The 49ers hang on for their 1st win in a way we didn’t think was possible

Niners run the Lions out of Santa Clara 30-27 in home opener

Tommy Call
September 16, 2018 - 6:42 pm

It’s a rite of passage to handout game balls after a gritty win— a standard. So, in honor of the 49ers first victory of the 2018 season, let’s have our own mock game ball ceremony.

First, for the offense: the game ball goes to Lions running back, Theo Riddick for his back-to-back drops in the final seconds of the 49ers 30-27 win.

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Now for the second game ball, we can’t forget the defense, and that honor goes to Quandre Diggs for his crucial defensive holding mistake that negated Tracy Walkers’ interception of Jimmy Garoppolo in the fourth quarter. Congrats to our winners for their atrocious  efforts.

Now in all seriousness, the 49ers tried their best to mimic their Oakland Raiders on Sunday afternoon and blow a late lead in a game that quite honestly shouldn’t have been close.

It’s easy to poke holes in what happened late in Sunday’s game vs. the Lions, but the 49ers did what’s most important which is win, and they did it in a ugly contest in which both Garoppolo and Kyle Shanahan weren't on their A-game.

Not to mention they stalled Matthew Stafford who has a knack for late-game comebacks, but fortunately for the 49ers Riddick stepped in and dropped two passes that would’ve extended the game in Detroit’s favor.

Even with the 49ers surviving the Lions late comeback, they were able to win this game in a way most thought would be hard to come by after a disappointing loss in Week 1 where there was virtually no run game — against Detroit that changed.

In a game that many expected to be a shootout battle between two high-powered offenses, instead the 49ers carved out a lead with the run game, something that was nonexistent vs. the Vikings. The 49ers rushed for 190 yards on against Detroit, 100 yards more than they rushed for in the season opener.

Matt Breida had a banner day, running for a career high 138 yards on just 11 caries. Breida looked to have a game-icing 66-yard run that gave the 49ers a 27-13 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Bredia slashed the Lions with a 12.5 yards per carry while Alfred Morris paced Breida with 14 carries of his own for 48 yards.

The run attack helped open the passing game with play action passes that resulted in big gains for the 49ers. Last season we saw the 49ers and Shanahan use the play action pass regularly, and for their first win of 2018 it was needed. Two of the 49ers biggest plays through the air came on play action passes.

One to Dante Pettis:

And one to Pierre Garcon:

Garoppolo had a decent day, but his best passes came when the play action was flowing. The run game and play action also took pressure off the offensive line that was patchworked together because of injuries.

As great as the run game was where did it go in the fourth quarter?

There were only eight rushes in the fourth while eight pass plays were called with almost every pass resulting in some type of negative for the 49ers that that Lions couldn’t capitalize on. Out of those eight pass calls, one resulted in an almost game changing interception and two ended with Garoppolo sacks.

As much as we praise Shanahan for his dynamic offensive scheme heading into Week 3 in Arrowhead Stadium against the high-powered Chiefs he needs to have a better game plan when it comes to closing games out.

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