SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
3 Takeaways From The 49ers Week 10 Win Over The Chargers
Congratulations 49ers fans, your team is now above .500 on the season.
It wasn’t pretty but the Red & Gold got it done in primetime, defeating the Los Angeles Chargers, 22-16, to improve to 5-4. And with a Seattle Seahawks’ loss Sunday, the 49ers are a win away from retaking a hold of the NFC West heading into the stretch run.
But before we get ahead of ourselves and look to Week 11, let’s look back at a few takeaways from Week 10’s wacky contest.
Elijah Mitchell is back and better than ever
In his first game back from injury, Elijah Mitchell looked like the fresher runner Sunday night, finishing with 18 carries for 89 yards on the ground. That’s good enough for 4.9 yards per carry, a whole two yards more than his running mate Christian McCaffrey. Mitchell also added one catch for a negative yard.
Dealing with an MCL sprain since Week 1, the second-year tailback has felt ready to go since the Bye Week, proving to the fans that he is still a premier RB in this league. His play in the fourth quarter helped the 49ers build momentum, taking runs for seven and nine yards, respectively. The former was arguably his best moment of the night, taking a zone run to the left before cutting back on a Chargers linebacker to put the 49ers ahead in the chains on second down.
Five plays later, CMC got in the endzone from two yards out, giving the 49ers the lead.
Elijah Mitchell is even shiftier than I remember him. He's been very wiggly tonight in a good way
— David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself) November 14, 2022
Many speculated what Mitchell’s role would be after the team traded for McCaffrey, but so far it’s been pretty even on touches (Mitchell had 19 to CMC’s 18). The latter did out-snap the former, however, playing 64% of the plays Sunday.
We’ll see how the distribution shakes out in the coming weeks and months, regardless, the tandem feels like one of the best duos in the league in just a short amount of time.
“We can be the best duo of backs in the league, in my opinion,” Mitchell said about his partnership with McCaffrey postgame.
“We have a very unselfish team. Everybody [fans] is about individual stats with fantasy owners out there. But we have a team, man. Guys don’t care if we get 10 targets or one target. A ‘W’ is a ‘W.’ ” quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo added.
Dre Greenlaw’s Disqualification was Unnecessary
Less than 24 hours after the play happened, 49ers linebacker Dre Greenlaw should not have been ejected Sunday night.
ICYMI, the first half of Week 10’s clash with the Chargers came to a tumultuous end, when the linebacker delivered a helmet-to-helmet tackle on QB Justin Herbert. Running out of time in the half, the Chargers were faced with a third and long situation approaching field goal range. The quarterback miraculously escaped the pocket and took off for the first down, lunging forward before getting cracked by Greenlaw.
Flags flew out of official’s pockets immediately, indicating an unnecessary roughness call on the 49ers. The league office felt otherwise, enhancing the call to not only a 15-yard penalty but also a “disqualification” from the game for Greenlaw.
The decision was questionable at best, with Chargers media baffled at the situation as well. Upon further review, it looked as though safety Jimmie Ward pushed Herbert into Greenlaw’s oncoming tackle, forcing the collision to be less than optimal.
The Chargers gunslinger missed the rest of the half to treat the potential injury, while the 49ers lost their second-best linebacker for the night.
“The timing, the manner in which the player had an opportunity to make other choices and to make a different decision. Those all go into factoring whether something is flagrant. Those are just some of the factors that are considered,” NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating Walt Anderson explained to the pool reporters after the game.
I call shenanigans and so did the rest of the NFL media.
Greenlaw should NOT HAVE BEEN EJECTED for this hit. Led with the shoulder and Herbert was hit into him. pic.twitter.com/hjgv1I0u4H
— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) November 14, 2022
A personal foul, yes. An ejection? No.
The 49ers themselves felt the same way, with head coach Kyle Shanahan’s “mind blown” by the decision to eject his player. As for the players, including Ward himself, were baffled by the decision and spoke out of QBs running in his postgame comments.
#49ers Jimmie Ward has no sympathy for QBs 👀
— OurSF49ers (@OurSf49ers) November 14, 2022
“I don’t have any sympathy for a quarterback on the other team. Don’t run it… We don’t like quarterbacks who run the ball,” Ward exclaimed.
We’ll have to wait and see if the league hands out any further punishment for the “flagrant” hit.
Another Second Half Shutout for the Defense
The only positive from Greenlaw’s ejection was that the 49ers’ defense decided to wake up in the second half, producing their second consecutive shutout performance after halftime Sunday.
Defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans’ unit was lights out against Hebert, holding him to under 200 yards passing for the first time this season. He finished with only one touchdown pass, and one interception to seal the win for San Francisco late. Week 10 was also Herbert’s lowest passer rating of the year at 73.0.
Holding the Chargers’ offense to 52 yards and zero points in the second half is a feat in itself, a testament to Ryans’s unit when healthy.
#49ers' second half defensive dominance:
— Held Chargers to 52 yards of offense, their fewest in any half since Week 8 2007.
— Justin Herbert was 7-14 for 35 yards, his fewest pass yards in a half in his career.
— Nick Wagoner (@nwagoner) November 14, 2022
“We just kept it simple,” defensive captain Fred Warner stated. “We literally just ran one call, I feel like, the entire second half. When we got to third down, we would dial it up with some pressures, but first and second down we literally just ran the same thing over and over. Just kept it real simple. First half, DeMeco [Ryans] wanted to try to mix in some blitzes, some pressures, but honestly it was just perfect for us to just match everything up and play ball in the second half.”
The 49ers finished the night with 21 pressures as a unit, making life in the pocket extremity difficult for Herbert.
Star pass rusher Nick Bosa was one of the catalysts for that, ending the night with nine pressures, one sack, three quarterback hits, five hurries and four run stops, per Pro Football Focus. Bosa now leads the league in QB hits with a whopping 24 through eight games played in 2o22.
Warner also did his thing, finishing with seven combined tackles and three pass breakups against the Chargers. He ended the night as the highest-graded defensive player for the 49ers.
Reserve defensive end Jordan Willis also had a big impact, making his season debut Sunday after sitting out the start off the season after a knee operation. The 27-year-old registered four combined tackles, two pressures and one vital sack on backup QB Chase Daniel to close the first half of play.