49ers vs. Bengals: Week 14 position grades from nail-biting OT win

George Kittle #85 and Brandon Aiyuk #11 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
George Kittle #85 and Brandon Aiyuk #11 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) and tight end George Kittle (85) Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports /

42. 23. 56. Final/OT. 26

The 49ers took advantage of Bengals mistakes early in Week 14, then saw things collapse in the fourth quarter before pulling off an overtime victory.

In an ideal world, the San Francisco 49ers wouldn’t have to let an opponent get back into a game after building a 20-6 third-quarter lead and force overtime, then watch that lead go away when the Cincinnati Bengals kicked a go-ahead field goal in the extra frame, leading to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo having to engineer a near-perfect go-ahead touchdown-scoring drive to finally pull off the 26-23 overtime win.

Not easy at all. Especially after Cincy had a run of 14 unanswered points after halftime.

Still, the Niners won. And more importantly, they made fewer mistakes than Cincinnati and took more advantage of the ones the Bengals did make, which proved to be vital despite Week 14 truly being a tale of two entirely different halves.

Things probably would have been a lot different if San Francisco was still without wide receiver Deebo Samuel, who helped the 49ers get out to their early lead with a 27-yard rushing touchdown that made it 10-3.

But it wasn’t just Samuel who had to step up big during the game, especially late. In fact, wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk’s game-winning touchdown in overtime might be one of the biggest clutch plays the Niners have enjoyed this season.

Great for Aiyuk, and that lone effort spared San Francisco from having to endure yet another lengthy list of disappointing positional grades after a game it could have won but lost.

Instead, the 49ers pulled off a win in a game they easily could have lost. We’ll take that.