Image Credit: Andrew Giesemann
Unfortunately, the 49ers stuck to script on Monday night versus the New York Giants: they were able to move the ball, still committed a few costly turnovers, and eventually had the predictable fourth quarter defensive collapse that we all saw coming. But sifting through the aftermath of the loss, there were a few bright spots and players that stood out on the primetime stage.
Breida has quickly established himself as a legitimate option for the 49ers at the halfback position. Breida has fought through numerous nagging injuries this season and was limited at practice this week, but still saw his highest snap count of the season on Monday night at 44. The increased time on the field paid immediate dividends as he totaled 101 yards on the ground with one touchdown while adding three receptions for 75 yards and another score, becoming the first 49er since Bruce Ellington in 2014 to accomplish the feat. The knock on Breida coming into the season was that he wasn’t capable of being the type of receiving back that would thrive in Shanahan’s offense, but he has shown significant improvement in that department through the first 10 games of the season. He’s been targeted 18 times resulting in 15 receptions for 124 yards and two touchdowns, already bettering his season totals from 2017. Breida has a respectable score of 74.2 from Pro Football Focus, ranking him as the 18th best halfback in the NFL, even more impressive though is his 80.9 score as a receiver out of the backfield, ranking his as the seventh best halfback in the NFL. With the bye week on the horizon it’s coming at the perfect time for Breida to get some rest before taking on Tampa Bay and their 13th ranked rush defense.
After a historic debut against the Raiders, many expected Mullens to take a step back Monday night. While he did, he still displayed an excellent understanding of the offense and the abilities that flashed last week. Mullens threw his first two career interceptions. The first was definitely his fault; he simply doesn’t possess the arm strength to make the deep out throws that are sometimes required. But his second interception falls on Marquis Goodwin, who ran a weird start-stop-stutter-step pattern in the middle of the field as Mullens delivered the ball behind him, going through Goodwin’s hands and into the defenders. Mullens still played well though, completing 69 percent of his passes for 250 yards and a score. He was still decisive with the ball and made the quick reads that C.J. Beathard continually missed. Mullens has played well enough the last two weeks to be the starter for the remainder of the season.
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