Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports


Position grades, analysis from 49ers dominant win vs. Bengals in Week 2

Sep 15, 2019 at 3:39 PM


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The San Francisco 49ers won a lopsided victory in Week 2, defeating the Cincinnati Bengals on the road 41-17. With both sides of the ball playing well, position grades should be fairly fun this week.


One-sided San Francisco 49ers wins sure feel good, don't they?

This, after the Niners obliterated the Cincinnati Bengals 41-17 in Week 2 at Paul Brown Stadium, which saw nearly every Bengals fan file out of the park in the third quarter when head coach Kyle Shanahan's squad already secured the team's second win of the season.

Shanahan's offense engineered an astounding 572 yards of total offense. And while the Bengals allowed more yards than any other team in the NFL last season, putting up nearly 600 yards of offense is impressive regardless of the context. Following a pedestrian offensive effort in Week 1 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it's good to see the 49ers offense clicking.

San Francisco's defense set the tone early, sacking Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton on the first snap from scrimmage. While there were some coverage gaffes and missed assignments here and there, the Niners defense managed to have a second consecutive solid outing.

Doing so on the road is also pretty impressive.

Not surprisingly, the 49ers' positional grades from Week 2 are going to be impressive, too. That's what happens in such a lopsided victory.

Quarterback: A-


Jimmy Garoppolo was far more effective in Cincinnati than in Tampa, going 17-of-25 for 297 yards with three touchdowns against one interception. Granted, that pick prevents Garoppolo from getting a perfect Week 2 grade. But he more than made up for it with some good reads and the occasional improvised scramble.

And it sure looked as if Shanahan was dialing up plays to help Garoppolo out throughout the game.

"He makes my job very easy," Garoppolo said of Shanahan after the game.

Sure seemed that way, Jimmy.

Running Back: A+


The one number you need to know is this: San Francisco rushed for 259 yards on Sunday, averaging 6.2 yards per carry. Running back Matt Breida was the primary option, racking up 121 yards on 12 carries for an average of over 10 yards per attempt.

No. 2 runner Raheem Mostert added 83 yards of his own on the ground, while netting a receiving touchdown through the air, too.

But the main beneficiary in the red zone was Jeff Wilson, who was called up from the practice squad earlier this week. He had two touchdowns, including this impressive one where strength was a necessity:


In all seriousness, it's impossible to get much better than what the 49ers did on the ground this game.

Wide Receiver: B


The 49ers still lack an established No. 1 wide receiver, but they may have found one in the rookie, Deebo Samuel.

Samuel had something of a coming-out party, picking up his first NFL touchdown on a 2-yard pass from Garoppolo. Samuel also added 87 yards on five catches, while Marquise Goodwin had a long 38-yard touchdown in the first quarter to get San Francisco's scoring started.

Dante Pettis was held off the pass-catching stat sheet. But that didn't stop him from being the key part of a trick play, where he hurled a sideline pass to Mostert for a nice gain.

Tight End: B


George Kittle isn't going to replicate his record-setting 2018 campaign, largely due to the numerous other weapons the 49ers now have on offense. And that's not exactly a problem, as Kittle was instrumental in a number of big rushing plays, using his exceptional blocking skills to San Francisco's benefit.

Kittle adding 54 receiving yards and picking up a handful of crucial first downs is pretty good, too.

Offensive Line: A


The Bengals defensive line interior is pretty good, particularly with defensive linemen Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap, yet San Francisco's offensive line opened up plenty of lanes for its ground game to flourish, while also keeping Garoppolo awfully safe within the pocket.

Garoppolo wasn't sacked in Week 2, and he took just two quarterback hits.

Yet the Niners suffered a big loss, unfortunately, losing left tackle Joe Staley to a broken fibula late in the third quarter. Staley is expected to miss six to eight weeks, according to Shanahan, which means San Francisco's up-front depth will be tested early this season. For now, rookie tackle Justin Skule is the favorite to see starting time in Staley's place.

Defensive Line: A


If the Bengals defensive line couldn't stop the 49ers running game, the Niners defensive line sure stopped Cincinnati's ground attempts. The Bengals managed a mere 25 yards on the ground despite having running back Joe Mixon (ankle) available for the game. And Cincy averaged just 1.3 yards per rush attempt.

This, of course, forced Dalton to throw a lot -- not a bad strategy, especially with the speedy wide receiver, John Ross III, in the mix.

Yet Dalton had to deal with a fair share of pressure throughout the game. Defensive tackle Arik Armstead recorded that first sack, while fellow linemen DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas and Ronald Blair added sacks of their own.

Sunday's contest might be viewed as Blair's best effort at the pro level.

Rookie EDGE Nick Bosa didn't record a sack. But he was in on a number of pressures on Dalton. Once Bosa gets going, the 49ers pass rush should be awfully scary.

Linebacker: A


The 49ers have to feel pretty justified after signing Kwon Alexander to a lucrative free-agent contract last offseason.

Alexander was a presence on the field, tying with fellow linebacker Fred Warner with seven tackles in the game. But Alexander also added an interception, while breaking up three passes as well:


Yes, linebackers are important. Sunday showed why.

Secondary: B+


Cornerbacks Ahkello Witherspoon and Richard Sherman did a good job keeping Ross off the stat sheet. While Ross finished the game with 112 yards and a touchdown, 66 of those yards came on his garbage-time score late in the fourth quarter when the 49ers started rotating in most of their backups.

Witherspoon nearly recorded another interception, following his game-sealing pick six last week in Tampa. While he foolishly kicked the dropped ball and picked up a penalty as a result, it's safe to say Witherspoon's 2019 efforts are night-and-day different from what he went through last season.

There were some notable mistakes from San Francisco's nickel corner, K'Waun Williams, though, who missed assignments and generally struggled throughout the game.

Thankfully, the rest of the Niners defensive backfield made up for Williams' performance.

Special Teams: B+


It might become something of a regular occurrence, seeing punter Mitch Wishnowsky pin opponents' returners deep within their own territory. He did that again in Week 2, which indicated another area in which the 49ers dominated the action against Cincinnati: special teams.

The only major gaffe, which proved not to be major at all, was a miss from almost-always-automatic kicker Robbie Gould, who missed from 39 yards out in the fourth quarter.

Gould hit on his two other tries, though.

Coaching: A


This was an offensive clinic put on by Shanahan and Co. Aside from putting up an astounding amount of yards through the air and on the ground, Shanahan's offense also managed to go 5-of-9 on third downs, while converting three of their five red-zone trips into touchdowns. Considering San Francisco scored touchdowns just over 41 percent of the time in this crucial area last year, it's good to see Shanahan finding pay dirt early in 2018.

Meanwhile, defensive coordinator Robert Saleh seems to have shown notable improvement, too. It helps to have upgraded players performing at a high level, but keep in mind how well the Niners performed against the run. Subtract Ross' long touchdown, and the 49ers would have allowed just 245 pass yards on the game.

San Francisco still needs to clean up penalties, as it was flagged nine times for 75 yards. But the Bengals answered with plenty of mistakes of their own, too, which aided the 49ers' one-sided victory.

Now, the Niners have to regroup and prepare for their home opener in Week 3, as they'll face off against the 0-2 Pittsburgh Steelers at Levi's Stadium.
  • 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.
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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  • Rick Paul
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    Sep 20, 2019 at 11:15 PM
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