The SF 49ers may have taken the Cardinals too lightly on Sunday, and it’s time to look at the Week 1 winners and losers.
The SF 49ers delivered quite the let-down performance Sunday against the divisional opponents, Arizona Cardinals. They unfortunately lost the game after a failed game-winning drive by franchise quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and Co., resulting in a final score of 24-20 in favor of Arizona.
In what was an overall lackluster performance by a heavily favored Niners team, there are definitely a few players who stick out when going back to evaluate individual performances, whether this may be for good or bad reasons.
Let’s dive right in and outline the winners and losers from the Niners week 1 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
The SF 49ers Winners
Running back Raheem Mostert was one of the team’s only bright spots in what was an otherwise pedestrian performance from the San Francisco offense. He posted a pretty nice over stat line in both the rushing and passing game, leading the Niners in receiving with four catches for 95 yards and a touchdown. He also led the 49ers in carries with 15, which resulted in 56 yards.
His 3.7 yards per carry may not seem great, but he was definitely one of the team’s only real offensive weapons on Sunday.
Look for him to replicate this level of offensive production going forward for the 49ers.
Did you know it’s been over 900 days since running back Jerick McKinnon has played in an NFL game? Well, it didn’t seem like that on Sunday as McKinnon was efficient in his partially limited playtime on Sunday, posting a respectable receiving line of three catches for 20 yards and a touchdown. He also contributed in the rushing game with three rushes for 20 yards as well.
His target share may have been a result of the receiving core being slightly diminished Sunday with the absence of wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, but he was great nonetheless. Hopefully, McKinnon will continue this level of play in his first official season for the SF 49ers.
He was definitely a winner in the eyes of the fans and Niners brass.
Newly acquired superstar left tackle Trent Williams looked like he hasn’t lost a step in his return to the NFL for San Francisco, and that alone is a win. He looked absolutely massive out there on Sunday and was able to dominate the opposing defensive players to the best of his abilities.
He even produced an all-time highlight with his pancake block on an opposing Cardinals linebacker. Williams will no doubt look even better as he becomes more comfortable in the 49ers offense as the season progresses.
He was a winner in my book on Sunday.
The SF 49ers Losers
Now hear me out: I’m not saying superstar cornerback Richard Sherman has lost a step, but it’s evident age may be slightly catching up to him at this point in his career when going up against superstar wide receivers like DeAndre Hopkins.
By no means do I think this will be a recurring trend, as players of Sherman’s caliber rarely let themselves fall off a cliff easily, but he has to be much better than he was on Sunday after being partially responsible for Hopkins posting a monster stat line of 14 catches for 151 yards.
My guess is Sherman is just a little rusty and will bounce back with a vengeance. While he may be a “loser” in my eyes this week, he will probably make me look like a bit of a jerk for disrespecting him here and turn it back on in the weeks to come.
It pains me to say this, but when the Niners needed Garoppolo to show just how clutch he can be, he kind of fell flat on his face. I give him a slight pass due to the fact his receiving corps was essentially gutted, with Kendrick Bourne, Dante Pettis and Trent Taylor being his top options. But his miscues to both Taylor and Bourne at the end of the game were unforgivable.
I’m sure Samuel would have made both those plays, but a great quarterback elevates his players, and Jimmy G didn’t do that in the fourth quarter on Sunday.
I expect Jimmy G to bounce back in a big way in the weeks to come against the New York Jets, New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles and show everyone why he was a top-10 quarterback last year in the SF 49ers’ Super Bowl run. This was by no means the norm for Garoppolo, so while he may be a “loser” this week, he will probably prove me wrong in the weeks to come.
Still, when a team loses, the quarterback has to eat a chunk of the blame.
I’m not sure why Pettis keeps playing with my emotions, but he has once again shown he is a bust.
After his abysmal 2019 season that I have covered before, where I blamed him solely for his lack of production in the 49ers offense, I started to come back around on him after the countless offseason notes citing how productive he’s been in practice.
In classic Pettis form, with a large portion of the Niners wide receivers out of commission for the game, he somehow managed to post a glorious stat line of zero catches for zero yards! That was enough for me to mark him as the game’s biggest loser for the 49ers, as there’s no excuse for being unable to post even a single catch with that many players missing.
Hopefully, he bounces back to prove me wrong, but at this point, I just don’t see it.
All in all this game was a big disappointment for SF 49ers fans, but I am almost sure this was a one-off. The team is just too good to keep losing games this way.
Look for the team to come back with a vengeance in the coming weeks and remind everyone just how dangerous they can be.
Buffalo Bills: Breaking down the snap counts from Week 3
This is a breakdown and some notes from the snap counts for the Buffalo Bills in Week 3.
The Buffalo Bills once again won, moving to 3-0, after an exciting last-second touchdown by Josh Allen that gave them a 35-32 victory over the Los Angeles Rams. While the result was the same, there were some distinct differences this week, due in part of injuries but also some coaches’ decisions to mix up the starting lineup.
This is a breakdown of the snaps on the offense and defense for the Buffalo Bills in Week 3.
Buffalo Bills offense
The first thing that stands out is that the Bills officially made a switch on the offensive line as Cody Ford moved to left guard while Brian Winters got his first start with the Bills at right guard. Aside from a few special teams snaps, Quinton Spain was regulated to the bench.
Both Winters and Ford played 100% of the snaps, along with Daryl Williams at right tackle and Mitch Morse at center. Dion Dawkins missed eight snaps this week due to a shoulder injury and Ty Nsekhe stepped in.
This was also the highest snap count for running back Devin Singletary at 89%. It certainly wasn’t a surprise considering that Zack Moss was out due to a toe injury. This was also the best game for Singletary this season with over 100 yards from scrimmage.
Another player who saw a career-high was wide receiver, Gabriel Davis. The rookie played 74% of the snaps and finished with four receptions for 81 yards. This increase is likely tied to the absence of John Brown, who suffered a calf injury, but Davis has played very well this season and should see his snaps continue to increase.
At tight end, Tyler Kroft played a season-high 71% with the absence of Dawson Knox due to injury. It is also interesting to see Lee Smith play only one snap all game, which ended up being a touchdown reception for the veteran tight end.
Buffalo Bills Defense
On the defensive side of the ball, A.J. Epenesa continues to see his snaps increase. He was active for the first time last week against the Dolphins and played 17 snaps and on Sunday played 24 snaps (35%) against the Rams. He also registered his first career sack and should continue to be more involved in the coming weeks.
The rotation at defensive tackle is interesting as Quinton Jefferson continues to lead the position in snaps. He played 64% of the defensive snaps, one week after playing 63% of the Buffalo Bills snaps. Ed Oliver has been second both weeks and against the Rams was on the field for 57% of the snaps. Moving forward, Jefferson and Oliver should be considered the starters at the position.
The good news is that Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano were exclusively the Buffalo Bills linebackers against the Los Angeles Rams. Milano played every snap while Edmunds played 68 out of 69 snaps. If there were any lingering effects from their injuries, it didn’t stop them from being on the field.
Chicago Bears Week 3 coverage report: Jaylon Johnson remains shut down
The Chicago Bears have to be very enthused with what Jaylon Johnson has brought to the table
Through three weeks, Jaylon Johnson has been a shutdown cornerback for the Chicago Bears. It started with a strong performance against Marvin Jones and was followed up by better play against Darius Slayton. Johnson was expected to line up against Julio Jones but did not get that early-season test.
Instead, most of his day was spent on Olamide Zaccheaus. Still, no matter the opponent, Johnson needed to show up, and he did. He gave up a few receptions, but overall, shut down one side of the field.
Below is our week 3 cornerback report
Matt Ryan was 4-6 when targeting Johnson. Still, that only went for 51 yards, and eight after the catch. Zaccheaus was 3-4 for 35 yards lined up on Johnson, per PFF. It was not an elite day, but the Falcons did not test Johnson, and through three weeks, he has not made any major errors.
Fuller spent most of the day on Calvin Ridley. Ridley got loose early in the game, but in a zone, Fuller had the flat, and Eddie Jackson beat deep. With that in mind, Ridley was 3-4 when lined up against Ridley. He was 4-7 when targeted in general, and that was for just 37 yards allowed. It also includes just one first down and zero yards after the catch.
Fuller was excellent in this game and was the Bears best cornerback.
Skrine was lined up against Russell Gage until an injury forced him out. Then, he saw Brandon Powell. In total, Ryan was 4-5 when seeking out Skrine, and Skrine allowed 39 yards, 11 coming after the catch.
As noted, Jackson allowed a 63-yard reception to Calvin Ridley, the biggest play of the game allowed by the defense. That was his only blemish. Roquan Smith was fantastic in this game, allowing 2 receptions on 6 targets for just 22 yards allowed. Even Danny Trevathan was better, albeit targeted just twice.
Joel Iyiegbuniwe also allowed a TD to Hayden Hurst.
Kyle Fuller: 10-22 107 yards, 8 YAC, 1 INT, 2 PBU
Jaylon Johnson: 9-18, 130 yards, 17 YAC, 4 PBU
Buster Skrine: 12-17, 117 yards, 47 YAC, 1 PBU
Tashaun Gipson– 1
Joel Iyiegbuniwe- 1
Chiefs vs. Ravens: What we learned in Week 3
What we learned about the Chiefs in their dominant win over the Ravens in Week 3.
The Kansas City Chiefs put on a 60-minute masterclass this week, squashing an AFC powerhouse, the Baltimore Ravens. This week, a lot of what we learned is more what we relearned.
After a skittish Week 2, the Chiefs put the kibosh on the touted Ravens, leaving no question as to who runs the AFC. Here are some things we learned from a superb Week 3 victory.
The Chiefs have a legit pass defense
The Chiefs’ secondary, and cornerbacks in particular, have strung together three weeks of stifling defense. This week, a returning Charvarius Ward, rookie L’Jarius Sneed, Rashad Fenton, and safety Tedric Thompson were especially impressive. The rag-tag collection of corners is playing with exceptional swagger and, more importantly, collective discipline. Shockingly, this secondary had their best performance against reigning MVP Lamar Jackson, holding him to a tepid 97 yards passing.
Beyond that, according to Next Gen Stats, Chiefs cornerbacks, when targeted as the nearest defender, allowed 10 yards passing. The cornerbacks, even when Bashaud Breeland plays, is considered one of the weaker positional units for K.C. So this lights-out play even in the absence of their top corner has been a surprise, and a best-case situation for the Chiefs.
I was especially impressed with Fenton, whose aggressive coverage stymied any explosive plays from Ravens receivers. Quietly, Thompson was formidable; he delivered a few resounding tackles in bit moments, displaying plenty of awareness and comfort within Steve Spagnuolo’s scheme. L’Jarius Sneed continued to wow, and added another excellent game to his superb rookie campaign. Unfortunately, he went down with a collarbone injury late in the game, so Chiefs fans should monitor his status moving forward.
Beyond the cornerbacks, Juan Thornhill had his best performance of this young season. He kept pace with Lamar Jackson on a few key plays, shadowing him and making Jackson uncomfortable on some scrambles. That’s really all you can ask when it comes to defending Jackson in the open field. Thornhill did a great job of covering running angles, an extremely encouraging sign given that Thornhill is coming off an ACL surgery. So far, his mobility and speed looks as good as ever.
The takeaway? The pass defense is gelling. There’s clear chemistry across the secondary. This “no-name” unit is proving to be anything but. They present a collective discipline and fierceness, a balance that is hard to achieve. So far, so good for Spagnuolo’s group.
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