© Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The 49ers won a road game on a blisteringly hot, swampy day in Tampa, Florida. But how they got to that win revealed much about where the team is currently at in its development, and what the rest of the 2019 campaign may look like. Here’s who performed well and who didn’t, along with snap counts:
Snap counts (snaps, percentage of total snaps)
Mike McGlinchey T 68 snaps, 100% – Special teams, 6 snaps, 24%
Weston Richburg C 68 snaps, 100% – Special teams, 6 snaps, 24%
Jimmy Garoppolo QB 68 snaps, 100%
Laken Tomlinson G 67 snaps, 99% – Special teams, 6 snaps, 24%
Joe Staley T 66 snaps, 97% – Special teams, 6 snaps, 24%
Mike Person G 66 snaps, 97% – 6 snaps, 24%
George Kittle TE 62 snaps, 91%
Deebo Samuel WR 60 snaps, 88%
Marquise Goodwin WR 50 snaps, 74%
Kyle Juszczyk FB 32 snaps, 47%, Special teams 2 snaps, 8%
Matt Breida RB 30 snaps, 44% – Special teams 5 snaps, 20%
Richie James WR 26 snaps, 38% – Special teams, 7 snaps, 28%
Raheem Mostert RB 20 snaps, 29% – Special teams, 12 snaps, 48%
Tevin Coleman RB 18 snaps, 26%
Kendrick Bourne WR 17 snaps, 25% – Special teams, 9 snaps, 36%
Ross Dwelley TE 12 snaps, 18% – Special teams, 14 snaps, 56%
Levine Toilolo TE 11 snaps, 16% – Special teams, 11 snaps, 44%
Ben Garland G 3 snaps, 4%
Justin Skule T 2 snaps, 3%
Dante Pettis WR 2 snaps 3%
Jaquiski Tartt SS 70 snaps, 100% – Special teams, 11 snaps, 44%
Tarvarius Moore FS 70 snaps, 100% – Special teams, 9 snaps, 36%
Ahkello Witherspoon CB 70 snaps, 100% – Special teams, 7 snaps, 28%
Fred Warner LB 70 snaps, 100% – Special teams, 1 snap, 4%
Richard Sherman CB 70 snaps, 100%
Dre Greenlaw LB 56 snaps, 80% – Special teams, 13 snaps 52%
DeForest Buckner DT 53 snaps, 76% – Special teams, 11 snaps, 44%
Arik Armstead DE 47 snaps, 67% – Special teams, 11 snaps, 44%
Dee Ford LB/DE 41 snaps, 59% – Special teams, 1 snap, 4%
Nick Bosa DE 39 snaps, 56% – Special teams, 1 snap, 4%
D.J. Jones DT 37 snaps, 53% – Special teams, 10 snaps, 40%
Ronald Blair DE 29 snaps, 41%
K’Waun Williams CB 24 snaps, 34% – Special teams, 1 snap, 4%
Emmanuel Moseley CB 22 snaps, 31% – Special teams, 19 snaps, 76%
Kwon Alexander LB 21 snaps, 30% – Special teams, 1 snap, 4%
Sheldon Day DT 17 snaps, 24%
Mark Nzeocha LB 16 snaps, 23% 18 snaps, 72%
Solomon Thomas DE 12 snaps, 17% – Special teams, 4 snaps, 16%
Jullian Taylor DT 6 snaps, 9%
Special teams only
Azeez Al-Shaair LB 16 snaps, 64%
Mitch Wishnowsky P 15 snaps, 60%
Antone Exum SS 14 snaps, 56%
D.J. Reed CB/FS 8 snaps. 32%
C Holba LS 8 snaps, 32%
Robbie Gould K 6 snaps, 24%
- The biggest takeaway from snap counts is the fact that Dante Pettis took just two all game. Head coach Kyle Shanahan said on Monday that was a mistake of his own doing:
“Dante had a setback with his groin injury where he missed some time in practice, so that gave him a little bit of a setback leading into Week 1 which made it easier for Deebo to start over him, but we went in knowing Deebo was going to get more playing time, but I definitely didn’t plan on Dante getting only two reps. He should have been in more than that and that starts with me and I’ll make sure not to let that happen again.”
- In his stead, Richie James Jr. took punts (where he looked comfortable all preseason). Speaking of special teams, general manager John Lynch spoke of bringing four tight ends on the roster as a way to ease the burden for George Kittle. That was proven in Week 1 with the fact that Kittle took zero special teams snaps, while Ross Dwelley and Levine Toilolo took 14 and 11 special teams snaps, respectively.
- Also of note is that Jaquiski Tartt, Tarvarius Moore, Ahkello Witherspoon, Richard Sherman and Fred Warner played 100 percent of the 49ers’ defensive snaps. Warner was especially crucial after Kwon Alexander’s ejection, and those snap counts left nothing for Azeez Al-Shaair, D.J. Reed or Antone Exum, who all took snaps solely on special teams.
- Meanwhile, the defensive front switched a lot, but maybe less than expected. Solomon Thomas had a career-low 12 snaps, only above Jullian Taylor on that line.
- The only other real spot of note is at running back, where Tevin Coleman picked up a high ankle sprain. Expect to see Raheem Mostert see an uptick in his nine carries. Don’t be surprised to see that from Matt Breida, either.
Sorry, but Garoppolo was not good. He was just barely good enough. He went 18-for-27 with 166 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT and a bevy of uninspiring throws. The worst decision, of course, was his pick-six interception that might as well have been handed off to Vernon Hargreaves. Here’s what his targets looked like from a visual perspective.
One completion deeper than 10 yards, the touchdown to James. Only three throws deeper than 15 yards. pic.twitter.com/MF8ZoVG13j
— Dieter Kurtenbach (@dieter) September 9, 2019
Eight of his 27 completions were behind the line of scrimmage, either as dump passes or screens. Another four of those completions were less than five yards in front of the line. Five completions were from the five-to-10-yard range and just one – the touchdown to Richie James Jr. – was beyond 10 yards. This is not to say that Garoppolo needs to be chucking the ball deep every down, but Kyle Shanahan’s offense is largely centered around the ability to execute big plays and he needs to prove he’s far more capable at throwing the ball downfield than he was on Sunday.
His best play, as Kyle Shanahan said, was a 20-yard scramble deep in his own half that was called back due to a Mike McGlinchey hold. Looking back at the tape, Garoppolo’s had a host of throws that were poor, although he was also robbed of a pair of touchdown passes to George Kittle. Below is a list of Garoppolo’s notably poor throws, in the order they happened (first number denotes the offensive drive number in which it happened):
- (2) Ball thrown behind Marquise Goodwin on shallow crossing route, great catch by Goodwin for seven-yard gain, would have been more if the throw was better
- (3) Pick-six interception: Richie James Jr. was open on the middle, Goodwin was starting his break in on a deep post route, didn’t look off any of the defensive backs
- (4) Pressured, threw the ball behind Goodwin, who was open; bailed out by a pass interference call, but the throw was poor regardless
- (4) Ball wildly overthrown to Kendrick Bourne, potential interception opportunity
- (6) Bad incompletion on a play-action rollout to his left; had some trouble throwing on those plays in the preseason
- (6) One of his most egregious misses of the game, had a wide open George Kittle for a first down and threw it too high and away
- (7) After four-straight solid run plays, the play-action was set up perfectly, but Garoppolo threw the ball behind an open Marquise Goodwin on a deep pass with touchdown potential
- (9) Incompletion to a wide open Kendrick Bourne over the middle
Below is a list of Garoppolo’s impressive throws, or plays that didn’t count in his favor:
- (1) Touchdown to Kittle, called off for a questionable offensive pass interference call on Kyle Juszczyk
- (3) Great, key completion to Deebo Samuel for a first down pinned deep in own half
- (4) Good throw to Dante Pettis crossing over the middle for a seven-yard gain
- (4) Touchdown to Kittle, called off for a hold by an illegal formation call on Mike McGlinchey
- (6) Sold the play-action perfectly, hit Richie James in stride for the touchdown
Running backs: B-
Tevin Coleman only played a half (although it was a solid half) and Matt Breida had a pair of great runs but otherwise struggled while Raheem Mostert did a fantastic job in his nine rushes. Coleman was the most notable threat in the pass game with two receptions for 33 yards. The best rushing drive was clearly the sixth in which Breida had two big rushes followed by another two from Mostert. It set up a big pass play to Goodwin that Garoppolo failed to complete.
As a group, they were at least effective enough to bounce the ball outside a few times and make the play-action pass a legitimate threat and accomplish Kyle Shanahan’s goal of rushing 30 times. With Coleman out next week and Jeff Wilson Jr. likely in, it will be interesting to see what happens in the pass game.
Wide receivers: C-
Deebo Samuel led all receivers with three receptions for 17 yards. No other receiver had more than one reception (although Richie James had the 39-yard touchdown). No one did anything to help Kyle Shanahan decide they’re a reliable starter, as he said Monday. Both Goodwin and Bourne had plays in which they could have made tough catches (bad throws from Garoppolo), but didn’t. Not a terrible day, but nothing spectacular on Sunday.
Tight ends: A-
George Kittle remains very, very, very good. As mentioned, Ross Dwelley and Levine Toilolo were used on special teams to give Kittle a break from that duty, and they also did much more of the dirty work blocking that Kittle loves to do, but which he’ll surely be asked to do less of this season. It paid dividends as Kittle was, predictably, the most dangerous player on the field. He had two touchdowns stolen from him due to no error of his own and still finished with eight receptions for 54 yards, lining up all across the field.
Offensive line: B-
Mike McGlinchey had two penalties, both of which saw big plays called back (Garoppolo’s 20-yard rush and a Kittle TD), but was otherwise fantastic, as was Joe Staley. Mike Person was also impressive while Laken Tomlinson and Weston Richburg looked the weakest links. On one screen pass, Richburg undercut Tomlinson and left McGlinchey as the only blocker available to block for Mostert.
They didn’t start off great in the run game, but improved significantly to set up four-straight big runs and a deep pass incompletion. They allowed two sacks on Garoppolo, only one of which counted, but for the most part, protected him extraordinarily well.
Defensive line: A
Man, this defensive line is a threat. DeForest Buckner was often double-teamed (so was Solomon Thomas), but came up with one tackle for a loss and one QB hit, while Arik Armstead, Dee Ford and Nick Bosa wreaked absolute havok on the Buccaneers’ offensive line in the pass game. They struggled at times in the run game, but much of that was a product of Kwon Alexander getting ejected from the game.
Armstead had five tackles, one sack and a tackle for a loss while Bosa had three tackles, one sack, three QB hits and a tackle for a loss. Ford had one sack-fumble and a tackle. Their effort came together on the game-icing play, when all three got free to rush Winston, who lobbed the ball up for Ahkello Witherspoon, who returned the ball for a pick-six.
This grade is a result of Kwon Alexander’s ejection and the success the Buccaneers had in the second half running the ball. Ronald Jones ran for 75 yards on just 13 carries and Peyton Barber had 33 yards on eight carries. Much of what the Buccaneers did was singling out Warner in blocking schemes and challenging the rest of the 49ers’ linebackers in rookie Dre Greenlaw and veteran special-teamer Mark Nzeocha (who had an interception and a pass block).
On the Buccaneers’ seventh drive, Jones racked up 29 yards on four-straight carries. On the team’s eighth drive, he had 30 yards on four-straight carries before DeForest Buckner stuffed him for a two-yard loss on his fifth-straight attempt. But Warner’s effort for the game outweighed those deficiencies, for the most part. He was arguably the best defensive player on the field and led the team with nine tackles, one PBU and two forced fumbles (credited with one, but knocked the ball out a second time), one which was recovered for the team’s first turnover by Ronald Blair.
Defensive backs: A
This would be an A-plus if not for Richard Sherman’s triplet of penalties (two holding calls, one pass interference) which were probably a result of his dehydration. He, Ahkello Witherspoon, Tarvarius Moore and Jaquiski Tartt were absolutely excellent. Witherspoon had an All-Pro corner type game and followed Sherman’s pick-six with one of his own to ice the game. Moore would have had a chance at one of his own when he crucially broke up a Jameis Winston pass on fourth down in the red zone.
Tartt was able to rush off the edge dangerously on multiple occasions, but wasn’t exploited too often. Moore was No. 2 on the team with eight tackles (behind only Warner) with that PBU and Tartt and Sherman both secured five tackles (Sherman also had a pair of PBUs in addition to the pick-six). Witherspoon had two tackles, including one which stopped a run at the line of scrimmage and a team-leading three PBUs.
Special teams: B+
There’s not much to criticize here. Robbie Gould did his job, Mitch Wishnowsky did his job (and was helped out with a big hit from Emmanuel Moseley on a punt) and Nzeocha blocked a punt. There were no big returns from the Buccaneers and solid execution and consistency from the 49ers.