Biggest winners, losers from SF 49ers Week 10 loss to Saints

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Brandon Aiyuk, SF 49ers

Brandon Aiyuk #11 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

SF 49ers Winners from Week 10

DT Javon Kinlaw

Let’s start with arguably one of the brightest spots from Sunday’s loss in rookie defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw.

It was the moment we were all waiting for: Kinlaw’s first sack as a Niner. Not only did he register a sack, but even got credited with a co-sack alongside newly acquired linebacker Jordan Willis, bringing the rookie’s total on the season to 1.5 sacks.

Many fans were starting to grow impatient when it came to Kinlaw finally getting credited with a sack after the large number of quarterback pressures he had accrued to date, but he finally broke the ice Sunday. It’s common for rookie defensive tackles to take time acclimating to NFL interior offensive line protection, so it’s a win for everybody that we finally got to see Kinlaw break through and punish Jameis Winston.

Let’s hope Kinlaw continues his rookie breakout and shows fans why the Niners selected him with their 2020 first-round pick.

 

RB Raheem Mostert

Don’t worry, I know running back Raheem Mostert didn’t play Sunday, but that’s my point: He is clearly the SF 49ers’ top running back as they continue to suffer in the run game without him.

The team has had a lot of trouble moving the ball in his absence, and it was once again evident Sunday when reserve tailback Jerick McKinnon rushed 18 times for a mere 33 yards (1.8 yards per carry). McKinnon is clearly not a lead back in the NFL and serves much better as a change-of-pace option, making Mostert’s absence so much more glaring than some probably predicted.

Mostert’s clear value to this team’s offensive scheme makes him a clear winner. The team sorely misses him but his return is imminent. Look for Mostert to come back with a bang in Week 12 and show why he’s one of the team’s most important offensive weapons for the rest of 2020 and beyond.

 

SF 49ers Secondary

It’s always a plus when the opposing team’s wide receivers (one of which is Michael Thomas, ever heard of him?) combine for a total of seven catches for 56 yards. Any way you cut it, this was a good day for starting cornerbacks Jason Verrett and Emmanuel Moseley, who were able to relatively limit the receiving production for the opposing wideouts in Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders to a total of six catches for 51 between the two.

It’s no secret the SF 49ers are missing their star corner in Richard Sherman, but it can’t be ignored how much Verrett and Moseley have stepped up throughout the season. Both these players are making a case for the team to keep them beyond this year if Sherman is to walk in free agency. If the team adds another corner via free agency, or better yet, drafts one in 2021, they can be set up to be one of the more effective secondary units in the NFL.

These two players deserve to be named as winners this week.

 

WR Brandon Aiyuk (Winner of the Week)

I cannot express just how impactful wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk has been in his rookie season for San Francisco. He put up another great stat line against the Saints’ swift pass defense with seven catches for 75 yards and a touchdown in an otherwise pedestrian offensive display from the Niners on Sunday.

He has been one of the only bright spots for a team that seems to be desperate for playmakers in the absences of other key contributors on offense. He will no doubt look to continue his dominant play in the weeks to come and show everyone why he is a perfect addition to head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offensive scheme.

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