4 Takeaways From the 49ers 20-17 Loss Against the Ravens
The San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens met Sunday for what was hyped as the game of the year, and the two teams did not disappoint. Both defenses came away with key fourth down stops in the fourth quarter, but the Ravens were the team to ultimately break the 17-17 tie, with kicker Justin Tucker nailing the 49-yard game winner.
Although it ended in a 20-17 defeat, the 49ers were able to hold the league’s most dynamic offense to a season-low 20 points.
Lamar Jackson is the MVP
Despite throwing for just 105 yards and a touchdown, Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson found ways to hurt San Francisco. The 49ers struggled with the Ravens’ read options all game. Whenever San Francisco’s defensive line bit on the running back, Jackson pulled the ball back and made the 49ers pay.
Jackson rushed for 101 of the Ravens’ 178 rushing yards, the most the 49ers have allowed all season. Whether on a called run, an option or a scramble, Jackson found open space with his speed and his ankle-breaking moves. Yet, his game wasn’t perfect. On the opening drive of the second half, Jackson broke loose for a 13-yard run, sliding right before cornerback Richard Sherman was able to deliver a hit.
When Jackson got up, the always-vocal Sherman had something to say. It was unclear from the broadcast if Sherman was talking to Jackson or his defense, but three plays later, when Jackson scrambled again, he didn’t slide. Jackson tried to power his way past reserve safety Marcell Harris, who entered the game five snaps prior when Jaquiski Tartt was injured. Harris took a play out of Tartt’s book, and stripped Jackson on the tackle to turn a potential Baltimore scoring drive into a 49ers’ one.
Yet, Jackson was able to recover, orchestrating the six-minute game-winning drive that handed the 49ers their second loss of the season. He converted a huge fourth-and-1 QB sneak and a third-and-1 scramble to not only extend the drive, but also prevent the 49ers from ever getting the ball back. It wasn’t the flashiest day, but given the weather, and the talent on the 49ers’ defense, Jackson did everything needed to come away with the major win.
Mostert Carries the Load
With running back Tevin Coleman ineffective, and co-starter Matt Breida inactive, reserve Raheem Mostert once again received an increased workload. Although he’s mostly been a special teams ace in his career, Mostert’s performance on Sunday should have earned him a place in the backfield rotation for the foreseeable future. He took advantage of the added snaps, rushing for a career-high 146 yards.
Mostert’s running style looked a lot like Jackson’s, often beating linebackers and linemen to the sideline with ease while making defensive backs miss. In the first half, Mostert rushed six times for 89 yards and a touchdown. Those 89 yards were good enough to eclipse his game-career-high. On his 40-yard touchdown run, he sprinted by cornerback Marcus Peters and then juked All-Pro safety Earl Thomas for the then game-tying touchdown.
Mostert continued his success in the second half, earning the first 100-yard rushing game of his career. With Coleman’s recent struggles, Mostert’s breakout is a sorely needed weapon in the San Francisco arsenal.
Fred Warner vs Mark Andrews was the Battle of the Day
On second-and-10 during Baltimore’s first drive of the game, Jackson thought he had a wide-open Marquise Brown across the middle of the field, something that has happened often for the Ravens’ offense. Yet, Warner was able to quickly close in on Brown, deflecting the pass away for a perfectly timed dive. After another deep shot fell incomplete, the 49ers forced the Ravens to punt.
The next drive, however, Jackson got his revenge on Warner. The linebacker’s coverage was slightly delayed by a play-action fake, which freed up tight end Mark Andrews just long enough for Jackson to find him for a 20-yard touchdown.
Warner did not dwell on the mistake. He quickly learned from his error and played rather well in pass coverage the rest of the game, coming away with a vital pass-deflection in the fourth quarter. With 9:41 left, Baltimore went for it on fourth-and-5 on the San Francisco 40 yard line.
Jackson once again attacked the Andrews-Warner matchup, but this time Warner came out on top, deflecting the pass away to end Baltimore’s potential scoring-drive. Andrews finished the day with 50 receiving yards and a touchdown while Warner had two pass deflections and 11 tackles.
Deebo Must be More Involved
The 49ers received the opening kick and had one thing in mind: get into the end zone. After a strong opening-drive, which included a clutch third-down conversion to Kendrick Bourne, the 49ers found themselves on Baltimore’s 33 yard line.
The weather offered horrible kicking conditions, making a fourth-and-2 conversion attempt the best decision. Despite only needing two yards, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo went for the home run to wide receiver Deebo Samuel. The rookie showed the physicality he’s become known for thus far, “Mossing” Peters for a quick 33-yard touchdown.
He added an eight-yard catch and a 20-yard rush in the first half, but was almost completely erased in the second-half. He was targeted just once, with the pass falling incomplete. Whether it was due to the weather or the Ravens keying on him, Samuel needs more touches for San Francisco’s offense to be at its best.