As the 49ers’ offensive players were returning to the sideline after a second-quarter score, safety Eric Reid and other defensive players greeted them by raising their wrists and tapping imaginary watches.
The joke: It was “Celek Time,” in honor of tight end Garrett Celek, who caught a five-yard touchdown from Jimmy Garoppolo during the 49ers’ 25-23 victory over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.
The phrase has caught fire among the 49ers precisely because Celek, known mostly as a blocking tight end, is so quiet and understated.
Coach Kyle Shanahan said last week that it began during the 49ers’ Week 10 win over the New York Giants.
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“I think he false-started or something and it set us back, but he ended up making three plays in a row, a critical play to get us into a third-and-two and then he moved the chains for us and then the next play he caught like a 20-yard pass and made a guy miss and took it to the house,” he said. “We just started joking there that they didn’t realize that it was ‘Celek Time’ and it just kind of stuck. We thought it was a one-time deal, but it came up again last week so now we’re getting used to it and guys enjoy it.”
There were plenty more occasions to break out the gag Sunday, including a 41-yard catch and run by Celek at the start of the fourth quarter that helped set up one of Robbie Gould’s six field goals. The play seemed to jump-start a 49ers offense that went cold in the third quarter.
“Yeah, ‘Celek Time.’ That guy,” Garoppolo said with a smile. “He always finds a way.”
Celek’s touchdown was his fourth of the year, the most he’s had in any of his six NFL seasons.
“To be utilized in the offense – it makes me feel like I’m finally contributing to the team,” Celek said. “I’ve been primarily a blocker in the past. So to be able to really affect the game in more than just the run phase, it feels great.”
Goodwin grieves again – Receiver Marquise Goodwin began the team’s win over the Giants grieving for the loss of his son, who was stillborn earlier that morning.
On Sunday he was dealing with another loss, the death of his father, who passed away just days earlier.
“I’m blessed. I’ve been dealing with a lot. I’m blessed,” Goodwin said. “I’m thankful for the opportunity. God has shown me so much in this season. I had a lot going on this year, losing my baby and I just recently lost my biological father this (past) week. It’s just been a lot, but I really didn’t let the outside negative energy affect how I play, how I approach this game or how I come to work each day. I just kind of stayed positive and kept my mind fresh, and I relied on God to bring me through all of the situations that I’ve been through.”
Shanahan noted that Goodwin, who wasn’t a regular starter during his first four years in the league with Buffalo, has been elevated to No. 1 receiver since Pierre Garcon was lost for the season in Week 8.
“I’ve been really impressed with Marquise because, as you can all see, in the second half of the year he’s really taken a lot on his shoulders,” the coach said. “He’s been through a lot and he’s responded well.”
Good as Gould – Gould, who kicked the game-winning field goal in Chicago two weeks ago, struck again Sunday, hitting a 45-yarder as time expired.
“My favorite part of a kick like that is watching the other sideline go completely silent,” said the veteran kicker, who also struck from 48 yards and 50 yards in the fourth quarter.
Gould’s 6-for-6 performance on field goals means he joins former Minnesota Vikings kicker Rich Karlis in having three games in one season with five or more field goals in a single game.
Gould was 5 for 5 during an early-season loss to the Arizona Cardinals. He also went 5 for 5 against the Bears. Karlis accomplished the feat in 1989.
Et cetera – Rookie Kendrick Bourne, who along with veteran Louis Murphy has filled in at Garcon’s spot, finished with career highs in catches and receiving yards with a four-catch, 85-yard effort.
▪ Linebacker Reuben Foster twice left the game and was checked by trainers in the blue tent on the team’s sideline. He returned to field each time and finished with eight tackles. DeForest Buckner led the team with nine stops and shared a sack with Tank Carradine.
▪ Former 49ers tight end Delanie Walker scored a four-yard touchdown for the Titans. Walker caught five of the 10 passes that went his way and finished with 37 receiving yards. He’s had only two lower totals this season.