What We Saw: Week 16 Saturday Edition

We're still trying to find where the Arizona game aired.

49ers @ Cardinals


“Wow, Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins are hoping to stay in the playoff hunt against an injured 49ers defense… that sounds like it’ll be a fun one to watch!”

Defensive enthusiasts got another Christmas gift today. Audiences got to watch Kyler Murray run from pressure, while the Cardinals’ offense shot themselves in the foot with false starts and drops galore. Jeff Wilson Jr. got to run wild against a porous Cardinals’ front and everyone’s favorite fullback Kyle Juszczyk vultured a couple of TD receptions from the goal line. The Cardinals struggled mightily against Defensive Coordinator Robert Saleh’s scheme, while the 49ers survived several missed field goals from Robbie Gould to go on to win an ugly one, 20-12.


San Francisco 49ers




C.J. Beathard: 13/22, 182 yards, 3 TDs, 3 sacks, 1 fumble lost | 3 carries, 18 yards


Beathard wasn’t really asked to do too much, with his 3 TDs coming from short passes and quick out routes. 15 of his passes targeted players less than 10 yards away. He tried to extend some plays via his legs, adding just shy of 20 yards on the ground. He was pressured fairly often, but was able to take care of the ball and manage the game. Beathard will get another start next week; he’s not completely unstartable, but he’s not going to add a whole lot through the air or on the ground. Beathard will get a fairly mediocre Seattle pass defense next week (24th in pass DVOA), but the running game will be the focus.


Running Backs


Jeff Wilson Jr: 22 carries, 183 yards | 2 targets, 1 reception, 21 yards, 1 TD

Jerick McKinnon: 1 carry, 4 yards | 4 targets, 3 receptions, 28 yards

Kyle Juszczyk: 1 carry, 3 yards | 3 targets, 2 receptions, 10 yards, 2 TDs


It was all about Wilson today. Kyle Shanahan’s crafty plays to open up holes for the running game worked wonders, as Wilson was able to rack up an absurd 8.3 YPC. Once the ball was in his hands, Wilson was tough to take down, shifting into high gear when needed — he hit a top speed of 20.5 mph — and breaking out the shake-and-bake moves to keep the defenders missing (see below!). With Raheem Mostert out on IR for next week, Wilson will be a very strong start as an RB2 or FLEX for fantasy managers still playing in Week 17. Any fears about an RBBC were assuaged this week, as Wilson dominated the touches and is likely in line to dominate touches once again next week.



Shanahan loves him some Juszczyk, using him to take the pressure off Beathard when need be and rewarding him with some goal line touches. Unfortunately for those who invested in Wilson, Juszczyk was right there to take away those TDs, which “limited” Wilson’s big day. With those two catches, “Juice” singlehandedly doubled his receiving TD total on the season. He’s not worth starting in most leagues, but he is likely going to take away some touches and opportunities from the 49ers’ running backs.



Wide Receivers/Tight Ends


George Kittle: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 92 yards

Kendrick Bourne: 1 target, 1 reception, 16 yards

Brandon Aiyuk: 2 targets, 1 reception, 15 yards | 1 carry, 16 yards


For those fantasy managers who were hoping to see Brandon Aiyuk repeat his monster performance from a week ago…my sincerest apologies. Shanahan tried to get him going with a neat running play, but otherwise Aiyuk didn’t get a whole lot of looks. As you can tell, this passing game was a whole lot of Kittle and virtually nothing else. The running backs soaked up some targets and receptions (6 of Beathard’s 13 completions), while the game script really was not in the receiving corps’ favor, as the 49ers led basically from the get-go. Outside of Kittle, the receivers are going to be heavily dependent on game script, especially since next week will be just the second start of the year for C.J. Beathard; they haven’t had a ton of time to develop any chemistry with Beathard under center.


Arizona Cardinals




Kyler Murray: 31/50, 247 yards, 1 INT, 3 sacks | 8 carries, 75 yards


It was an ugly stat-line for Murray this week, with the completion percentage bogged down by drops and bad passes. Murray — along with the rest of the offense — struggled to move the chains with any regularity, as the 49ers’ defense was able to keep explosive plays to a minimum. DeAndre Hopkins was well-contained, which in turn hurt the Cardinals’ offense overall. Murray was able to salvage a fantasy-relevant day with his legs, including a fantastic play call by Kliff Kingsbury on 4th and inches to keep a fourth-quarter drive alive. Murray continued his streak of throwing an interception in the end zone, as he essentially threw a pass to CB Ahkello Witherspoon instead of his own WR, Christian Kirk. Making matters worse is that Murray was injured on the Cardinals’ final offensive play. There’s no news yet on Murray’s injury, but it did not look promising for next week. The Cardinals will try to keep their playoff hopes alive against the Los Angeles Rams next week in Los Angeles.




Running Backs


Kenyan Drake: 18 carries, 45 yards, 1 TD | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 6 yards


Kenyan Drake struggling in high volume spots? Gee, who would have thought? Drake really wasn’t able to find a whole lot of running room, racking up just 2.5 YPC. It was tough for Drake to get a whole lot going on the ground, especially with the Cardinals’ front facing a lot of pressure from the 49ers. Defensive Coordinator Robert Saleh was happy to dial it up against Murray and Drake, daring them to beat the defense through the air. Drake also didn’t see a whole lot of work in the passing game, even with Chase Edmonds out for the week. If Edmonds is out next week, Drake is going to see a decent amount of carries, enough to warrant FLEX consideration. What he does with those touches, however, is not going to be particularly dynamic or exciting.


Wide Receivers


DeAndre Hopkins: 12 targets, 8 receptions, 48 yards

Christian Kirk: 10 targets, 7 receptions, 76 yards

KeeSean Johnson: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 50 yards

Larry Fitzgerald: 8 targets, 6 receptions, 28 yards

Dan Arnold: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 25 yards


Let’s revisit last week’s WWS recap of the Eagles/Cardinals affair: “When looking to pass, Hopkins is Murray’s first and second target, with the handful of remaining targets going to running backs, tight end Dan Arnold, or Fitzgerald generally. No other receiver besides Hopkins is going to be a reliable starter in fantasy for the final two games of the season.”

That about sums it up, although Dan Arnold had some brutal drops that would have helped move the offense downfield and have made Arnold’s fantasy day far better than it ended up being. Murray didn’t look his way much after the second drop. Hopkins went down with what appeared to be a groin injury and went straight to the locker room but was able to return for the second half. Otherwise, he was more or less “erased” by Jason Verrett and the rest of the 49ers’ secondary. When Hopkins was open, he was taken down quickly or hit hard and eliminated much of the YAC that would have helped his fantasy managers. Christian Kirk came back from the land of the fantasy forgotten to post a solid day. When Hopkins went down with an injury shortly before the end of the second quarter, Kirk stepped up to reel in some good looks from Murray. Again, this offense is going to lean heavily into Hopkins and Murray, with the occasional target tossed to Fitzgerald or maybe Kirk, now that Arnold is in the doghouse, but no one is worth starting besides Hopkins from this receiving corps.


— Adam Sloate (@MrAdster99)

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