It was an ugly season opener for Shanahan and Garoppolo, but winning ugly is what good teams do

Making bad quarterbacks look bad and winning ugly is what good teams do and the 49ers checked both of those boxes today

Tommy Call
September 08, 2019 - 5:58 pm

For the first time as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, Kyle Shanahan won a season opener. The game was filled with penalties and sloppiness, but for the 49ers to get a win in this situation is an important box for Shanahan and Jimmy Garoppolo to check. 

Good teams win ugly and winning in that fashion hasn’t been something the 49ers have been able to do under Shanahan until today in Tampa Bay. No matter how ugly it was, the bottom line is the 49ers start their season 1-0 win a road victory. 

Shanahan was happy with the way the 49ers were able to pull off a gritty win despite their ugly play, “We didn’t play our best ball today, but we played hard.” 

Not one 49ers offensive player played a great game. There was no special play or player when the 49ers offense was on the field. Garoppolo's first touchdown pass went to the wrong team. Dante Pettis disappeared. Tevin Coleman left the game injured. All of George Kittle’s best catches were erased by penalties. Deebo Samuel put the ball on the ground. But it all didn’t matter because each time the 49ers offense faltered the defense picked them up. 

The 49ers defense forced four turnovers. Four turnovers in one game for a Robert Saleh led defense almost seems unheard of. Two of the turnovers went back the other way for touchdowns and each came at a crucial time in the game. 

Richard Sherman’s pick-six helped sway the momentum in the 49ers favor while Ahkello Witherspoon’s pick-six iced the game. The fact that I’m typing out the 49ers have two pick-sixes alone is a massive win for the 49ers and Saleh. 

The defensive unit did everything for the 49ers in Tampa Bay. The new defensive line wreaked havoc upon Jameis Winston. Dee Ford, Arik Armstead and Nick Bosa all recorded sacks against the Buccaneers. The pressure created by the defensive line resulted in several mistakes from Jameis Winston. 

Although Winston had a putrid day, good defenses make bad quarterbacks look even worse and that’s what the 49ers we’re able to do against the former number one overall pick. 

“Every time I looked up they were making plays,” Shanahan said about the defensive line.

Even more importantly the 49ers offense and Garoppolo responded to their nightmarish start in Tampa Bay. After a bad first half from Jimmy Garoppolo and Shanahan, the offense responded for the first time of the day to open the second half. 

Garoppolo led the 49ers down the field setting up his first touchdown pass of the season that gave the 49ers the lead. The playcalling was more fluid and Garoppolo looked more confident manning the offense. 

It would've been nice to see the 49ers offense close out the game and not give the Buccaneers a final chance, but the 49ers were able to lean on their defense when it mattered. 

It’s not a signature win, but winning ugly is a step in the right direction for the 49ers and Shanahan. 

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