Sport: What the 49ers are saying after beating the Chargers

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The 49ers started the second half of their season strong Sunday night with a 22-16 comeback win over the Los Angeles Chargers. They are now 5-4, just one game behind the Seahawks for the NFC West lead.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) is all smiles after defeating the Los Angeles Chargers during their NFL game at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022. The San Francisco 49ers defeated the Los Angeles Chargers 22-16. © JOSE CARLOS FAJARDO/Bay Area News Group/TNS San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) is all smiles after defeating the Los Angeles Chargers during their NFL game at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022. The San Francisco 49ers defeated the Los Angeles Chargers 22-16.

After allowing a quick score to open the game, the 49ers’ defense locked up Justin Herbert and the Chargers’ offense, allowing only 57 yards (and zero points) in the second half. Los Angeles entered the red zone twice in the first half after its initial strike, but walked away both times with only a field goal.

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The Niners, despite trailing throughout, stuck to their game plan and racked up 41 rushing attempts. Though they only gained 157 yards on the ground, they wore down the Chargers’ defenders, and the clock, when it mattered most.

Elijah Mitchell led the way with 89 yards on 18 carries and Christian McCaffrey added 38 yards on 14 carries, along with a 2-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter to give the 49ers their first lead of the game. It was the only lead they needed.

Jimmy Garoppolo also ran for a score on a third-down sneak from the 1-yard line, in addition to his 240-yard passing performance, completing 19 of 28 attempts.

Here’s what the 49ers had to say about the win.

Kyle Shanahan

On the defensive shutout in the second half:

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Had a couple mistakes in the first half, but in the second half, like two weeks ago, the defense hunkered down and didn’t make many mistakes.

On rushing 40-plus times:

We wanted to run the ball a lot. We didn’t think we’d get that many, especially with how good they are in short-yardage situations. The way our defense went in the second half, we got the ball back and converted on short yardage. … We struggled in the red zone, being 2-of-5, which plays into their hands. The defense the last two drives came up big.

On third-and-long conversions:

Jimmy made some big plays on third and long. The one he hit ray-ray was an off-schedule play and did a great job finding him. The throw to George over the middle, great job finding him as No. 2 in the progression. And he did a hell of a job on those sneaks.

On Elijah Mitchell’s carry count vs. McCaffrey’s:

We were hoping the carries would come out even, but you never know how the game goes.

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On the offense overall:

Some good things but not good enough.

On Dre Greenlaw being ejected:

It kind of blew my mind. I get the penalty, but I have to learn what that is. I haven’t seen a replay and I’ll watch it tonight at home. There had to be intent or something necessary and that was a big play right there. For us to lose Greenlaw for the whole game off that, I mean, that really shocked me. Hopefully they can teach us that so we can understand why we lost one of our players.

On building momentum after the bye:

I want them to feel like that. Overall we played our best team game, our cleanest vs. rams couple weeks ago. That was great momentum and wanted to pick up off that. We had opportunities.

On Jennings’ key third-down catch late:

We had Kittle over the middle and Aiyuk deep and they just sunk on everyone and Jajuan to just catch it and move the chains, I believe earlier in the game, too, where he carried the guy to move the chains, so Jauan has been great for us, did an awesome job last year and it’s good to get him back in this game.

On Hufanga:

Huff seemed like he played well. I know he’d love to have that touchdown back on the first drive with that one zone dog but to come out and finish with the pick, we definitely want to watch Herbert do many more downs.

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On his team’s performance:

I was proud of our team today. Like I want to play better — I want to blow people out. I want to score every time we go. But those are the types of games that that team is really good at winning, the Chargers.

On Mitchell and McCaffrey:

It’s nice to kind of make those guys a 1-2 punch and keep Deebo as a bonus.

On coming back to win:

I love seeing that. I know our numbers were bad on that so that’s cool that they did that but it didn’t feel like a huge comeback win. I just felt like the whole game was kind of the same … I almost treated it like a 0-0 game all the way to the end, and it kind of was, with a one-score game all game.

On not going for it on the first drive:

Yeah, I definitely thought about going for it, but I think we have lots of charts on third down.

Talanoa Hufanga

On the touchdown allowed:

I started off rough, gave up the early touchdown. I’ll take all that. You guys saw it, it was all on me so I just gotta be better with my eyes and just continue play the game. You know, I flushed it.

On the defense standing up after the early score:

If you can hold an offense to zero points, you have a good chance of winning the game.

On the defensive turnaround:

We made some adjustments at halftime, continued to be physical. We wanted to get after it up front, play loose on the back end and fly to (the ball). I gave up that early one, that set the tone of us backing up a bit. Then we swarmed to the ball.

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On losing Greenlaw:

If you look at his backup in Azeez, they’re very similar guys…

On the timing of the bye week:

Everybody loves a bye week. I think it kind of hit perfect in the middle of the season, for sure, but came out healthy.

Fred Warner

On the second half:

We just kept it simple. We literally just ran one call, I feel like, the entire second half. When we got to third down, we would dial it up with some pressures but first and second down we literally just ran the same thing over and over, just kept it real simple.

On that call:

I can’t give that away. It’s secret.

On Greenlaw’s ejection:

Anytime you lose your brother out there, that’s frustrating. But Azeez came in and did a great job replacing him. He’s obviously been in that position before so he did a good job out there.

On red zone stops:

It didn’t matter what situation we were put in, we were able to kind of hold them to three and that was huge, especially in the red zone.

On trailing but controlling the game:

It was such a tight game all the way through, I knew that we were still kind of like in control the whole game.

On a scrappy win:

These are the kind of wins that kind of mean more, the ones that you gotta scrap out, you know, things that might not go your way and as much as you want to blow a team out, it’s like when you’re down, how are you going to look each other in the eyes, and go out there and compete and try to find a way. There’s going to be even more times like that where we’re going to be in even a tougher situation throughout the season. I think this is what builds character within teams and is going to set us up for success later on in the season.

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On turnovers as the last bit for the defense:

We always go into every game with the goal of taking three, so that’s for sure. It’s not something that’s not talked about. We talk about it every day as something that’s on our mind. We just gotta go out and take it.

Jimmy Garoppolo

On the defense:

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You could just feel it and I think that gave us a lot of momentum as an offense to just keep getting stop after stop and we answered finally.

On crucial moments:

When we get in those tough situations, it’s how can we overcome it, and I thought we did that a couple times tonight, especially in big, big situations. Jauan making a couple of big plays. BA at the end, making a couple big snags is those type of plays, made a difference.

On his deep pass to McCloud:

It was kind of a broken play. I got off the firsthand second read, started scrambling. Ray-Ray just became a football player, man. It’s kind of what we’ve been talking about in our skill meetings, just being a football player, making plays like that.

On buy-in

We have a very unselfish team. I think that’s very hard to find in the NFL nowadays, just everyone’s bought on individual stats, fantasy points, all the fantasy owners out there, but we got a team man and I think it showed last week against the rams, guys stepping up in different roles and just showed it again today. Just guys don’t care if they get 10 targets or one target. We get a W, a W is a W and that’s all we’re here for.

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Elijah Mitchell

On playing:

Felt good to be back, it’s been a long time and feeling good coming out of the game.

On missing time:

It’s always bad being on the sideline or being hurt. Being out there with your brothers, it’s a different feeling.

On having the whole group healthy:

To have everybody, that’s what you want. You don’t want nobody down, so it’s amazing.

On himself and McCaffrey sharing the backfield:

At the end of the day, it helps both of us. He’s in year six, an unbelievable back and I get to learn from him. I’m excited for it. We can be the best duo of backs in the league, in my opinion.

On the turning point:

At the end of the third quarter and the fourth quarter, that’s when we really started running the ball and really putting it to them and we could just see the defense and they were very tired, so we definitely felt it.

Nick Bosa

On the second-half shutout:

It’s extremely satisfying. We needed it. We got our offense back and got the win.

On Greenlaw’s ejection:

It’s a tough play. Stuff happens really fast out there and I know him. He’s not trying to hurt anybody.

On adjustments to pressure Herbert:

Not too many adjustments. I think we just stuck with it and kept going, turned out well.

On Jordan Willis:

For him to come back after a long break, getting his knee right, I’m really proud of him. I knew he’d really contribute for us. He has over the years. I’m really happy for him.

On turnovers as the last piece of a dominant defense:

That’s what changes games and we emphasize it as much as we can throughout the week but we really need to hone in on game day. We might lose that focus a little bit but sometimes stuff like that just doesn’t come. I’m glad we got one.

On mindset when rushing a QB like Herbert who’s hard to sack:

Same mindset but with a quarterback like that, he’s going to see pressure, move around, step up. You can’t get frustrated. You got to stay cohesive as a unit and not have any independent contractors out there, trying to go get a play for ourselves.

On DeMeco Ryans:

I think he’s always been a really good coach and it really comes down to us executing what he calls and I think he listens to us. He asked us throughout the game, what we like, what we think is going to work and I think that’s a big thing, just the communication between us.

On wearing down the Chargers:

We ran the ball 40 times and I think anytime the 49ers do that, it’s going to be a good day.

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NFL executives believe Sean Payton will wait for one team to coach again .
The Chargers first emerged as a Payton destination over the summer.Payton continues to be linked to the Chargers. While some key hurdles remain in the path of such a partnership, league buzz is not cooling down here. Some around the league believe Payton will wait out this job, per ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler, who calls the Payton-Bolts connection a rather poorly kept secret.

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