It took 45 games, but the post-Harbaugh 49ers have finally won two consecutive games!
It’s probably no coincidence that both winning efforts were conducted by newly acquired QB Jimmy Garoppolo, who appears to have wisely used his three and a half years backing up Tom Brady in New England. Brady’s backups don’t have the best track record when going out on their own — in fact, they have all pretty much sucked. But Garoppolo appears to be the exception.
It also helps that the team just played two straight games against a couple of teams that are stinking their way to the finish line. The next three games are all against teams heading to the playoffs — the Titans, Jaguars, and Rams — so how the team fares in these contests will give us a much better idea of how improved the Niners actually are.
After a slow start against Houston, Garoppollo caught fire in the second quarter. And unlike previous Niner QBs, he stayed hot the entire game, throwing for 334 yards on 20 out of 33 passing attempts. The team has seen those kind of numbers only a handful of times since Jeff Garcia was dismissed after the 2003 season.
The teams were tied at 16 apiece late in the third quarter, with DeAndre Hopkins doing most of the damage with 11 receptions for 149 yards and 2 TDs. Dontae Johnson was the CB getting scorched by Hopkins and as soon as 49er coaches finally benched him, the Houston offense went bye-bye the rest of the game.
For the Niners, WR Marquis Goodwin had a big game, catching 6 passes for 106 yards. In the absence of Pierre Garcon and the previous two QBs, Goodwin has emerged as the team’s top wide out.
Two straight victories are nothing much to crow about in the NFL, but for the Niners, it’s a seismic shift. They will now no longer be mentioned in the same sentence as the Cleveland Browns — the barometer of football dreadfulness. And that is one mighty baby step forward.