It shouldn’t be a hard concept, but the 49ers actually string together wins when their best players on the roster are playing like good players.
Good teams are typically comprised of good players, and those good teams stay good when their good players are playing good football.
Revolutionary thought right there, right?
A problem, however, is inconsistent teams like the San Francisco 49ers haven’t always had all of their best players playing at their best this season. And in some cases, those players haven’t been playing at all. When you run into those inconsistencies, a 5-5 record after 11 weeks shouldn’t be too surprising.
Yet the Niners’ recent two-game win streak, highlighted by a Week 10 home drubbing against the Los Angeles Rams and then followed up by a needed road blowout of the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 11, has highlighted how head coach Kyle Shanahan’s squad can be dominant.
How? Well, it’s when his best players are playing like best players.
49ers’ best offensive players have led to 61 points the last two weeks
San Francisco scored 31 points against Los Angeles, then another 30 against Jacksonville. It shouldn’t be a surprise quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo passed for two touchdowns in each of those games against zero interceptions, while tight end George Kittle had a touchdown grab in both games, too, while continuing his exceptional blocking prowess.
Wide receiver Deebo Samuel, in the running for the NFL’s most receiving yards this season, has also added 227 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns the last two weeks.
Again, one of the 49ers’ best players performing like one.
Fellow wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, who should be considered one of the Niners’ best players after being selected in Round 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft, has also played like a best player as of late, too, particularly in Week 11 when Samuel was limited to just a single catch for 15 yards despite his own rushing prowess. In response, though, Aiyuk contributed with seven catches on seven targets for 85 yards and a touchdown.
And none of the team’s offensive players have turned the ball over during the last two weeks.
Notice a trend?
49ers defense is carrying the offense, while the offense is carrying the defense
If the above heading confused you, all it means is San Francisco is playing complementary football as of late.
That’s a good thing.
The 49ers started out their last two games with long, long opening offensive possessions, the last of which lasted 13 minutes and five seconds, a new NFL record, which meant their defense got to rest. And resting allowed their players to play better when tasked with getting out there on the field.
The Niners’ three best defensive players are linebacker Fred Warner, EDGE Nick Bosa and safety Jimmie Ward. Not surprisingly, all three are playing their best football this season as of late.
Ward’s two-interception game from Week 10 helped set the tone against LA, while Bosa recorded three sacks and five quarterback hits over the last two weeks, too, raising his total of sacks on the season to a career-high 10. Even if San Francisco is lacking a pass rush from other defenders on the roster, Bosa is making up for it.
Why? Because he’s a good player playing like one.
Likewise, Warner is reemerging like the All-Pro caliber defender he was a year ago, breaking up a pass against the Rams and also recovering a loose-ball fumble at Jacksonville.
While all three aren’t the sole reason why the 49ers have surrendered a combined 20 points over the last two weeks, they’re pretty big causing factors. As a result, the Niners offense has been able to stick to its game plan without having to worry about the defense being a liability, which in turn, has allowed the offense to perform at a high level as of late.
San Francisco is winning games because of this, and its best players are playing like the team’s best players.
Novel concept, right?