Image Credit: Andrew Giesemann
For the first time since 1989, the San Francisco 49ers are 2-0 after consecutive road wins to open the season. After spending the week in Youngstown, Ohio, the 49ers completely dominated the Cincinnati Bengals from the moment the game started until the final whistle. The 24-point victory was the second largest winning margin of the Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch era. Where does everyone’s stock sit before the home opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers?
Stock Up: Kyle Shanahan’s Offensive Wizardry
While the Bengals defense was busy trying to figure out what color checkers they were supposed to use, Kyle Shanahan was playing 8-dimensional chess with an impeccable offensive game-plan. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was routinely set up with easy throws including the easiest touchdown pass of his career to an absolutely wide-open Marquise Goodwin. Running backs Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. also enjoyed massive amounts of success on the ground as they combined for 238 yards rushing and Wilson pounded home a pair of short touchdown runs. So much for me saying the run game’s stock was down last week.
Stock Down: Joe Staley’s Bone Density
One of the few blemishes during Sunday’s game came in the form of stalwart left tackle Joe Staley going down with a broken fibula in the third quarter. Outside of Garoppolo, Staley is probably the player the 49ers could least afford to lose from this offense. One of the best all-around offensive tackles in the league is now slated to miss 6-8 weeks while he recovers leaving the 49ers with plenty of questions about how to replace him.
Stock Up: Deebo Samuel, WR1?
Rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel is proving why Shanahan was so enamored with him following the Senior Bowl this offseason. He finished Sunday with fivecatches for 87yards and his first career touchdown while also adding a pair of rushes for 7 yards. Shanahan appears to want to get the ball in Samuel’s hands however possible and let him make plays. With fellow WR Dante Pettis falling off a cliff, Garoppolo needs another wide receiver to step up and Samuel is vying to be that guy.
Stock Down: Robbie Gould Is No Longer Automatic
After missing only one field goal the entirety of the 2018 season, kicker Robbie Gould has missed two field goals in two weeks. He shanked a 39-yard attempt after banging home 33- and 38-yard attempts earlier in the game. The silver lining to this is he missed when the 49ers were already ahead by 31 points. Gould needs to clean this up for when the games are more competitive.
Stock Up: Kwon Alexander is Very Good When Not Ejected
Easily the loudest player on the field, linebacker Kwon Alexander was also one of the best for the 49ers on Sunday. Alexander has already established himself as the heartbeat of the defense with vicious hits followed by celebrations easily heard on the game broadcasts. He is leading the way for a defense that is playing with a legitimate swagger for the first time since the five-game winning streak to close out the 2017 season. Alexander logged the team’s fourth interception on the year, doubling last year’s total in just two weeks.
Stock Up: Defensive Linemen in a Contract Year
Defensive linemen Arik Armstead and Ronald Blair III are both in the final years of their contracts with the 49ers and both are playing like they want big money in the free agency market after this season is over. Armstead set the tone for the entire game when he was able to bring Bengals QB Andy Dalton down for a sack on the first play of the game. He also added plenty of pressure, flushing Dalton out of the pocket multiple times. Blair later added a sack of his own but was even more effective in run defense with three tackles for a loss, helping the defense hold the Bengals to only 25 yards rushing the whole game. The 49ers are not likely to hold onto both of these players before they hit free agency, especially if they continue to play like they have so far.
Stock Up: Keeping Jimmy Clean
Through two games this season, the 49ers offensive line has only surrendered one sack. Sunday was the most impressive performance this group has put together in a very long time. Garoppolo regularly had all the time he needed to dissect the defense in the passing game without having to worry about pressure in his face. This is the same Bengals team that gave Russell Wilson and the Seahawks fits in the Week 1 and having this much success against them is a huge confidence boost moving forward.
Stock Down: The “Nick Mullens should start over Garoppolo” Crowd
Plenty of people were clamoring for backup QB Nick Mullens after Garoppolo had a shaky start to the season in Tampa Bay. However, after watching the Buccaneers’ defense give Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton fits on Thursday night and Garoppolo’s dismantling of the Bengals defense Sunday, that contingent of the fan base has been awfully quiet. With a shaky Steelers secondary set to hit the Bay Area, those folks may have to grumble to themselves for a few more weeks.
You can follow Matt on Twitter here!
Stay tuned to 49ersHub for more great 49ers coverage and analysis!