HOUSTON (AP) — The San Francisco 49ers aren’t happy with where they stand this season.
However, the last few weeks have given them some hope for the future.
Jimmy Garoppolo threw for a career-high 334 yards and a touchdown to help the 49ers to their second straight win, 26-16 over the Houston Texans on Sunday.
The 49ers have won three of their last four after opening the season 0-9 under first-year coach Kyle Shanahan.
“It’s definitely exciting,” Shanahan said. “You can feel it in our building. Guys are gaining that confidence.”
A big part of San Francisco’s recent improvement has been the play of Garoppolo. Tom Brady’s former backup showed that he could be the answer for the 49ers at quarterback, going 20-for-33 in his second start for the team. Acquired before the trade deadline from New England, Garoppolo threw for 293 yards in his debut last week to help the 49ers to a 15-14 win at Chicago.
Shanahan said Garoppolo has a knack for making the players around him better.
“When you’ve got a guy like Jimmy who has been making some impressive throws, who’s been doing it on the practice field and he’s carried it to the game, I think guys always know they’ve got a chance,” Shanahan said. “And they’ve lived up to it.”
Garoppolo, who has started just four games in his four-year NFL career, is excited about the progress he’s seen from the offense in his short time with the team.
“We’ve got a little bit of momentum with us right now and we just need to keep plucking away ... and just keep getting better,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about, especially this time of year. We only have three games left now, so we just have to keep getting better and good things will happen.”
Garrett Celek, who had two receptions for 67 yards and a touchdown on Sunday, is impressed with the way the offense is running with Garoppolo under center.
“We’ve been playing a lot better, a lot smoother just all around,” he said.
Some things to know about San Francisco’s win over the Texans:
Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney continues to carry Houston’s defense with J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus out for the season with injuries. On Sunday, the top overall pick in the 2014 draft had a career-high four quarterback hits and added two tackles for losses to add to his career-best total of 20 this season.
But he couldn’t appreciate his big day because it came in yet another loss.
“I’m very upset,” he said. “Man, we’re 4-9. I’m upset about that. We’re a lot better than our record says.”
Coach Bill O’Brien appreciates the work Clowney has done.
“He plays very hard,” O’Brien said. “He’s a good player and ... it’s been a tough year, but he continues to play hard and that’s good to see. That helps our team.”
GOOD AS GOULD
A week after tying a career high by making five field goals, San Francisco kicker Robbie Gould had another good game, hitting four field goals in Sunday’s win. Gould connected from 52, 35 and 25 yards before securing the victory with a 41-yarder in the fourth quarter.
Houston receiver DeAndre Hopkins had two touchdown receptions on Sunday to give him a career-high-tying and NFL-best 11 this season. He also had a season-high 11 receptions for 149 yards to give him 1,233 yards, which is second in the league behind Antonio Brown. He needs 289 yards receiving combined in the last three games to surpass the career-high 1,521 yards he finished with in 2015.
“You see it on the film and you see the numbers,” San Francisco cornerback Adrian Colbert said. “I don’t care who your cornerback is, you have to double cover the guy. He’s a great receiver. He’s always been a great receiver.”
Houston quarterback Tom Savage and offensive tackle Kendall Lamm sustained concussions in the first quarter. Six Texans players have suffered concussions in the last two games combined. ... 49ers rookie receiver Victor Bolden injured his ankle in the second quarter and didn’t return. ... San Francisco cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon injured his knee in the fourth quarter. ... 49ers cornerback Dontae Johnson injured his knee, and Shanahan said he would know more about the injury after he had an MRI on Monday.