The San Francisco 49ers improved to 9-1 following their 36-26 come-from-behind win over the visiting Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

And while the Niners relied on a number of various elements to stage their Week 11 comeback, perhaps no other group was under more scrutiny during and after the game than their wide receivers.

This group has been under pressure to deliver all season long, and the many disappointments ultimately highlighted why San Francisco traded for veteran wideout Emmanuel Sanders just before the 2019 deadline. But Sanders wasn't available for most of the Niners' loss against the Seahawks, which led to head coach Kyle Shanahan's other pass catchers trying to shoulder the load.

The official accounts vary, as far as the number of drops in Week 10. But there were plenty throughout the prime-time matchup, and the 49ers lost well over 100 yards receiving by the way of dropped passes.

San Francisco wasn't totally perfect in this regard against Arizona. But the receivers were notably improved.

"We still had some drops," Shanahan told reporters after the game. "What I liked was that the guys didn't go into a shell over it."

Sanders, despite not playing at 100 percent with a ribs injury suffered a week ago, contributed with three catches for 33 yards. Third-year wide receiver Kendrick Bourne recorded a touchdown in consecutive weeks, too, adding four catches for 31 yards.

Yet it was rookie wideout Deebo Samuel who made the biggest impact through the air, even if he didn't find the end zone. Now named a starter, Samuel finished with an impressive 134 receiving yards on eight carries, even outperforming his then-personal best 112-yard effort against the Seahawks a week ago.

"I know Deebo missed that one [catch] early and came back and had one of the best games," Shanahan continued.

This catch, coming on a play when Samuel suffered a minor shoulder injury, was pretty remarkable, too:


"He's one of the guys you love to have in your foxhole," quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said of Samuel after the game. And Garoppolo was equally complimentary to some of his other pass catchers, too, namely tight end Ross Dwelley, who recorded two touchdown grabs in the game.

Second-year wide receiver Richie James also had a big impact on his lone grab, netting 57 yards in an over-the-middle route. It wouldn't be surprising to see more of James in coming weeks, too, considering his explosive playmaking ability.

"Our guys, they stepped it up," Shanahan continued. "I know they had a challenging week last week, and I think they were one of the reasons we won today."
  • Peter Panacy
  • Written by:
    Peter Panacy has been writing about the 49ers since 2011 for outlets like Bleacher Report, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, and is occasionally heard as a guest on San Francisco's 95.7 FM The Game and the Niners' flagship station, KNBR 680. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to his Twitter account.