Tagged in: 49ers

49ers improve 11-2 with road win over Saints

The Saints scored a go-ahead touchdown with 53 seconds remaining, the fourth lead change of the day, and had the 49ers on the ropes with a fourth-and-two with 39 seconds remaining.

But New Orleans missed on two two-point conversions, including one after their final touchdown, and the 49ers kicked the game-winning field goal on the final play.

Jimmy Garoppolo hit George Kittle on for a 39-yard gain on that fourth-and-two play, with C.J. Gardner-Johnson missing a tackle that would have ended the game. Marcus Williams added a facemask penalty at the end of the play. It set up San Francisco in field goal range.

Robbie Gould kicked a 30-yarder as time expired to give the 49ers a 48-46 victory in the game of the season in the NFL.

The teams combined for 94 points and 981 yards. The Saints punted once, threw an incompletion on a fake punt that they thought they should have gotten defensive holding and Alvin Kamara lost a fumble. The 49ers punted three times and Garoppolo threw an interception.

The 49ers, who lost a 20-17 heartbreaker to the Ravens on the final play last week, moved to 11-2. The Saints fell to 10-3.

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Tre’Quan Smith scored on an 18-yard pass from Drew Brees with 53 seconds left in what looked like it was going to be the game-winner, but Garoppolo and Gould had the last say.

Garoppolo finished 26-of-35 for 349 yards with four touchdowns and the interception. Brees went 29-of-40 for 349 yards and five touchdowns.

The 49ers picked up a key victory, in terms of their quest to win the NFC West and, potentially, gain home-field advantage in the playoffs.

The Seattle Seahawks entered the day with a 10-2 record but currently are listed atop the NFC West standings because of their head-to-head victory over the 49ers on Nov. 11.

The 49ers can clinch a playoff spot Sunday night with a Los Angeles Rams loss or tie against Seattle. They can take over the top spot in the NFC West — and best record in the NFC — with a Rams victory.

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49ers FB Kyle Juszczyk out 4-6 weeks with knee injury

San Francisco 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk experienced a sprained MCL in Monday’s 31-3 win over the Cleveland Browns, the team announced Tuesday.

The Niners expect Juszczyk to be out for four to six weeks.

The three-time Pro Bowler caught two passes for 20 yards against the Browns. He also contributed to Matt Breida’s 83-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. His block on Browns defensive end Olivier Vernon helped open a lane for Breida to reach the second level and speed down the sideline.

San Francisco (4-0) is the only undefeated team in the NFC.

Maintaining that mark will be difficult because injuries are beginning to pile up for the second year in a row.

Juszczyk is an unsung hero for the offense. According to Pro Football Focus’ Austin Gayle, he was the highest-graded fullback (69.3) on the site in 2018: “No fullback played more than [Juszczyk], as he out-snapped all NFL fullbacks by 264-plus offensive snaps in the regular season. His pass-blocking (73.9) and run-blocking (73.8) grades were both impressive, especially considering his snap volume. To play at the level he played at a dying position in the NFL is quite the feat.”

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Juszczyk is the only natural fullback on the 49ers roster, and the scarcity of available options at the position will make it challenging to replace him.

Rather than use another fullback to occupy Juszczyk’s role, head coach Kyle Shanahan will likely have to play an extra running back or wide receiver to compensate.

How Shanahan chooses to combat this injury will be interesting. One probability is to keep fourth-string running back Jeff Wilson active, letting him serve as a lead blocker. How much he’s done in this kind of role, however, is up in the air.

Additionally, Niners tight end Daniel Helm is an option, as he currently sits on the practice squad and saw some fullback reps during the preseason. Third-string tight end Levine Toilolo could also fill the void.

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49ers start season 4-0 for first time in 29 years

Matt Breida ran 83 yards for a touchdown on San Francisco’s first play from scrimmage, Baker Mayfield was pressured into his worst game as a pro, and the 49ers stayed undefeated for their best start in nearly 30 years, beating the Cleveland Browns 31-3 on Monday night.

Tevin Coleman added a 19-yard score as part of a dominant ground game on a day when quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo passed for 181 yards and kicker Robbie Gould missed a pair of field goal shots and had a third try blocked.

San Francisco (4-0) joined the 5-0 New England Patriots as the only remaining undefeated teams in the NFL. It’s the first time the 49ers have won their first four games since 1990.

The Browns (2-3) are headed the opposite direction after losing two of three, with fresh worries about their young quarterback. Mayfield had a awful game. The No. 1 overall pick last year, Mayfiaeld completed 8 of 22 passes for a career-low 100 yards, had a 13.4 passer rating, threw two interceptions, fumbled twice and was sacked four times before being pulled in the fourth quarter.

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It’s the first time in Mayfield’s 18 career starts that he failed to throw a touchdown pass.

Things were rough all around for Mayfield.

San Francisco defensive end Nick Bosa poked fun at the Browns quarterback after forcing Mayfield into a hurried incompletion in the second quarter. Bosa, the second overall draft pick, got up and pretended to wave a flag and plant it in the turf as the crowd roared. It was a clear shot at Mayfield, who planted an Oklahoma flag in the turf after leading the Sooners to win over Bosa and Ohio State in 2017.

The 49ers were coming off a bye and had two weeks to prepare, while the Browns flew cross country. The win allows the 49ers to retain sole possession of first place in the NFC West, ahead of Seattle (4-1) and the reigning NFC champions, the Rams (3-2). It sets up an epic early-season contest against Sean McVay’s team in Los Angeles on Sunday.

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