What a terrible week for the San Francisco 49ers.
Linebacker and 2017 first-round pick Reuben Foster gets arrested for another domestic violence incident and gets cut. The team follows that by stinking it up on Sunday and losing to the Buccaneers 27-9. The 49ers defense made Jameis Winston look like Aaron Rodgers, as the QB finished with 312 passing yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. This was also Winston’s only game this year without throwing an interception. As bad as the game was, Kyle Shanahan made the right decision by playing his younger players to see what they could contribute to the future.
Rookie wideout Dante Pettis finally had a good game with Pierre Garçon and Marquise Goodwin out. He was targeted seven times and finished with four receptions for 77 receiving yards and a touchdown. His touchdown was a thing of beauty.
The play began with a motion across the formation from Matt Breida that caused the linebackers to shift. This left a hole in the defense where Pettis eventually made his catch. Once the ball was snapped, Pettis used his footwork to beat Carlton Davis (#33) at the line of scrimmage and made safety Jordan Whitehead (#31) miss on his way to a 13-yard touchdown.
Young running back Jeff Wilson made his debut this weekend, came away with some valuable experience, and made some impressive plays. His longest run of the night, which went for 18 yards, displayed his power and toughness
Hopefully this game is a sign for things to come for Wilson. Although it’s going to be hard for him to make the 49ers’ roster with Jerick McKinnon and Raheem Mostert returning, he can use strong performances to make his case for a roster spot whether it’s for another team or the 49ers.
The Buccaneers’ running backs had an average game. Peyton Barber finished with 47 yards and a rushing touchdown on 18 carries. Jacquizz Rodgers added 31 yards on five carries and had the second longest run of the night at 20 yards.
The 49ers rushing attack has continued to thrive despite their losing record because of Breida’s explosiveness. He finished with 106 yards on 14 carries. The 49er running back has thrived in the absence of McKinnon; This was Breida’s third game with more than 100 yards rushing, second in a row, and he’s done it each time with 17 carries or less! Once again, Breida is going to be the Star Running Back of the Week.
Breida began the game by setting the tone on the 49ers’ first play from scrimmage. He took advantage of the Bucs’ defense with a sweet cutback and ripped a 33 yard run, his longest of the day. It always amazes me to see how the young running back went undrafted. Week in and week out, he is seen making quick decisions that lead to huge gains. As soon as he saw open field on the left hand side, he took off.
I’ve been talking all season about how Breida’s lateral movement and vision has given Shanahan the confidence to dial up run plays in situations where the defense is expecting the pass. During one of the drives in the second quarter, the 49ers head coach called Breida’s number on 3rd-and-8 from the Bucs’ 48-yard line. Breida finds the smallest opening and explodes through for an 11-yard gain and the first down.
On the very next play, Breida took the handoff to the right for a 21-yard gain. On more than one occasion, he kept this drive going and gave Pettis the opportunity to come away with the 49ers’ only touchdown on the day.
He impresses virtually every time he touches the ball. Breida's toughness is unmatched; he’s been playing with a bad ankle and other injuries this season, but still manages to maintain his average yards per carry at a ridiculous 5.8 and has 10 rushes of 20 or more yards (currently tied for 1st with Saquon Barkley).
Along with George Kittle, Breida has been a bright spot on the 49ers’ offense this season. He has vastly improved his skills in the passing game, so Shanahan has been creating ways to give the ball to his skilled running back. On the play below, offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey (#69) let his defender go through the line to allow the screen play to develop. Breida goes out on a swing route and catches the ball with McGlinchey as a lead blocker. McGlinchey whiffed on his block, but Breida’s speed got him past the defender before he could make a play. Breida was tackled after a 24-yard gain.
This has been a long season, but it’s going to be exciting to see what Shanahan can get out of the young players on the squad. So far he’s been able to get solid production on offense out of undrafted players and has made a star out of fifth-round pick George Kittle.
The 49ers travel to Seattle this week to face off against the red hot Seahawks. The rest of the 49ers schedule is going to be tough, but it’ll give the young squad a chance to go up against the best talent in the NFL.
Fourth and Nine Star Running Backs:
Week 1: Dalvin Cook
Week 2: Matt Breida
Week 3: Matt Breida
Week 4: Melvin Gordon
Week 5: Kyle Juszczyk
Week 6: Raheem Mostert (posted on Twitter @ErickGee_21)
Week 7: Todd Gurley
Week 8: David Johnson
Week 9: Raheem Mostert
Week 10: Matt Breida
Week 11: BYE
Week 12: Matt Breida
Sources: USA Today Sports Images, NFL Gamebook, Rotoworld, Pro Football Reference, Youtube