49ers Stock Report: Three Risers and Fallers From Week 14
Jose Luis Sanchez III
Drew Brees has a long resume of decimating opponents at the New Orleans SuperDome. Not many teams are able to get up and match him blow for blow. However, that is exactly what the San Francisco 49ers did as they defeated the Saints in shootout fashion.
It was a much needed win for the 49ers to get back into their first-round bye position in the NFC playoffs. This game had everything, except for defense. That is why the latest stock report for week 14 will see the bulk of the defensive unit falling. But first, let’s take a look at the players who’s stock is rising following the 48-46 win against the Saints.
If it looked like there was a fire on the field when the 49ers were on offense, then don’t worry. It was just Jimmy Garoppolo dealing with immense heat. From the very first drive of the game you could tell that it was going to be a special day for Garoppolo. Being able to match Drew Brees in a shootout is a rare sight.
Garoppolo is continually raising his stock and shutting the doubters down. Critics of the 49ers have constantly pointed to Garoppolo as a “weak link”. After what he did in New Orleans - the slander must end.
“The thing that impressed me the most was just how he handled the noise.” Kyle Shanahan on Garoppolo’s performance. “I’ve been in that stadium a lot, but it was louder than usual to me. You never can hear at the line, but it was very hard for him to hear in the huddle.”
Playing in the SuperDome is one of the most challenging places to perform for a quarterback and the noise is a huge reason why. On Sunday, it replicated a playoff atmosphere which only increased the pressure. It’s safe to say that the 49ers are in good hands with Garoppolo going into the playoffs.
Is Raheem Mostert the best running back on the San Francisco 49ers? That question may actually be a fact considering the overall season he has had. What has been special to watch is the last two weeks Mostert has put up. He has been playing out of his mind and is one of the factors for the success of the offense. Even Shanahan can see that Mosterts performance lately has been special.
“Raheem’s earned it over these last few weeks. I mean, how many games can you go and how many years can you go averaging six yards a carry, somewhere in there? I mean, we keep trying to balance it out and stuff, but what Raheem has done these last few weeks and has continued to do, we need to give him more opportunities.”
It is amazing to see how Mostert has evolved from a special teams player to a dominating force in the offense. His versatility just makes him much more enticing to roll out on the field. If he can keep this up, then he will be the clear lead back on this team.
The last time backup center Ben Garland was seen in action was against the Seattle Seahawks in week 10. Weston Richburg went out for a bit due to injury and his absence was immediately felt. Garland looked lost out there as the Seattle defensive front was outright bullying him. However, when Richburg went out against the Saints - Garland came in and played exceptionally well.
He more than made amends from his abysmal 10 snap performance in week 10. What he did in this game is an overlooked reason why the 49ers won the game. Has Garland came in and played completely lost, then we are likely not praising Garoppolo for his elite game. But Garland filled in nicely for Richburg who was just put on injured reserve. Garland will get the nod the rest of the way and Shanahan has the utmost confidence in him.
“Replacing Richburg is a huge job. He’s played very well for us this year and Ben came in and we were able to not miss a beat. He stepped it up, knew the game plan well, blocked those guys even when they were the head up nose.”
Ever since getting shutdown by the Arizona Cardinals in week 11 Tevin Coleman has been a non-factor. While it isn’t necessarily all on him - his stock is falling down. Mostert is a enormous reason for why Coleman is falling out of favor. That is the drawback for these players when it comes to running by committee. Whoever is playing the hottest will get ridden the most in the offense and so far it looks like Mostert will not slow down.
Coleman is still a valued player in the offense and surely he will find an opportunity to make an impact again. But as of right now he isn’t the best option for the 49ers to run the football. Even Matt Breida, who just returned from injury, saw a larger role against the Saints than Coleman. The door won’t be completely shut on Coleman because Shanahan knows what he can do. There will come a time where Coleman will be needed, but for now he is being put on the shelf.
Coming of a marvelous performance against the Ravens - Marcell Harris looked to have a strong handle filling in for Jaquiski Tartt. However, he came down to earth from his high-level performance in week 13. Harris didn’t necessarily have a bad game, but he wasn’t impacting it either. The very first offensive drive for the Saints - Harris allowed a touchdown pass from Brees to Jared Cook.
Shanahan was come out and defended Harris for that let up by putting the ownest on the failed underneath coverage. However, if Harris doesn’t whiff on the big hit or if he just wisely wraps Cook up instead, then the touchdown doesn’t occur. Now the way the Saints were driving they were likely going to score at least a field goal. Regardless, that mistake and just an overall absent feel has Harris normalized this week.
Filling in for a stud player like Kwon Alexander is no easy feat. So far since starting in his stead, Dre Greenlaw has shrunken the hole left by Alexander. It also helps that Fred Warner is playing at an All-Pro level. Nevertheless, Greenlaw has been sound in every game this season. That was until he stepped foot into the SuperDome.
Greenlaw was getting picked on a bit by Drew Brees and looked like a liability in pass coverage. His stock is falling because he looked like a weakness to pick on. It was against Brees and his high powered offense, so his stock doesn’t drop by much. But the fact that he now has put on film that he can get exposed a bit in coverage is something to watch going forward.
Intelligent offensive coaches will spot that glimmer of a weakness. Sean McVay is someone that comes to mind since the 49ers have a final dance with the Rams in a couple of weeks. Greenlaw can still sure up his skills and it did take an elite offense to pick on him to get exposed. He’s not really a concern on the defense, but his stock definitely took a hit.