Week 14 recap: 49ers win 2nd straight road game, beat Houston Texans, 26-16

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QB Jimmy Garoppolo is all smiles after winning his second game in as many starts for the San Francisco 49ers.

Post-Game Review
Winning feels good. The San Francisco 49ers have now won two straight games since inserting Jimmy G into the starting lineup. Outlasting the Texans 26-16 behind Garoppolo’s career day, the 49ers moved to 3-10 overall on the season, despite a superhuman effort by Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

Jimmy Garoppogoat posted a career high in passing yards (334) as the 49ers offense shined once again under his command. He looked calm and collected in the face of pressure from a relentless Texans pass rush that got to him 11 times (2 sacks, 9 hits), but he showed effortless arm talent and above average accuracy, again. Carlos Hyde also had a productive day on the ground, going for 78 yards and a touchdown, but it’s hard to overlook the dime from Garoppolo he misplayed that cost the 49ers another easy TD.

Marquise Goodwin had another fantastic day, and him and Jimmy G seem to have great chemistry already, and they make for a fun duo. This appears to be the offense that Kyle Shanahan envisioned when acquiring Garoppolo, the scheme is creating easy throws, allowing the offense to move the ball easily and efficiently. Next season looks to be very interesting if Garoppolo continues this level of play and as the 49ers continue to add offensive talent for Shanahan and Garoppolo to utilize.

The 49ers defense, especially cornerback Dontae Johnson, had their hands full with Texans star DeAndre Hopkins. Accounting for nearly half of the Texans total offense, both touchdowns and 78 percent of TJ Yates passing yards, Hopkins was unstoppable, until the penultimate drive.

Backing up a bit, the 49ers run defense was stout as they held Lamar Miller and Andre Ellington to just 59 yards on 20 carries (2.95 yards per carry). The 49ers secondary also had a fine day stopping everyone except Hopkins, keeping the rest of Texans receiving corps to just 9 catches for 89 yards. The 49ers defensive youth (Adrian Colbert, Reuben Foster, DeForest Buckner) were phenomenal against Houston, making plays all over the field. You would like to see the 49ers cause more turnovers, ranking 25th in the league, but they have been doing a much better job pressuring the QB and containing the run as of late.

MVP
Jimmy Gucci has been everything 49er fans have hoped for, and more. He continues to show accuracy and poise that are necessary for a franchise QB, and the difference seen in his arm talent versus Beathard or Hoyer is huge. This type of play will get him paid big money in the offseason, and will have people seeing a lot of number 10 jerseys around Santa Clara.

I also want to give Adrian Colbert some love here. I learned about his tough upbringing thanks to this amazing article by Matt Barrows, and he has been great all year. The 7th round pick has played like a steal all season and is playing himself into a starting spot this season, and probably next season as well. He made all types of play against the Texans, flying around the field making tackles and breaking up a 3rd down pass, and he also helped seal the game on the Texans second-to-last drive by forcing DeAndre Hopkins to fumble, allowing the 49ers to kick a FG and go up by two scores. It’s hard to not root for guys like Colbert, and seeing him succeed makes me, and many other football fans, very happy.

LVP
Dontae Johnson could not have played any more poorly today. Being matched up with Hopkins is no easy task, but he looked lost on almost every coverage snap. He also got hit with a pass interference call in the 3rd quarter. Johnson was eventually benched for Greg Mabin, and if he keeps playing this poorly, the free agent-to-be will not be back in a 49ers uniform next season.

Play of the Game
Adrian Colbert’s forced fumble was the clincher for the 49ers against the Texans. Hopkins caught a screen pass and got a little reckless holding the ball loosely in his left hand, which he does often, and Colbert just put his helmet right into the ball, setting up Gould’s field goal attempt to put the 49ers up by 10 with less than 4 minutes left, which the Texans never recovered from.

Next Up
The 49ers return home to Santa Clara next week to start their final homestand of the season against the top two teams in the AFC South, the Titans and Jaguars. The Titans are up first, and despite being 8-5, they are a very beatable team. I don’t want to get cocky or overzealous, but I haven’t been overly impressed with the Titans this season, and it’ll be interesting to see how they respond after losing 12-7 to the Cardinals.

These two teams haven’t met since before the Mariota-era for Tennessee, with the last meeting being a 31-17 49er victory in 2013. Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore led the way for the 49er victory with 3 combined rushing touchdowns.

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