing Emmanuel Sanders' TD pass

Jimmy Garoppolo had good reason for missing Emmanuel Sanders' TD pass

The 49ers threw five touchdown passes in their thrilling 48-46 road win over the Saints on Sunday. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo tossed four of them. The player who was on the receiving end of his second was the gunslinger on the other passing score.

Three offensive plays after wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders caught a 75-yard touchdown -- the longest TD pass of Garoppolo's career -- San Francisco utilized some trickery against New Orleans, as Sanders took a reverse before tossing a 35-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Raheem Mostert. Sanders actually made a great adjustment to avoid the oncoming rush, and this throw was right on the money.

It turns out, though, that Jimmy G didn't see it in the moment, and he had a funny explanation as to why.

"I didn't actually get to see it," Garoppolo admitted with a smile following the victory. "I was 'blocking'".

Don't sell yourself short, Jimmy. Another look at the tape reveals that Garoppolo indeed was "blocking" on the right side of the 49ers' offensive line during the developing play, and even threw a shoulder -- the non-throwing one, of course -- into an oncoming rusher.

[RELATED: 'You're balling': Garcia praises Jimmy G for recent play]

The play probably would have been successful without Garoppolo's blocking, but his additional effort made it that much more impressive. He might not have seen Sanders' great throw in real-time, but hey, that's what replays are for.

49ers disappointed with lack of defensive execution in win over Saints

49ers disappointed with lack of defensive execution in win over Saints

NEW ORLEANS -- For the second week in a row, the 49ers' defense got off to a slow start on Sunday in their 48-46 win over the Saints

Prior to their matchup in New Orleans, the 49ers' defense was ranked second in the NFL by allowing only 267.4 yards of offense per game -- 116.6 on the ground and 150.8 through the air. Quarterback Drew Brees and the Saints crushed those numbers, with 465 yards of total offense. 

The defense was unable to sack Brees after successfully getting to opposing quarterbacks 45 times over their first 12 games. Missed tackles and blown assignments allowed the Saints to put up 27 points in the first half alone. 

Cornerback Richard Sherman, who left the game early with a hamstring injury, seemed more disappointed by the performance of the defense than upset. While the 49ers have often relied on their defense to control and direct the outcome of games, this time the offense was the difference maker

“Thank goodness for our offense,” Sherman said. “Thank goodness for Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle, obviously Kyle Shanahan, the entire offense. They made plays when they had to. We’re thankful we got the win.” 

Sherman’s disappointment fell predominantly on the mistakes in basic coverage and a lack of execution. 

“It’s frustrating because of simple plays,” Sherman said. “It’s things we’ve gone over. It’s not like they beat us with a bunch of trick misdirection plays. These are day-one football plays that we have to execute better. 

“Give credit to them. Drew saw them, found the people that were open, and made the plays. Give them credit, they had a good plan coming in, but we have to execute better.” 

Defensive lineman DeForest Buckner couldn’t put his finger on why the defense came out flat for the second week in a row, but definitely recognized the issue. 

“Early on we needed to get our feet set and they jumped on us early,” Buckner said. “I feel like towards the second half we started to make key stops and keep them to field goals. They got us on that last drive. Our offense responded well and we know there’s things that we need to clean up.” 

[RELATED: 49ers' Moore mocks Saints for not knowing rule on fake punt]

The 49ers have a week to prepare for their next matchup facing the Falcons, and must have a much stronger start defensively. 

“We just have to come out with more energy,” Buckner said. “Two weeks we came out kind of slow and that’s just not like us. So we just got to get back to what we do and just take it one play at a time.”