Coming off of a tough loss in Seattle, the Bengals came into Paul Brown Stadium in their home opener looking for a win. They were unable to find one.
The Bengals defense was as bad in Week 2 as they were good in Week 1. The 49ers recorded 291 yards in the first half, which was 59 more yards than the Seahawks gained in the whole game in Week 1. They ended the day with nearly 600 total yards, with 251 of them coming on the ground.
With the ball in their hands first, the Bengals started off about as poorly as you can draw it up. They were backed up to their own their own 10-yard line after allowing a sack on the first play. Add in a fumble on the next play and just an eight-yard completion on third down, and the Bengals punted from their own goal line.
The 49ers got the ball at about midfield and only used four plays on their next drive. With only 11:21 remaining in the opening quarter, WR Marquise Goodwin found a gaping hole in the defense, giving Jimmy Garoppolo the easiest 38-yard touchdown pass of his life. With Robbie Gould’s extra point, the 49ers took a quick 7-0 lead.
Tyler Boyd showed that he could also get open on the next play. Andy Dalton connected with Boyd on a 47-yard pass on their first play from scrimmage. The Bengals gave the ball to Joe Mixon three plays in a row, which set up a one-yard play-action touchdown pass to Tyler Eifert for his first score of the season. The touchdown was the Bengals’ first from the red zone this season, after getting none on three red zone attempts in Seattle in Week 1. Randy Bullock hit the extra point, and the Bengals’ tied the game at 7 apiece with 6:43 left in the first quarter.
After inflicting damage through the air, the 49ers went after the Bengals on the ground on the next drive. Matt Breida ran for 21 yards on three carries, and Garoppolo added another ten yards on two carries. But it was the second-string running back, Raheem Mostert, who dealt the knock-out blow on a 39-yard screen pass that he took to the house. With 2:36 to go in the first quarter, Gould’s extra point gave the 49ers a 14-7 lead.
The Bengals’ defense pressured Garoppolo on the next drive, and with the help of a few false starts, the 49ers faced a second-and-20. Garoppolo flinged the ball into the air, and William Jackson picked it off and returned the ball to the 49ers’ 30-yard line. Penalties pushed the Bengals back to the edge of Bullock’s range, and he missed a 52-yard attempt.
Breida kept gouging the Bengals’ defense and gave the 49ers a first-and-goal on the one-yard line. Jeffery Wilson ran it the short distance for his first career touchdown to extend his team’s lead. The 49ers were up 21-7 after the extra point with 10:09 left in the second quarter.
John Ross III was shutout in the first quarter and a half following his career day in Week 1, but he flashed his speed on a slant, extending the reception from a 10-yarder to a 34-yard catch. The Bengals couldn’t get past the 19-yard line despite the uptick in offense, so Bullock hit a manageable 37-yard field goal with 6:57 remaining in the half.
The Bengals’ started their next drive pinned back at their 3-yard line, but Dalton kept going to Boyd for two straight third-down conversions. On a drive where the Bengals desperately need points, Dalton threw the ball right at LB Kwon Alexander for an interception.
With the momentum, the 49ers once again turned to Breida and Mostert on the ensuing possession. With time running out, though, all Garoppolo and Kyle Shanahan could manage was a 33-yard field goal with only two seconds left until halftime. The teams would go to the locker rooms with the 49ers on top 24-10.
The first half was a trainwreck for the offense. Bengals’ running backs only averaged 1.4 yards a carry in the first half, and got no help from the passing game. Dalton was eight for eight with a touchdown pass in the first quarter, but only managed to complete seven of his 17 passes in the second quarter, with 84 yards and an interception.
A lot of blame for the Bengals lack of offense should go to the offensive line. Missed blocking assignments and penalties impeded the run game and moved the line of scrimmage backwards. The first quarter was especially bad for Andre Smith, who eventually left the game due to a groin injury.
The Bengals’ defense simply could not find an answer for Breida and Mostert, who combined for almost 150 total scrimmage yards in the first half. This team was night and day compared to the Week 1 Bengals.
It took the 49ers only 11 seconds to get to the Bengals’ 36-yard line to open the second half. Rookie WR Deebo Samuel picked up a 39-yard reception, using all the open space to get deep into Bengals territory. A holding penalty wasn’t enough keep Breida down, who followed it up with a 21-yard run. The 49ers chipped their way down the field from their until the drive ended up on an easy one-yard touchdown pass to Samuel. With 12:10 to go in the third quarter, the 49ers increased their lead to an increasingly insurmountable 31-10.
The 49ers kept doing what they had been doing all game: running the ball down the Bengals’ throats, then picking the secondary apart when the Bengals stacked the box. Their strategy worked again until the 49ers got to the 20-yard line. Shanahan settled for a field goal, and the 49ers lead increased again to 34-10 with 5:28 left in the third quarter.
Tight end George Kittle finally got involved in the passing game. After catching the pass from Garoppolo, he put a massive stiff arm on Dre Kirkpatrick to extend the play to a 36-yard catch. The 49ers pounded the ball all the way down to the one-yard line where Wilson, who was just promoted off the practice squad, scored he second touchdown of his career. Gould nailed the extra point, and the 49ers led 41-10 with 14:56 to go until the game would mercifully end.
With a whopping 31-point lead in the fourth quarter, the 49ers stuck to the running game on offense. But with a 7.4 average yards per carry going into the drive, they lost no efficiency in moving the chains. But the Bengals defense finally held up against the 49ers, and in their first stroke of luck all game, force a 39-yard field goal, which Gould pushed to the right.
The Bengals finally got some garbage time offense going, and Drew Sample recorded his first career reception. Dalton connected with Boyd three times on the drive for 21 yards, but still couldn’t convert on third-and-two on the 16 yard line. Dalton lofted a touchdown pass to Boyd on the fourth down conversion, but the play was negated by a holding penalty on Billy Price. The Bengals failed to convert on the ensuing fourth-and-eleven.
The Bengals would make one more push in garbage time as Ross stretched another short pass into a long gain. After catching the short pass from Dalton, Ross raced 66 yards to the end zone with 45 seconds left in the game. Bullock kicked the extra point through for the extra point.
Garoppolo kneeled it out, and the result was final. The 49ers won the game 41-17.
The Bengals had a lot to feel good about in their Week 1 loss, but had absolutely nothing to feel good about in their second defeat. The Bengals fell to 0-2 after the beating they took from the 49ers, but they now look to find a way to win in Buffalo next week.