Make no mistake… Kyle Shanahan was the MVP of yesterday’s huge Niner win over the Bengals. He called a brilliant game mixing runs, play-action passes, and innovative screen passes to completely dominate the game, 41 – 17. The Bengals, who played very well at the Seahawks last week, had no clue of what was coming at them every time Garoppolo came to the line of scrimmage. A sign of a well played game is a balanced run/pass attack. The Niners threw for 313 yards on 26 passes while piling on 259 rushing yards on 42 run plays for a total of 572 yards. This is why they are Two and Ohhh to start the season with both W’s on the road. The last time the Niners started 2-0 was in 2012 when they last reached the Super Bowl. Another great decision made by Lynch and Shanahan was to stay in the East time zone after their opening win at Tampa Bay. They stayed and practiced in Youngstown, Ohio all week so the players were well acclimated to that time zone prior to playing the Bengals. The payoff was immediate as they dominated from the very first snap of the game with a sack of Andy Dalton by Arik Armstead.
Following are noteworthy stats and information:
- The Niners had 4 sacks and none of them were recorded by Nick Bosa or Dee Ford, although they both pressured Dalton. The sacks came from Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner, Ronald Blair and Solomon Thomas. This is really promising news as Andy Dalton was under constant pressure all day long. With the strong depth of the D-Line, QB’s will be under pressure all season long. Additionally, the Defense held Joe Mixon to a mere 17 yards rushing on 11 carries.
- Kwon Alexander is exactly what the Niners were looking for. He is a high energy, high motor heat seeker who is around the ball always. He is smart and fast and can also cover on passing downs. He had a brilliant INT for the only Niner take-away of the day.
- Akhello Witherspoon looks like the real deal after suffering through inconsistency last year.
- Jimmy G turned in a very solid performance throwing for 313 yards on 17-25 passes and 3 TD’s for an excellent passer rating of 131.2. He did throw 1 INT into triple coverage, something that he really needs to correct. The season is still young and if he has more success, he’ll learn to eliminate these mistakes.
- While RB’s Jerrick McKinnon and Tevin Coleman are out with injuries, the Niner running game didn’t miss a beat as Matt Breida ran for 121 yards on 12 carries while Raheem Mostert ran for 83 yards on 13 carries and Jeff Wilson was brought off the practice team to run for 34 yards on 10 carries and scoring 2 TD’s. All of these guys run fast, hard, and shifty. They fit the Shanahan offense perfectly.
- The O-Line had a super game as they did not allow Garoppolo to be sacked while opening holes for the RB’s to the tune of 259 rushing yards.
- Joe Staley suffered a broken fibula in his left leg. He’ll be out of action for 6-8 weeks. Justin Skule, a 6th round draft pick this year will assume Staley’s critical role at Left Tackle. Only time will tell how well Staley can teach Skule all the tricks of the trade and how well Skule can perform.
- Deebo Samuel as a rookie is taking over the starting job from Dante Pettis. He is strong and has no fear running routes over the middle. Pettis played 35 snaps but didn’t have a catch while Samuel had 5 receptions for 87 yards and a TD.
While this team is off to a great start, the Niners have a very tough schedule ahead of them. If they have a successful winning season, it’ll be due to their stout Defense which I believe has arrived as a Top 10 defense. The Offense is also much improved but they will run into some very good defenses which they will struggle with, especially with Staley out for a large portion of the season. What does this team remind me of? The 1981 team when the Niners started 3 Defensive rookies (Ronnie Lott, Carlton Williamson, and Eric Wright) to go along with Dwight Hicks in his 2nd year. Dwight Hicks and his Hot Licks along with a new guy named Joe Montana took the Niners to the Super Bowl that year which started the Dynasty. Well, one can only dream….