Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

49ers Notebook: Shanahan happy with backup RBs in Mitchell’s absence; 49ers overcome unusual week; Saints’ impressive streak snapped

Nov 27, 2022 at 9:18 PM--

It was a strange week for the San Francisco 49ers, who had to work through an unusual schedule that saw them arrive home from their Monday night game in Mexico City in the early morning hours on Tuesday, followed by Thanksgiving on Thursday. Still, they managed to work through it and prepare themselves to play against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, and in the end they came out on top with a 13-0 win.

How did the 49ers work through that schedule? We'll look at that in this version of 49ers Notebook, along with some postgame thoughts from head coach Kyle Shanahan on the running back situation, a look at an impressive streak the 49ers snapped on Sunday, and much more. Let's get it started...

(See also: 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo says knee is "a little sore," feels hit by Saints defender was dirty | 49ers' Nick Bosa on 4th-down sack vs. Saints: "I think it was just a good jump" | Shanahan provides injury updates on Mitchell, Burford, McCaffrey, Samuel, Garoppolo after 49ers-Saints | Jennings comes up in clutch vs. Saints | 49ers defense talks shutting down Saints, Alvin Kamara)

No hangover

The 49ers' 38-10 win over the Arizona Cardinals in Mexico City last Monday night was a highlight of the team's season, but they had to put that behind them quickly to focus on this week's game against the Saints while also navigating the aforementioned schedule. But they were able to pull it off and get the win, thanks in part to the decision to take things slowly until Friday before letting loose.

"I think those would have been excuses if we didn't (win)," Shanahan said. "But I wasn't expecting that at all during the week. We had to take it a little easier on the guys this week with full-speed reps, so we didn't do anything full-speed until Friday. But man, our Friday practice was the fastest, most aggressive practice I've seen (from) us this year. So I wasn't really worried about that from our guys. I understood the situation coming in, but by the time we got to Friday, it felt like that was all over."

Linebacker Fred Warner praised Shanahan's practice schedule after the win over the Saints, while also giving credit to his teammates for focusing on the task at hand.

"I think Kyle did a great job all week handling how he went about practicing and getting us recovered, doing some walkthrough practices," Warner said. "We're fully capable of doing that and still being intentional, still going out there, getting great work in. We got a lot of professionals and leadership on this team to be able to go out there and not lollygag, just make sure we're still intent with what we're doing. I felt like every single day was great practices for us."

Cornerback Charvarius Ward told reporters the team quickly put the Mexico City game behind them and was able to avoid a potential letdown.

"We treat every game the same," Ward said. "We don't care who we're playing, who we played last week or when was the last time we played. We can be outside on the concrete, on the street, it don't matter. We're going to play to the best of our ability."

Calling upon the rookies

Running back Elijah Mitchell will likely miss some time after injuring his knee Sunday, which means the 49ers will be turning to third-round draft pick Ty Davis-Price and undrafted rookie Jordan Mason to carry some of the load with Christian McCaffrey until Mitchell returns. Mason had just five carries before Sunday but chipped in with five carries for 25 yards against the Saints, including some key runs to run out the clock on the final drive. Davis-Price has been inactive lately, having last played in Week 7 against the Chiefs. But Shanahan is confident in both backs despite their inexperience.

"I feel good," Shanahan said. "I mean, I think JP (Mason) came in there and did a really good job there at the end. They had every single person trying to stop the run. I think you guys saw how hard-nosed he is and how he ran it and was able to keep us out there on the field and not give it back and put the D out there again. And then Ty, we've been wanting to get Ty up. His loss to JP was special teams. So we'll see how Elijah goes -- most likely Elijah will be out a little bit. It'll give opportunities for those guys, and hopefully Christian will be alright too."

Davis-Price had a season high 14 carries for 33 yards against the Seahawks in Week 2 but has just 16 total carries on the season with 44 snaps on offense.

One streak lives, a bigger one dies

The 49ers came into Sunday's game against the Saints having shut out each of their past three opponents in the second half of their games, and they were able to barely keep it alive with some clutch plays when they needed them the most. But in doing so, they put an end to a rather impressive streak belonging to the Saints.

Sunday's win marked the first time in 332 games the Saints were shut out, a streak dating back to the 2001 season. It was the longest active streak in the league. The last team to shut them out before Sunday? The 49ers, who shut the Saints out 38-0 on January 6, 2002.

The NFL team that went the longest without being shut out? Also the 49ers, who had a stretch of 420 regular season games and 36 playoff games without being blanked from 1977 to 2004. That record remains safe for a while.

Learning from other star linemen

Defensive end Nick Bosa spoke briefly after Sunday's game about what he does to impact the game despite the tactics other teams use to keep him from getting to from the quarterback. He's been learning what to do while watching other players who go through the same thing.

"Just moving around, trying to still get rushes off of chips," Bosa said. "And even when they're not chipping, they're just kind of standing in the way and releasing where you want to get off the ball. Just continuing to watch tape on guys who deal with that and see how you can still affect the game."

Which players has he been paying the most attention to?

"All the top guys -- Myles Garrett, (Maxx) Crosby, (T.J.) Watt. Everybody gets it, so it's not very different," Bosa said.

Getting close

Running back Christian McCaffrey was held in check Sunday as he finished with 11 carries for 32 yards and four catches for 17 yards. But after the game, he told reporters he's been making significant progress in mastering the 49ers' offense.

"Probably almost there. I've still got to get more reps," McCaffrey said.

Along the way, McCaffrey has been impressed with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who showed resilience on Sunday after taking a number of hits from the Saints' defense. One of those hits had Garoppolo holding his leg in pain, but he got up and kept playing, much to McCaffrey's relief.

"He's a tough guy," McCaffrey said. "I'm happy he's on our team."


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