Cincinnati Bengals

Kyle Shanahan's football mind at root of 49ers' dominant win vs. Bengals

Kyle Shanahan's football mind at root of 49ers' dominant win vs. Bengals

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.”

[RELATED: Jimmy G tops fantasy QBs to add with Big Ben, Brees out]

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.

49ers snap count: Matt Breida starts, shines, rests in win vs. Bengals

49ers snap count: Matt Breida starts, shines, rests in win vs. Bengals

Running back Matt Breida made the most of his limited snaps Sunday in the 49ers’ 41-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Breida started but played just 21 snaps of offense. Before he was told to take the rest of the day off, he rushed for a game-high 121 yards on 12 carries. He also caught one pass for 11 yards.

The 49ers made a point to spread the ball around in the running game, as the club played its first game without Tevin Coleman, who sustained a high-ankle sprain in Week 1.

“That was the plan all year,” Breida said. “All of us are great running backs, and all of us are starters.”

Raheem Mostert, whom the 49ers consider one of the top special teams players in the league, did not get much work in the kicking game. But he played 34 snaps at running back and came through with 83 yards rushing on 13 carries to go along with three catches for 68 yards and a touchdown.

The 49ers promoted Jeff Wilson from the practice squad on Saturday, and he played 15 snaps. Wilson gained 34 yards and his first two NFL touchdowns on 10 rushing attempts.

“We’ve got a bunch of guys that can run the ball,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “We were happy that we were able to keep Jeff around here. We knew it was just a matter of time before we were going to need him.

“The guys stepped up huge. Breida, we took care of him in the second half and tried to take away some of the wear and tear on him.”

Wide receiver Deebo Samuel took fewer snaps on Sunday but experienced an increase in production. Samuel, who played 29 of the 49ers’ 72 snaps against the Bengals, caught five passes for 87 yards and a touchdown.

Dante Pettis played just two snaps in the 49ers’ season-opener at Tampa Bay. On Sunday, he played 35 snaps but did not catch a pass. He completed a 16-yard pass to Mostert on a gadget play.

[RELATED: Grading 49ers' offense, defense in big road win vs. Bengals]

The 49ers had a constant rotation of defensive lineman, as each of the nine linemen who suited up for the game played at least 21 snaps.

Dee Ford played 25 snaps in the first half but did not play in the second half after experiencing irritation in his quad, Shanahan said. Ford was on a stationary bike on the 49ers’ sideline throughout the second half.

Offense

Total offensive snaps: 72
Quarterback – Jimmy Garoppolo 72
Running back – Kyle Juszczyk 37, Raheem Mostert 34, Matt Breida 21, Jeff Wilson 15
Wide receiver – Marquise Goodwin 37, Dante Pettis 35, Richie James 33, Deebo Samuel 29, Kendrick Bourne 23
Tight end – George Kittle 48, Levine Toilolo 34, Ross Dwelley 14
Offensive line – Mike McGlinchey 72, Weston Richburg 72, Laken Tomlinson 72, Mike Person 66, Joe Staley 53, Justin Skule 19, Ben Garland 6
Did not play – Nick Mullens

Defense

Total defensive snaps: 70
Defensive line – Arik Armstead 43, D.J. Jones 37, Ronald Blair 35, DeForest Buckner 34, Solomon Thomas 33, Nick Bosa 31, Dee Ford 25, Sheldon Day 24, Jullian Taylor 21
Linebacker – Fred Warner 55, Kwon Alexander 52, Dre Greenlaw 20, Azeez Al-Shaair 15, Mark Nzeocha 1
Defensive back – Tarvarius Moore 70, Ahkello Witherspoon 69, Jaquiski Tartt 55, Richard Sherman 54, K’Waun Williams 50, Emmanuel Moseley 16, Antone Exum 15, D.J. Reed 15

Special teams

Total special teams plays: 31
Moseley 23, Greenlaw 23, Al-Shaair 19, Exum 19, Dwelley 18, Mitch Wishnowsky 17, Reed 15, Bourne 14, Buckner 13, Armstead 13, Jones 13, Moore 13, Wilson 12, Colin Holba 10, James 9, Witherspoon 9, Robbie Gould 9, Tartt 8, McGlinchey 8, Richburg 8, Person 8, Tomlinson 8, Staley 6, Toilolo 6, Mostert 4, Thomas 4, Juszczyk 3, Warner 2, Garland 2, Ford 1, Alexander 1, Kittle 1, Nzeocha 1

Not active

QB C.J. Beathard
RB Tevin Coleman (ankle)
WR Trent Taylor (foot)
WR Jalen Hurd (back)
CB Jason Verrett
DB Jimmie Ward (finger)
OL Daniel Brunskill

49ers' new-attitude defense shows out vs. Bengals, holds key to wins

49ers' new-attitude defense shows out vs. Bengals, holds key to wins

CINCINNATI — The 49ers' defense was overshadowed by an offense that put 41 points and 572 yards on the board against the Bengals, but it still had a Sunday not to forget.

San Francisco held Cincinnati to 316 yards in total offense, including a shockingly low 25 on the ground. Another 66 yards of that total came on the Bengals' final offensive play -- a garbage-time touchdown pass from Andy Dalton to John Ross. Take that away, and the Bengals' total offensive output was 250 yards as the 49ers rolled 41-17 at Paul Brown Stadium.

That one week after the 49ers held the Buccaneers to 17 points and 295 total yards in a season-opening road win.

Ronald Blair, Solomon Thomas, Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner all recorded quarterback sacks Sunday, and linebacker Kwon Alexander logged his first interception as a 49er and the seventh of his NFL career. The defense also racked up eight pass break-ups, with Alexander responsible for three, Ahkello Witherspoon and D.J. Reed for two apiece, and Jullian Taylor for one.

The 49ers' new attitude on defense is noticeable, and much of the credit for that goes to Alexander and defensive end Dee Ford being added to the lineup and, of course, veteran cornerback Richard Sherman's presence.

Jimmy Garoppolo explained how unique the group is and how Alexander really has changed the mood.

"Yeah, Kwon's awesome, man," the 49ers quarterback said. "He really is. The defense as a whole, it’s a different attitude, and I’ve never been around a defense like that. When I turn the ball over and they hold them to a field goal and miss it, it just gives you so much more confidence in those guys. They played their asses off, and it’s incredible."

Alexander could be considered an instigator of sorts. He's always seen on the sideline with a lot of energy, and if any trash talk is happening on the field, you'd best believe that he's involved. He also takes full responsibility for second-year pro Fred Warner's vocal emergence this season.

[RELATED: Grading 49ers' offense, defense in rout of Bengals]

Alexander believes motivation is cyclical, with all phases of the game keeping the energy high for each other. He thrives off it.

"Everybody buying in, doing what they got to do," Alexander said. "Offense doing what they got to do running the ball, D going out there making plays and turnovers ...

"Everybody was just feeding off each other, and once you do that, once you get a team feeding off each other and playing fast, you’re going to win a lot of games."

So, while the offense had a better showing Sunday, the defense is what could keep the 2-0 49ers' upward trajectory on course. Not only is the unit capable of helping pull out a win when the offense struggles, but the defense can alleviate pressure on Jimmy G and Co. to perform.