Below are the Studs and Duds of the game as the 49ers rallied from a 16-point deficit to sweep the Arizona Cardinals, 36-26.

Studs


The Replacements


In their most crucial moments, it was the replacements who stepped up for the 49ers. They may have played in limited snaps, but you saw across the board how players made the best of their opportunities. It's likely they'll see their numbers called more often in the ensuing weeks.

The 49ers were down 0-16 with about nine minutes left in the second quarter. Up to that point, the offense had only generated 10 yards of total offense. On the first play of the drive, the 49ers dial up a screen pass to receiver Richie James Jr. to the left for a 57-yard gain and suddenly, the momentum shifted back in their favor. They eventually scored their first touchdown in just 1:10 of play.

James Jr. had been used primarily on special teams but was limited in the offense up to this point; he stepped up to the moment while Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis took back seats. Conversely, it was undrafted rookie tight end Ross Dwelley who stepped up to the occasion with two red-zone touchdowns after replacing tight end George Kittle--prior to this game, Dwelley had zero career touchdowns.

Fast forward to the game-winning score as the 49ers called on running back Jeff Wilson Jr. for the 25-yard catch-and-run touchdown. That play was the only snap Wilson played in the game and was his first career receiving touchdown; he only had one reception for two yards this season prior to this.


On the ensuing drive, it was 49ers defensive end Damontre Moore who came up with the play that sealed the game. Moore—who was signed just signed five days prior to replace Ronald Blair III—forced a fumble off Cardinals receiver KeeSean Johnson that was subsequently recovered by Jaquiski Tartt.

Jimmy Garoppolo


For the record, I acknowledge that 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw two boneheaded interceptions in the red zone. I have read the "Good Jimmy" and "Bad Jimmy" takes this season and while this was far from a perfect game, Garoppolo stepped up to the moment despite his shortcomings earlier. Down three points with 2:09 left in the fourth quarter, it was going to be a crucial learning moment for Garoppolo and this offense, regardless of the outcome.

Not only did Garoppolo march the offense down the field, but he also relied on a variety of receiving options with injuries to Kittle and Emmanuel Sanders. The go-ahead touchdown to Wilson Jr. puts Garoppolo throwing touchdowns to 11 different players this season.

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan had to put the game in Garoppolo's hands and despite his mistakes, the numbers were historic.

In the second half, Garoppolo was 26-of-30 for 305 passing yards, with three touchdowns and the two interceptions; he ended the day with 424 passing yards and four passing touchdowns. Garoppolo now joins Joe Montana and Steve Young as the only 49ers quarterbacks to throw for 400 yards and four touchdowns in a game. The last time a 49ers quarterback had accomplished such a feat? Steve Young in 1993.


Deebo Samuel


The second-round pick out of South Carolina has been everything the 49ers front office hoped for with immediate returns during his rookie season. In back-to-back games, Deebo Samuel has averaged more than six receptions and 110 receiving yards as a rookie. He now joins the likes of Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans, and Julio Jones as the only receivers to have accomplished this in their rookie seasons.


Samuel ended the day with eight receptions for 134 receiving yards despite leaving to the locker room late game with a shoulder injury. He returned to the field and contributed two additional catches on the game-winning drive. Entering the second half of the schedule, Samuel is now coming into his own.

Duds


Run Game


The 49ers have struggled to run the football against their NFC West opponents in the last three games. Despite the Cardinals ranking near the bottom in run defense, the 49ers' rushing attack was non-existent the entire game. The 49ers rushed 19 times for 34 yards for a 1.8 yard per carry average. Tevin Coleman led the team with 12 carries for 14 rushing yards.

Opposing teams are making a special effort to sell the run against the 49ers' second-ranked rushing attack in the NFL.


Richard Sherman


Entering Sunday, 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman had just three defensive penalties to his name. Sherman picked up with three passing interference calls against him in this game alone; the first penalty was for 41 yards, which resulted in the Cardinals getting spotted for first-and-goal at the 49ers' three yard-line.

It was rare to see Sherman struggle in pass defense, notably against Cardinals receiver Christian Kirk. Nonetheless, Sherman had a couple of thoughts about the passing interference calls…


Defending Mobile Quarterbacks


Whether it's Seahawks' Russell Wilson, Cardinals' Kyler Murray—or perhaps Ravens' Lamar Jackson and Packers' Aaron Rodgers down the road—the 49ers' defense hasn't looked quite the same against mobile quarterbacks.

While Murray was only 23-of-33 for 150 passing yards, he also ran eight times for 67 rushing yards which included a 22-yard touchdown run off an RPO play in the fourth quarter.


With 49ers linebacker Kwon Alexander out for the season, it will be interesting to see how opposing teams—notably, teams with mobile quarterbacks—challenge the 49ers' front seven defense moving forward.
  • Justin Wong
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    Justin Wong has been writing for the 49ers Webzone since 2017 while also running an NFC West blog and podcast called Just The West. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to @JustTheWest on Twitter.