By Josh Dubow | The Associated Press
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — The San Francisco 49ers appeared to hit rock bottom when they were embarrassed at home two weeks ago by backup quarterback Colt McCoy and the Arizona Cardinals.
Back-to-back convincing wins has put that disappointment firmly in the past and left the Niners in the thick of the playoff race after a 30-10 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
“I think these past 14 days have, I don’t want to say changed our team, but we’re moving in the right direction now, I’ll say,” quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said. “We just got to keep going. There’s a lot of football left to be played.”
The formula the past two weeks has been pretty consistent for the 49ers (5-5). Rely on a diverse running game to control the clock, get efficient quarterback play from Garoppolo and let the defense do the rest.
It has led to wins of 20 more points against the Rams and Jaguars as the Niners have run the ball at least 40 times in both games and Garoppolo has thrown four TDs with no turnovers and a league-best 130.0 rating.
It’s a far cry from the 31-17 home loss to the Cardinals.
“After that Arizona game, it was pretty low because we were embarrassed on how we looked,” coach Kyle Shanahan said. “When we watched the tape, we saw a lot of stuff that we felt we could fix. It wasn’t as discouraging as it felt during that game, and I was happy with the guys that instead of getting discouraged, they kept it real and just watched the tape and saw the stuff that we could improve on.”
Deebo the back. The Niners once again relied on star receiver Deebo Samuel as a running back and he responded with seven carries for 79 yards and a TD. He has 115 yards rushing the past two weeks as he has been used as a traditional runner at times. He is third in the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 1,131 and has scored eight TDs.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Trent Wiliams the receiver. The Niners dominant left tackle lined up as an eligible receiver for the first time in his career near the goal line in the third quarter and was targeted in the end zone. But he was double covered and Garoppolo couldn’t hit him.
“When I reported eligible, I heard the whole defense yelling, we got to double-team 71,” Williams said. “I’m joking. I’m joking. I don’t think I sold it long enough. I think I was a little bit too excited to leak out, so I got to stick in there a little bit, maybe open it up.”
Josh Norman. After getting benched following a personal foul two weeks ago against Arizona, Norman had one of his better games on Sunday. He allowed only one catch in coverage, broke up a pass and had a forced fumble. Norman’s six forced fumbles lead the NFL and are the most for the Niners since Roy Barker had eight in 1996.
Jaylon Moore. The rookie got the start at right tackle again in place of the injured Mike McGlinchey, but struggled at times in pass protection and played only nine snaps in the second half as Tom Compton came in to spell him.
G Laken Tomlinson hurt his ankle Sunday and will be limited in practice. … RB Elijah Mitchell (finger) remains day to day and could return this week after missing one game. … CB Davontae Harris hurt his knee Sunday but should be able to practice.
13:05. The 49ers opened the game with a clock-killing drive, going 87 yards in 20 plays over 13:05 before settling for a 20-yard field goal by Robbie Gold. It was the longest drive in terms of time in the NFL since Tennessee had a drive of 13:27 at Dallas on Nov. 27, 1997, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The 49ers host Minnesota on Sunday in a matchup of wild-card contenders.