Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images
Jimmy Garoppolo played in a football game. It did not go well. The rest of the 49ers also played a football game, a 24-15 win over the Denver Broncos, but the story was always going to be about Garoppolo’s first time in action since tearing his ACL on September 23.
Garoppolo’s dud a team effort
That’s not how anyone envisioned that going. Jimmy Garoppolo’s three-possession return to NFL action was a Bradley Chubb and Shelby Harris-induced nightmare. Joe Staley was woeful, Garoppolo looked skittish, and nothing worked.
The result was Garoppolo coming out for one more possession than was hoped for, and a 1-for-6, 1 INT (0-yard) day that should have probably been a 2 INT day. Garoppolo threw the ball off his back foot consistently and failed to step up when necessary as miscommunications and poor offensive line play made the first team look like the third team.
After Harris swatted Garoppolo’s first pass play, his second was intercepted by Isaac Yadom on a throw intended for Marquise Goodwin (he ran a comeback and was waiting for at least a second before the pass came his way, making the route easy to jump). Staley was beaten easily by Chubb, and had a lengthy discussion with Garoppolo on the sideline in what looked like a miscommunication.
When Garoppolo came out a second time, his first pass was again swatted at the line by Harris, and after a run play, he stared down Jordan Matthews and was nearly picked off again with more pressure from Chubb. After an incompletion to Kaden Smith to lead off his final drive (preceded by a holding call on Najee Toran) thanks to unprotected pressure from Chris Harris Jr., he completed his only pass of the day, a no gain completion to Matt Breida.
But hey, the run game was great
No, not the starters. The success of the run game was spurred on by Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr., Austin Walter and… Deebo Samuel. Samuel was not targeted a single time in the passing game, but his one touch on the ball was a typically explosive jet sweep. It was sealed off on the back side by perfect blocks, and once Samuel’s acceleration carried him around the edge with two pursuers, he was off, coming just a yard shy of a 46-yard touchdown run. Instead, he settled for a 45-yard run that set up a 1-yard Wilson TD run.
Raheem Mostert was also fantastic on Monday night, leading all rushers with 6 carries for 58 yards and a beautiful 30-yard touchdown carry on the play below, which, much like the Deebo Samuel jet sweep, featured fantastic run blocking.
Wilson had 9 carries for 33 yards and Walter had a triplet of runs for 15 yards (with a 20-plus-yard carry brought back on a holding call). Tevin Coleman also had 3 carries for 21 yards.
— NFL (@NFL) August 20, 2019
The backup quarterbacks
C.J. Beathard: Was 5-for-11 for 81 yards along with a sack. Didn’t do anything of note, had one bad overthrow.
Nick Mullens: Led a touchdown drive, going 2-for-3 for 27 yards with 1 TD on a perfect back shoulder fade to Kendrick Bourne.
Wilton Speight: Had a truly embarrassing fumble which came backwards out of his hand on a pass attempt.
- Jeremiah Valoaga was a menace, leading the team with 7 tackles, along with one for a loss, a half sack (shared with Kentavius Street) and one QB hit
- Jaquiski Tartt was tremendous as well, with 5 tackles (four solo, two for a loss) and one PBU. He was ever present on the first Broncos drive of the game
- Kentavius Street looked extraordinarily quick as he has in recent days, coming up with 4 tackles, 1.5 sacks and a pair of QB hits
- Azeez Al-Shaair was fantastic yet again, with 5 tackles (four solo) and one PBU
- Kendrick Bourne was nearly on the list below, dropping a would-be massive gain on a deep ball from C.J. Beathard. But he recovered to make two catches; the first, short route that he turned into a 26-yard gain with yards after catch, and the second, a fantastic toe-tap catch on a back shoulder fade from Nick Mullens
- Dontae Johnson is not a name you’d expect to see on this list after a pretty rough camp, but he was immense in the second half, coming up with 4 solo tackles, 2 PBUs and an interception that he scooped excellently after a deflection.
- D.J. Reed had a rough start, allowing a would-be massive catch (the Damontre Moore-forced hold bailed him out), two back-to-back first down catches and a very questionable pass interference call, he came back with a near sack, great coverage on an incompletion, and a near interception. He was second on the team with 6 tackles (5 solo) and had a QB hit.
The not great
- Jimmy Garoppolo had a howler, as mentioned above
- Joe Staley was a big part of that poor Garoppolo performance and was beaten badly by Chubb
- Najee Toran, the de facto backup guard, committed two holding penalties and had a fumble on a bad exchange when slotted at center with Nick Mullens
- Justin Skule did not have a good day, getting beaten badly for a sack and committing two holding penalties
- Wilton Speight’s only real moment of note was his fumble
- Adrian Colbert suffered a hamstring injury in the first half and did not return
- Damontre Moore suffered a thumb injury in the first half and did not return (he forced a holding call in the first half which bailed out Tim Harris Jr.)
- Tim Harris Jr. suffered a groin injury at the start of the third quarter and did not return
- Shawn Poindexter left with a knee injury in the second half
- Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles was injured on the Broncos’ second touchdown play