There Takeaways from the 49ers’ Week 11 Win Over the Arizona Cardinals
The San Francisco 49ers showed the nation, and Mexico, how good they could be on any given week, dominating the Arizona Cardinals, 38-10.
It was a masterclass by the Red & Gold, running their division rivals into submission by the fourth quarter. So much so that Arizona benched quarterback Colt McCoy and played Trace McSorley to close out the game.
Monday’s win also vaulted the 49ers into third place in the playoffs, and more importantly, first place in the NFC West at 6-4. They will face a lackluster New Orleans Saints team back in Santa Clara Sunday, looking to further cement their place in the NFC playoff race.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, here are a few takeaways from Week 11 in Mexico City.
Another Defensive Shutout in the Second Half
In the past three weeks, the 49ers have pitched three consecutive shutouts in the second half of games. In the same time span, the team has an astonishing 52-0 scoreboard over their opponents.
Much of the credit goes to defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, likely to receive a few head coaching offers after the season is over. In the three combined halves, SF’s opponents have registered 159 total yards amongst the starters in the second half. That’s an absurd number, especially considering they played against quarterbacks Matthew Stafford and Justin Herbert in the past three games.
Week 11 was no different, allowing All-Pro wideout DeAndre Hopkins to go off in the first half with 7 catches for 77 yards. In the second half, he had two catches for 14 yards. A stark contrast and a testament to Ryans’s adjustments at halftime. He did the same against LA Rams WR Cooper Kupp in Week 8, allowing minimal yardage to the star receiver after the break.
Personnel-wise, it was a group effort, with every single 49er pitching in to halt Arizona’s drives. Cornerback Charvarius Ward finished with a whopping 10 tackles Monday night, linebackers Dre Greenlaw and Fred Warner racked up 15 tackles and one sack and safety Jimmie ward was excellent at nickel-back, getting his first interception of the season Monday night.
The 49ers defense:
1st in total yards allowed
2nd in yards per play
1st in rushing yards allowed
1st in rushing yards per play
2nd in first downs allowed
4th in PPG allowed
4th in sacks per pass attempt.
— Jason Aponte (@JasonAponte2103) November 22, 2022
A unit at the top of the league in metrics and only getting healthier down the stretch run of the regular season.
Efficient Jimmy G
Week 11 was quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s best game in a long time.
Jimmy G was electric all night, making plays out of nothing and hitting his guys in stride with accuracy. He finished with 228 yards on 20-29 attempts, four TDs and a 131.9 passer rating. Garoppolo also did not throw an interception, the first time in his career he’s gone three consecutive games without a pick.
The Mexico City game was only the fourth time in Jimmy G’s career he’s thrown for four touchdowns in a single contest, the last coming in 2019. Getting progressively healthier each week, Garoppolo is starting to look like the gunslinger who took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2019.
“When Jimmy has been healthy for us and he has his guys out there, he plays at a very high level,” head coach Kyle Shanahan said postgame Monday.
“He’s such a talented quarterback,” running back Christian McCaffrey added. “Doesn’t get enough credit in my eyes. He’s a great leader. Super smart. He can make any throw. And he’s just a great guy to be around.”
Jimmy still made some mistakes, throwing two “hospital balls” that could have put tight end George Kittle and wide receiver Deebo Samuel in concussion protocol. All in all, it was a great day for the 49ers’ offense, spearheaded by “HIMmy Garoppolo”.
— NFL GameDay (@NFLGameDay) November 22, 2022
Kyle Shanahan was in his Play-Calling Bag Monday Night
Kyle Shanahan has been getting a lot of slack the few weeks for conservative play-calling, despite having a loaded offensive arsenal of weapons.
In Week 11, he shut out the noise, scheming together a game plan so perfect the Cardinals gave up in the fourth quarter.
After getting shutout in the first quarter, Shanahan switched to a pass-first approach in the second quarter. The result: 17 points to Arizona’s three. The recipe all year has been to set up the run with the pass, and Shanahan did that with 14 of 15 plays resulting in passes before the halftime break. Jimmy G found WR Brandon Aiyuk from seven yards out, before getting his second on a 39-yard catch-and-run by Kittle.
The first half game-plan set up the second half, with the Cardinals already struggling with the altitude change in Mexico City. San Francisco shifted their focus back to the run game, using RB Elijah Mitchell as the bell cow to churn out yards for the 49ers.
Then the creme de la creme. Shanahan called an end-around fake to Deebo Samuel that confused the entire Cardinals’ defense and let the wideback go untouched to the endzone from 39 yards out. San Francisco set up the play so well that linemen Trent Williams and Jake Brendel were downfield in a flash, the latter setting up the key block on safety Budda Baker.
Shanahan played the analytics perfectly Monday night, forcing the league’s worst YAC defense (the Cardinals) to run all over the field against the league’s best (the 49ers). A complete game that everyone, including the ESPN broadcasting booth, couldn’t stop raving about.
“If I could hire anybody I wanted, Kyle Shanahan would be that guy,” Troy Aikman said on ESPN postgame.
This was the offense everyone expected when they made the CMC trade, it took a few weeks, but the 49ers are a scary team in the NFC.