The San Francisco 49ers edged out the Los Angeles Rams at home Sunday Night 24-16, as the Niners save their season and climb back to .500 in must-win game.
The 49ers were facing some tough questions leading up to their Sunday night matchup against divisional rival the Los Angeles Rams — mostly about themselves, as their overall urgency was challenged in a historically embarrassing home unravelling at the hands of the Miami Dolphins last weekend. However, the 49ers will have hoped to get back to winning football, as they improved on 3rd and 4th down conversions and absolutely dominated time of possession as all three phases of Niners football complemented each other to get the W.
QB Jimmy Garoppolo completed 23 of 33 attempts for 268 yards, three TDs and a QB rating of 124.3 Sunday. Fans and media who have been critical of Garoppolo this season so far will say that head coach Kyle Shanahan effectively joysticked his quarterback throughout the game, calling plays that provided Garoppolo to make simple throws and find a rhythm early on.
The 49ers scored on their first drive of the game, relying heavily on Shanahan’s impressive play calling as well as the ‘YAC Bros’ ability to break tackles for extra yards, setting up good field position, and keeping the drive alive.
Deebo Samuel has consistently referred to himself, TE George Kittle, and WR Brandon Aiyuk as the ‘YAC Bros’ this season, given the trio’s ability to evade defenders and pick up added yards after the catch. The first drive for the 49ers saw a pitch to Samuel for a long gain up the left side, followed by a bubble screen to Aiyuk for another first down, then a play fake check down to Kittle to bring it to the five yard line, before Samuel took the same exact pitch play to the opposite side for the score.
Shanahan made it extremely easy for Garoppolo, disguising rushes as pass plays, giving him simple throws to be successful and get in rhythm. “Those were the run plays that we liked. So, mainly did that for that reason and just has to do a lot with what they played defensively,” Shanahan said in his postgame press conference. “That always helps the quarterback, too, when you're able to move down the field and have some run plays that count as pass plays. Gets you in a little bit of a rhythm and I think it helped.”
“When we're at our best is when we could run the ball like that,” Garoppolo reiterated. “When Kyle's mixing all that stuff up like that, it makes it hard on defenses. It’s a pick your poison type of thing. Kyle did a great job tonight putting us in good positions. He was on point tonight, so it makes all of our jobs a lot easier.”
The ‘YAC Bros’ were especially impressive on the night, scoring all three of the Niners touchdowns. WR Deebo Samuel found the endzone for his first TD of the season and fourth reception TD of his career, finishing the game with six receptions for 66 yards and one TD.
Kittle hauled in seven receptions for 109 yards and one TD, including a 44 yard TD reception on 4th and 2. Kittle’s 109 yards marked his second 100 yard receiving game of the season and 10th of his career.
Aiyuk scored his first career receiving TD on a 2 yard route to cap a 13-play, 75 yard drive just before the first half ended.
The 49ers offensive line helped the team rush for 122 yards on 37 carries and did not allow a sack on 33 pass attempts. The O-Line were up to task when it came to Rams Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald, moving the pocket around, and limiting him to two tackles and one QB hit on the day.
“I thought the O-Line had a hell of a game,” Shanahan told reporters after the game. “Always wait to see the film, but I thought they cleared a bunch of good lanes for our backs. I thought they protected very well versus a very good front and the results, I think, speak for themselves.”
“I didn't get hit very much," Garoppolo added in his postgame presser. “Felt great coming out of this game. When the O-Line plays like that, it sets the tone for our whole offense and they did it tonight.”
Viewers Sunday Night might derive some confidence in Garoppolo’s demeanor late in the game, as one could see him smiling in the huddle before a game-defining 3rd and 7 that saw Samuel plow his way through three defenders to a first down that allowed the Niners to kneel the ball and watch the clock count down as they closed out the contest.
“It’s just the physicality that I bring to the team and just the mindset that I have of not allowing one guy to bring me down, which is something I pride myself in,” Samuel said about the play. “When it was called, I was like, ‘We need a play right here’, and Kyle called it for a reason so I mean i go out there and do what they ask me to do.’
Raheem Mostert left the game with an ankle injury and was eventually unable to return, providing some more touches for Jerrick McKinnon and JaMycal Hasty, who was impressive after being called up from the practice squad this weekend with Jeff Wilson Jr. sustaining a calf injury during practice last week.
The defense for the 49ers went up against a very strong offense Sunday night, bending a little in the run game, but were able to keep the Rams out of the end zone for the most part when they did get in the red area.
On 4th and goal in the third quarter, CB Jason Verrett intercepted Los Angeles Rams QB Jared Goff for his first interception of the season and fifth of his career overall. Verrett was instrumental in the Niners win, playing solid coverage all day and leading by example for his teammates.
“Jason's a man out there,” Shanahan said. "The way he carries himself, the way he likes to mix it up. He loves playing football. He loves the physicality of the game and he's a great talent in terms of covering. I'm so pumped to have him on our team and I'm just happy for him that he's been able to get out there again.”
“JV, he's one of those guys, even if you get down on him, if he has a bad day or something like that, he has the mindset where he comes back the next day and he's ready to fight,” Garoppolo repeated. “That's what I really respect out of the guy. When a guy can do that on a day to day basis, he earns your trust as a teammate.”
With CB Emmanuel Mosely returning from concussion protocol, the 49ers got some of their identity back on defense, as the rest of the Niners secondary seemed to feed off of Mosely and Verrett, holding the Rams to 1-3 in the red zone.
The Faithful will be happy with the team’s response to getting embarrassed at home last week vs Miami, and the Niners will look to carry its newfound sense of urgency into the coming weeks full of tough opponents.
“Whenever guys are holding each other accountable, whenever guys hold themselves accountable, I think it's a good thing,” Garoppolo said about the team’s internal leadership. “The NFL’s hard. Not every week's going to be fun, not going to be pretty, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to find a way to get the W and then move on to next week. When the captains can have that mindset and we set the tone like that, I think it just trickles down to everyone else.”
As the 49ers continue to get players back from injury and develop their current roster, there may be hope for a playoff berth yet. Next Jimmy Garoppolo will return to his old stomping grounds as the 49ers get set to take on the Patriots in New England next Sunday at 1:25 PST.