The San Francisco 49ers got back on track in Week 14, carving out a hard-fought win over a gritty Cincinnati Bengals squad. Though they lost the huge lead that they built in the first half, Jimmy Garoppolo and company were able to get the job done in overtime to secure the victory, so it's time for some 49ers Week 14 takeaways.
With the outcome, the Niners have improved to a 7-6 record for the third spot in the NFC West. Amid their current standing, the team must nab wins in their remaining games in order to book a playoff seat this season. They will hope to keep their momentum going when they host the Atlanta Falcons in Week 15 action.
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San Francisco 49ers Week 14 Takeaways
3. The Niners' defense made its presence felt
The 49ers might have had a huge letdown in the fourth quarter, but the team's defensive unit still deserves credit for stepping up and limiting the Bengals' offense as much as they could. Linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair led the pack with eight total tackles and a sack, while cornerback K'Waun Williams also pitched in five total tackles and a sack of his own.
Star defensive end Nick Bosa made life hard for opposing QB Joe Burrow, recording two sacks while fellow pass rushers Samson Ebukam and Arden Key had a half-sack each against the Bengals as well.
Though they had a good performance, the Niners' defense can still learn a lot from this game, especially with the lapses that they had on their end late in the game. They will definitely have to buckle down and correct their errors in order to help preserve their leads in their upcoming games.
2. George Kittle is officially back
For the past couple of years, tight end George Kittle has been troubled with a handful of injuries that slowed him down after stellar campaigns in 2018 and 2019. Since then, the Niners faithful has yet to see him consistently return to his Pro Bowl form, though he remains one of the vital weapons of the team's offense to this day.
Well, it looks like Kittle might officially back.
In Week 13 against the Seattle Seahawks, he was able to notch 181 yards on nine receptions and two touchdowns, though this all came in a loss. In Week 14 against the Bengals, Kittle served as the focal point of the 49ers' offense, tallying 151 yards on 13 catches and a touchdown in the big win.
His production was instrumental as he stepped up when the team needed him the most, and his crucial catches were able to help keep the Bengals at bay. Without a doubt, Kyle Shanahan will need the two-time Pro Bowler to perform at his best in their remaining games if they want to go far and secure a slot for themselves in the upcoming postseason.
1. San Francisco capitalized on key Bengals errors to win
On Sunday, the 49ers looked impressive when they built an early lead to create separation from the Bengals. However, the home team found a way to rally back with a 14-point outburst in the fourth quarter. Cincinnati moved very well on the field in the latter parts of the game, relying on the Joe Burrow-Ja'Marr Chase connection in a bid to catch up to their opponent.
Despite their efforts, the Bengals were hurt by their self-inflicted wounds, which were also the same reason why they lost to the Los Angeles Chargers last week. Due to their lapses and errors on the field, they found it harder to find the end zone, which eventually hindered them from securing the win.
The 49ers were able to capitalize on the Bengals' errors, which allowed them to come away with a tight victory. It was a costly loss for Cincinnati, but San Francisco definitely made it count when it mattered the most. The much-needed dub increased the 49ers' chances of grabbing a playoff spot in the NFC.