This is the all-around excellence that can reprise the 49ers’ playoff legitimacy.
What worked in Sunday’s 30-10 win against the hapless Jacksonville Jaguars — and what worked Monday night in upsetting the Los Angeles Rams 31-10 — is what the 49ers must continue to replicate.
The NFC is still wide open, or so it looks for a 49ers team that’s leveled its record to 5-5 after last month’s four-game losing streak.
Next Sunday, the 49ers can win three straight regular-season games for the first time since October 2019. Coming into Levi’s Stadium will be the Minnesota Vikings, a fellow NFC challenger. After hosting the Green Bay Packers, the Vikings will make their first visit to Santa Clara since losing 27-10 in the 2019 season’s divisional playoffs.
The 49ers have won three of their past four, and, contrary to franchise bylaws, this renaissance isn’t all about a red-hot quarterback, all due respect to Jimmy Garoppolo posting a passer rating over 100 yards for a fourth straight game.
Nor was Sunday’s rout about the still-dilapidated state of the Jaguars (2-8).
The 49ers’ running game is being kept busy, to the tune of over 30 carries again Sunday and with Deebo Samuel rushing for a team-high 79 yards.
The passing game is seeing its stars play like stars, such as Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle catching touchdown passes — and catching all 11 passes overall that came their way. Aiyuk had seven catches for 85 yards, Kittle had four for 34. Samuel had just a 15-yard catch so he remains 6 yards shy of the 49ers’ first 1,000-yard season by a receiver since 2014.
Things were going so swell offensively that the 49ers could afford a third-and-goal incompletion toward offensive tackle Trent Williams, then convert a fourth-down touchdown pass to Kittle for a 24-point lead midway through the third quarter. A distant afterthought at that point was Garoppolo missing a wide-open Jeff Wilson Jr. in the end zone on Sunday’s 20-play opening drive, which ended with a pesky field goal.
Defensively, the 49ers opened with a three-and-out, then saw the Jaguars’ next series quickly end with Josh Norman forcing a fumble that Fred Warner recovered. A tone-setting takeaway? Yep, just like Jimmie Ward’s interceptions on the Rams’ opening two possessions Monday night.
Nick Bosa even drew a couple holding penalties on feeble offensive tackles, and his two sacks gave him a career-high 10 this season.
Special teams? Yep, the 49ers did damage to the Jaguars there, with Trent Sherfield recovering a muffed punt in the fourth quarter to set up Robbie Gould’s second field goal of the day.
Garoppolo. Samuel. Kittle. Aiyuk. Bosa. Warner. Those were this game’s headliners, just as the 49ers need them, week in and now seven weeks out from the playoffs.
With three minutes to go, Garoppolo yielded to rookie Trey Lance, with the 49ers safely ahead by 20 points. Garoppolo finished 16-of-22 with 176 yards, two touchdowns, a 126.3 rating and no turnovers for the third time in four games.
This is, by no means, a flawless team.
Safety Jaquiski Tartt’s return to the lineup came with a familiar problem in the secondary: a pass-interference penalty, which the Jaguars parlayed into James Robinson’s 1-yard touchdown run on the next snap with 3:04 to go.
The 49ers also would have loved to Jeff Wilson Jr.’s first start of the season produce more than 50 rushing yards (19 carries).
But the 49ers went across the country on a short week and did not take for granted an inferior opponent.
polo exits 16-of-22, 176 yards, 2 TD, 126.3 rating and a 30-10 lead in #49ers upcoming 3rd win in four games