What a difference a week makes. Coming off an embarrassing 43-17 loss at the hands of the Miami Dolphins and ‘Fitzmagic,’ the 49ers answered back in the best way possible; by earning a gutsy victory over their NFC West rivals, the LA Rams, 24-16.
The Tale of the Game
The 49ers were clearly out to send a message early on. Kyle Shanahan reminded the rest of the NFL that he’s the best offensive mind in football by scripting a perfect opening drive that ended in a Deebo Samuel touchdown on a reverse.
The aim to prove a point emanated from every facet of the 49ers as the defense stepped up big, holding the Rams to six first-half points. Jared Goff enjoyed his worst game of the season against a hobbled yet highly motivated defense.
By the end of the first half, the 49ers had put up 21 points to the Rams’ six. Jimmy Garoppolo threw his second touchdown on a 4th & 2, recognizing the cover zero blitz and hitting George Kittle, the YAC God, in stride for the touchdown.
Garoppolo’s third and final touchdown came at the twilight of the first half. After nearly throwing a pick-six on a questionable play call by Shanahan, the former Patriot stayed calm, cool, and collected and delivered a strike to Brandon Aiyuk for the score.
The offense stalled out in the second half. A third-down drop and a missed block killed various Niner drives. However, the defense, particularly the cornerbacks Emmanuel Moseley and Jason Verrett, stepped up in a big way.
Dre Greenlaw prevented a surefire touchdown on third & goal before Jason Verrett picked off Jared Goff in the endzone on fourth & goal. Although the game was far from over, that stop was pivotal in the Niners’ success—both literally and in a metaphorical sense.
Via a series of successful runs by UDFA rookie JaMycal Hasty and a game-sealing first down rush by Deebo Samuel, the 49ers were able to kneel on the ball and secure a gutsy and crucial victory 24-16.
Offensive Players of the Week
Jimmy Garoppolo proved that he has the mentality to succeed at the franchise level last night. After being benched at half-time against the Dolphins (due to injury and bad quarterbacking), Garoppolo bounced back against the Rams. Jimmy G threw for 268 yards with a 69% completion percentage and three touchdowns.
Although Garoppolo’s average completed air yards was only 2.0 yards per attempt, the 49ers quarterback played within the system, executing perfectly and orchestrated a nice clean game. Garoppolo knew who he was up against in Aaron Donald and got the ball out early and often.
The Offensive Line
The 49ers offensive line has been one of the worst pass-blocking units in the NFL. When adjusted for play-time, before Week Six, Garoppolo was the second-most sacked quarterback in the league.
It appears that the offensive line heard the criticism and came out with a point to prove against Aaron Donald and the Rams. On a macro-level, the line gave up no sacks, just two pressures to Donald all night and none to any other Ram defender.
Per The Athletic’s David Lombardi, Garoppolo told Deebo not to go out of bounds before the game-clinching run on 3rd down. Deebo responded, “I never go out of bounds anyway. Jimmy, I got you.”
Samuel opened the game by scoring the initial touchdown, and he sealed the game by securing the final first down. After a slow return off of a Jones Fracture in his foot, Samuel finally looked himself last night. The sophomore stud recorded 66 yards receiving, 6 catches on 6 targets, and a touchdown.
A receiver corps of Kittle, Samuel and Aiyuk is the most potent in the NFL.
Defensive Players of the Week
Jason Verrett is amassing a serious case for comeback player of the year. The former Charger grabbed his first interception since 2016 against the Rams on a crucial 4th & Goal stop. Moreover, Verrett has been a source of light on a 49ers cornerback unit that has otherwise been abhorrent.
E-Man had missed two weeks in a row with a nasty concussion injury sustained against the Giants in Week Three. In his absence, Dontae Johnson gave up a game-winning touchdown against the Eagles, and Brian Allen gave up 21 points all by himself against the Dolphins.
Moseley may not have had the cleanest game in the world, giving up a big touchdown reception late on, but his presence was sorely missed in the 49ers secondary.
What else is there to say about Fred Warner? If Bobby Wagner did not exist, Warner would convincingly be the best mike linebacker in the NFL. While Wagner exists, Warner is still the best mike linebacker in the NFL, but it’s less convincing.
With that in mind, Warner is the leader of this defense and, despite being only 23, brings a veteran type presence to the team. On the gridiron, Warner is sideline to sideline on every single play. Predicting plays before they happen and meeting running backs in the hole play after play. This guy might be the second coming of Luke Kuechly.
Onto New England…
If the 49ers achieve anything of note this season, we will look back and declare this Week Six victory the moment where everything changed.
Now, a trip to Boston awaits Shanahan and co. with a bout against an angry Bill Belichick coming off a loss. However, this Pats team is not like the ones of old. Time for the 49ers to carry on their gauntlet run with another victory.
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