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15 observations from the 49ers win over Miami

Marc Adams
Dec 5, 2022 at 7:41 AM--

Let's start with the bad news: San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will miss the rest of the season with a fractured foot. Huge blow.

The day started with a report from NFL insider Ian Rapoport saying the 49ers and Garoppolo were both open to having the quarterback return to the team in 2023. Now you have to wonder if Garoppolo has taken his final snap in red and gold. I feel terrible for Garoppolo, and I feel terrible for the 49ers. This season is likely to end up as another missed opportunity. As well as Brock Purdy played on Sunday, it's hard to imagine a barely-drafted rookie QB leading a team to a Super Bowl. But you never know.

Last season, Garoppolo's thumb and shoulder injuries ultimately ended the 49ers' season. This season, it could be Garoppolo's foot injury that does it. The defense is championship caliber, and there are plenty of weapons on offense. But if the 49ers don't get close to the Super Bowl, it will likely be because of the play at quarterback.

The irony, of course, is that the QB who replaced the QB with the broken ankle now has a broken foot himself. And since the 49ers don't want to be one play away from having Jacob Eason (who?) leading the offense, they signed Josh Johnson off of the Broncos practice squad. Johnson played for the 49ers when Jim Harbaugh was the head coach and was also with the 49ers and Kyle Shanahan just a couple of years ago.

Don't expect Johnson to play ahead of Purdy. He will simply be a safety net (to make sure that Eason guy doesn't have to play), as well as a veteran presence in the QB room.

Here's what was on my mind during the game:

  • The 49ers' defense gave up a 75-yard touchdown to Trent Sherfield to start off the game. After that, they settled in and were really good, but the Dolphins had open receivers for much of the game. That concerns me. Fortunately, the pass rush took over the game, but this secondary, especially the safeties, makes me nervous.
  • The 49ers' offense is still struggling in the red zone. Field goals don't win games in the postseason. That needs to improve.
  • One reason the offense continues to stall in the red zone is the play of the offensive line. Namely Mike McGlinchey. He's terrible. I write that every week. But not to be mean. I write that every week because he's bad every week. I'll be glad when I don't have to see McGlinchey starting for the 49ers anymore.
  • More Jordan Mason, please. He had 6.38 yards per carry on Sunday. On the season, he's averaging 5.4 yards per carry. Feed him.
  • Seeing Garoppolo carted to the locker room was like watching the 49ers' season flash before my eyes.

  • Nick Bosa keeps harassing quarterbacks. He had three sacks in this game. He has 14.5 on the season. Bosa is eight sacks away from tying the NFL single-season sack record (Michael Strahan and T.J. Watt). The 49ers' single-season record is 19.5 (Aldon Smith). Bosa needs only five sacks to tie that record.

  • Sometimes I feel like Kyle Shanahan calls plays too conservatively, but considering the hand he was dealt after Garoppolo went down, this was a great game for the coach.
  • This offense isn't the same without Garoppolo. That said, Purdy was better than I thought he would be.
  • The touchdown drive by Purdy and the 49ers to take the lead before halftime was huge. And that 3rd and 10 completion (to Kittle) on that drive was big-time.
  • It was great having Arik Armstead back. His presence makes a difference. Bosa is better when Armstead is in there.
  • Where has the run game gone? The strength of the 49ers' offense has not been as dominant. Yes, the 49ers rushed for 121 yards, but 49 of those came on two runs. I do have to say, though, that when they needed to run the ball late in the game, they were able to do it. But they struggled to run for much of the game, which is partly why Purdy threw the ball 37 times.
  • Dre Greenlaw makes big plays in big moments.
  • Christian McCaffrey. Weapon. He had 146 total yards.

  • It's nice having a kicker you can trust.
  • This defense. Wow.

The season-ending injury to Garoppolo means the defense will, once again, have to carry the team. How far can they go with a rookie quarterback?

We will soon find out.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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