4 critical items learned from 49ers Week 14 overtime win vs. Bengals

Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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Darius Phillips, River Cracraft, Cincinnati Bengals, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver River Cracraft (13) recovers a fumble from Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Darius Phillips (23) Mandatory Credit: Imagn Images /

56. Final/OT. 26. 42. 23

The 49ers coughed up a 20-6 lead to the Bengals in Week 14 and had to pull off an overtime win, revealing these four key takeaways.

If San Francisco 49ers fans want to enjoy the highs and lows of emotion for just one particular game, Week 14’s road bout against the Cincinnati Bengals surely provided as much a variety as possible.

The Niners watched a 20-6 third-quarter lead evaporate, as Cincy retook all the momentum and forced overtime late, even taking a 23-20 overtime lead that led to San Francisco having to engineer a perfect drive from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo that culminated in a game-winning touchdown by wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.

With the 26-23 overtime win at Paul Brown Stadium, the 49ers now improve to 7-6 and can feel good enough their second-half collapse didn’t result in the team’s second losing streak of the season.

Still, it would have been much more preferable if the Niners were able to retain momentum generated in the first half.

If there is a positive from that, though, San Francisco wasn’t on the wrong side of the turnover differential, so momentum only means so much.

Takeaway No. 1 right there.

No. 4: 49ers still don’t have talent to overcome turnovers

Yes, the 49ers didn’t turn the ball over in Week 14, while Cincinnati coughed up two turnovers on punt-return muffs the Niners were able to recover.

But the net result reveals the same kind of theme San Francisco has experienced for much of the season: When it finishes with a net positive in turnover differential, it wins. And if the 49ers lose the turnover differential, they tend to lose games, too.

Week 14 proved to be a case study in why staying in the positive in turnover differential (plus-2 in this game) is vital for any postseason push the Niners make this season. Given the razor-thin margin for victory against another playoff-hopeful squad, and all other things being equal, San Francisco couldn’t have afforded to turn the ball over despite having some scary moments of its own, including a Garoppolo near-pick and two fumbles, one by Jimmy G and another by wide receiver Jauan Jennings, the 49ers were nevertheless able to recover.

The Niners have now improved to minus-2 in the turnover-differential department, a massive change from the minus-9 they were at early this season.

San Francisco has to continue that trend.