Strange to think it was just 16 days ago that the San Francisco 49ers were reeling after a stunning 43-17 loss at home to the Miami Dolphins. That dropped the reigning NFC champions to 2-3 and to the bottom of the NFC West.
“That’s really embarrassing what we did out there,” 49ers veteran fullback Kyle Juszczyk said after the Miami game.
Two impressive performances later and here come the 49ers again looking like a legitimate contender for the NFC crown.
The 49ers hammered the Patriots, 33-6, in New England on Sunday, a week after San Francisco’s impressive 24-16 win over the Los Angeles Rams.
The Niners are 4-3 entering Sunday’s trip to Seattle, and would anyone be surprised if their Week 17 rematch again decides the NFC West?
Three things to know about the 49ers this week:
They are rolling now
The 49ers handed Bill Belichick his most lopsided home loss as Patriots coach on Sunday.
“We were clearly out-coached, outplayed. Just out-everything,” Belichick said.
Jimmy Garoppolo, three years after being traded from New England to San Francisco, was mostly efficient Sunday, going 20 of 25 for 278 yards. His two interceptions were the only blemish on an otherwise spotless day for the 49ers.
“Couldn’t imagine it going any better than this,” Garoppolo said.
The bounce-back performance from Garoppolo came a day after Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported that San Francisco is “very much keeping its options open” at the QB position for 2021. 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan apparently hasn’t been thrilled the inconsistent play of Garoppolo, whose $26.6 million cap hit this season is fourth-highest in the NFL.
“Kyle thinks he can turn almost anyone into a star,” one league source told La Canfora. “He’s had a lot of success with a lot of different guys and the salary structure on that team has changed dramatically the last few years. He’s not a guy who thinks he needs a $30 million a year QB to win. And they aren’t exactly gushing about the guy that they have now.”
Garoppolo, who missed two games with a high-ankle sprain early this season, was sharp in the victory over the Rams, throwing for 268 yards and three touchdowns.
Against Seattle in 2019, Garoppolo was 42 of 78 for 533 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The Seahawks sacked him five times in their Monday night victory in Santa Clara last season.
Fred Warner: Best linebacker in the NFL?
For years, the Seahawks’ Bobby Wagner has been the gold standard for inside linebacker play. He has company now in the NFC West.
The 49ers’ Fred Warner is starting to get some buzz as an NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidate. He ranks among the top five players at linebacker this season, according to Pro Football Focus’ analysis. (The Seahawks’ K.J. Wright also ranks in PFF’s top five.)
Warner had one of the 49ers’ four interceptions against the Patriots on Sunday, and during the broadcast CBS analyst Tony Romo called Warner “an All-Pro in every sense of the word.”
The 23-year-old Warner, a 2018 third-round pick out of BYU, has 57 tackles, three pass breakups and two interceptions this season. He’s particularly skilled in pass coverage, holding PFF’s No. 1 ranking for a linebacker in coverage.
In the first game against Seattle last year, Warner had one of the best games of his career, with 10 tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble.
They are still hurting
Perhaps no other team has been hit harder by injuries than the 49ers. Their defense Sunday was almost entirely different from the one they fielded last season, with just four starters from the Super Bowl on the field against the Patriots.
Among those injured: ex-Seahawk Richard Sherman (calf), linebacker Kwon Alexander (ankle), defensive end Nick Bosa (knee, out for the year), defensive end Dee Ford (back) and starting safeties Jimmie Ward (quad) and Jaquiski Tartt (groin).
With Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman already on injured reserve, the 49ers turned to Jeff Wilson to start at running back Sunday. He responded with 112 yards and three touchdowns — only to exit the game on his third TD run with an ankle injury. He’s reportedly headed to IR too.
49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (hamstring) also left Sunday’s game and is expected to miss the next two games.