Jimmy Garoppolo’s Santa Clara homecoming could not have gone better. Well it could have, but it then it wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting or suspenseful as the 49ers 25-23 victory over the Tennessee Titans. Riding Garoppolo’s right arm and Robbie Gould’s right leg, the 49ers secured their first 3-game winning streak since 2014.
Squaring off against the NFL’s 9th best defense, Jimmy Garoppolo, for the second straight week, set a new career high in passing yards (381) to go with a touchdown pass, and led the 49ers to another comeback victory. After this third dominant showing, Garoppolo has proved that he is the 49ers QB of the future and worthy of a big contract. He has the personality and all the traits you can ask for in a franchise QB, and keeps improving every week. He’s an exciting young player that the 49ers stole for the low price of a second-round pick.
Enough about the new face of the franchise, let’s hit some points about the rest of the offense. Marquise Goodwin has been the biggest beneficiary the QB change, posting his second (almost third) straight game with 100 receiving yards, inching closer to 1000 yards on the season, while the stifling Tennessee defense kept the 49ers run game in check with Carlos Hyde and Matt Breida combining for just 51 yards on 21 carries. The redzone woes continue for a 49er team that struggles to score TDs, with their trips being marred by penalties and/or poorly executed plays.
The 49ers defense did not play poorly, but many of their recurring issues were on display throughout the game. An inconsistent pass defense that allowed too many easy throws for a struggling Titans pass offense, the 49ers allowed Marcus Mariota to go 23/33 for 241 yards and 2 TDs. Those aren’t world-beater numbers, but it’s Mariota’s best performance in over a month. The pass rush continues to be an area in desperate need for improvement, with the 49ers getting to Mariota once for a sack (one was called back) and hitting the Titan QB five times, while committing an unnecessary roughing the passer penalty. However, the 49ers run defense starred against the NFL’s 11th best run offense by holding the Titans to under 100 yards.
Stop me if I sound like a broken record, but Jimmy G and Robbie Gould are going to share the MVP honors. Garoppolo had a fantastic day again with his 381 yards and a touchdown, but Robbie Gould continues to act as the automatic fail safe for the 49ers. For every poor redzone possession, Gould bailed the 49ers out. Going 6-6 on his field goal attempts, and with his overall performance this season, it’s fair to ask where the 49ers would be without Mr. Reliable.
It is never easy to pick out one person to highlight as the LVP, but the offensive line struggled as a unit against a tough Titans defense. Jimmy Garoppolo was sacked 3 times and hit 4 times. These aren’t terrible numbers, but the run blocking was abysmal. Per Chris Biederman (via PFF), Carlos Hyde had 25 yards with 29 yards coming after contact with the Titans having had 7 tackles for loss, meaning that Hyde was being hit constantly behind the line. This prevented the 49ers run game to get any traction, putting the game solely on Garoppolo’s shoulders.
Play of the Game
For the second time in three weeks, a game-winning field goal is the play of the week. Robbie Gould capped off a 6-6 day with a 45-yard kick to extend the 49ers winning streak to 3 games, moving their record to 4-10 on the season. The definition of clutch, according to the 49ers twitter account, Mr. Reliable has been one of the best players on the team this season.
The 49ers have their final home game of the 2017 season against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the AFC’s number 3 seed. Led by the NFL’s best defense, the Jaguars have completely turned their fortunes and have clinched their first playoff appearance since 2007. Going against an elite defense like Jacksonville’s will arguably be the biggest test of Garoppolo’s career.
The 49ers and Jaguars haven’t met since 2013 in London where the 49ers blew out Jacksonville 42-10. The all-time series is tied at 2-2, with the Jaguars last win coming in 2005.