And it was a sign of things to come for Burrow, leading to a 31-17 Bengals win.
The Bengals left plenty of points on the board in the process, missing a field goal and fumbling away the ball in the red zone in the first half. That was a dangerous way to live after entering the game at 3-3 after a bye week.
Here’s a look at some must-know stats, notes and details from right after the game went final.
— Right out of the gates, Lou Anarumo’s defense got a big stop on a third-and-short with x-factor DJ Reader influencing things big time.
— Joe Burrow’s first drive, which ended with a touchdown, had one of the top highlights of his career so far.
— A busted play for a huge gain down the field by the young Bengals secondary put the 49ers in a spot to score the tying touchdown on the next drive. DJ Turner and Cam Taylor-Britt got mixed up on a coverage. Struggles containing deep passes would be a theme.
— Second offensive drive, Burrow leads a scoring drive on a play that looked like it was called dead by officials.
— Star DE Trey Hendrickson suffered an injury. He later returned.
— Evan McPherson missed a 50-yard attempt in the second quarter. That would normally be surprising, but both team’s kickers were struggling big time in warmups before the game. Later in the game, though, he made a 56-yarder.
— One of the biggest moments of the game came near the end of the first half when Burrow fired a 19th straight completion, only for Irv Smith to fumble it. Not only a huge point swing, but another setback for a position that isn’t doing enough.
— Germaine Pratt with one of the wildest interceptions possible as the 49ers were driving on the 19-yard line and threatening to score, tipping the pick to himself.
— Logan Wilson followed that up with a pick of his own, fooling the quarterback off the snap.
— The very next play, many drives’ worth of misdirection led to the 49ers biting at the line of scrimmage and Burrow-Chase connecting for probably their easiest touchdown of the year.
— Defense coughed up more big plays and failed to keep the quarterback in the pocket, eventually letting up a passing score to make it 24-17.
— Joe Mixon scored the game-ender after a simple enough drive in which the outside running game found something to exploit and ended it.
29: Number of first downs for the Bengals offense. Just an out-of-nowhere outburst for the team and a sign that things might just finally be getting back to normal. Not bad against a Nick Bosa-led defense, either.
QB Joe Burrow: It’s not just that Burrow is fully healthy. He was sharp too, mostly making the right decisions (one ill-advised handoff to Ja’Marr Chase comes to mind as an issue) and getting the ball places with accuracy.
LB Germaine Pratt: He’s always around the football so it’s not shocking to see his name high on the stat sheet. But that redzone interception he tipped to himself? Just epic and game-changing.
The plan is underway: This was always the idea — compile as good of a record as possible before the bye with a hobbled Burrow, then fire out of the break at full strength for what they hope is a run similar to last year’s nine straight wins after the bye. Sunday was the proof of concept, a win over a very good 49ers team and what is now the third victory in a row.