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.