49ers Smother Rams

Though the entire NFC West sits at 2-2, the 49ers are on top of the division with wins against the Seahawks and the Rams.  The 49ers played complimentary football on Monday Night Football.  Special teams put the Niners in good field position throughout the game.  Though the offense was not perfect, they were good enough to get the win. Lastly the defense set the tone for victory by smothering the Rams offense.


According to Deebo Samuel, the 49ers focused on 3rd down at practice this week.  They still need to focus on it considering they only converted five of twelve 3rd downs.  However, early in the game, Jimmy Garoppolo was able to string together two drives by converting on third downs.  In fact, Deebo’s 57-yard touchdown run was a third down play.  Juan Jennings caught two passes to convert 3rd downs but dropped two more.  Jennings needs to spend some time on the jugs machine because he knows how to get open.


This week I saw multiple fan posts criticizing Kyle Shanahan and his play calling.  Yet, Monday Night Football was a master class in offensive play calling for those that were paying attention.  Shanahan’s play calling routinely pops multiple receivers open.  It is up to Jimmy G to find them.  He missed a few open receivers.  Thankfully, hitting 16 targets out of 27 was good enough to win.  To be fair, not all the misses were Jimmy G’s fault.  Juan Jennings, Ross Dwelly, Charlie Woerner and Ray Ray McCloud had some ugly drops on catchable balls.  Conversely Deebo caught six of seven targets and Brandon Aiyuk caught all four passes launched his way.  Seventy of Deebo’s 116 reception yards came on two explosive yard after catch plays.  Deebo is the spark that moves the Niner offense at the moment.

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) runs toward the end zone to score against the Los Angeles Rams during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

Jimmy Garoppolo does not win games by himself.  He isn’t Tom Brady or Patrick Mahomes.  He needs help.  Studs like Deebo, George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk make life easier for him with their consistent yards after catch.  Coach Shanahan’s play calling helps Jimmy G out tremendously.  First there was a healthy mix of running the ball.  Second, Shanahan dialed up quick pass plays to help the Niners offensive line out.  The 49ers came into the game without left tackle Trent Williams.  Colton McKivitz came in and was serviceable until he went down with a knee injury.  Jaylen Moore came in, and Coach Shanahan focused on running the ball.  Moore was a liability in pass protection last week, so the play calling had to protect Moore and Jimmy G.  When a pass play was called it was a quick out or a quick slant.  Overall, it is a testament to Shanahan’s play calling that the Rams failed to sack Jimmy G.  The Rams pressured Jimmy G a few times, but they never got him to the ground.  Shanahan called plays in such a way for the offensive line to give Jimmy G the maximum opportunity to complete a throw.


In Shanahan’s system, plays and play calling builds on each other.  When an injury occurs, he must adjust his plays to match the strengths and weaknesses of his offense.  The offense sputters when one of two things happens.  First, when Shanahan lacks a contingency plan for an unforeseen circumstance the offense stalls.  Second, the offense sputters when Jimmy G is consistently frustrated.  Neither of those things occurred on Monday Night Football.  Coach Shanahan was ready for his left tackle to go down and immediately adjusted his play calling to match a potential weakness.  Jimmy G executed the offense well enough to score enough points to win.

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan watches from the sideline during the second half of his team’s NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

The real heroes of the night is the San Francisco Defense.  If the 49ers are to return to the playoffs, it will be on the strength of the defense.  The Niners sacked Matthew Stafford six times and pressured him at least another 11 plays.  The Niners also forced two turnovers.   Finally, the Niners prevented the Rams from scoring a touchdown while sealing the game with a touchdown of their own.  Talanoa Hufanga iced the game when he jumped a Cooper Kupp out route, snagged an interception and sprinted 52 yards for the touchdown.  Hufanga has been spending a lot of time with Troy Polamalu.  It is paying off for the budding second year star.

San Francisco 49ers safety Talanoa Hufanga, right, returns an interception for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

Enough cannot be said about the job Kris Kocurek and DeMeco Ryans does to get the defense ready to play every week.  Samson Ebukam, Nick Bosa, Hassan Ridgeway and nickleback Demmoodore Lenoir all logged sacks against the Rams on Monday Night.  Ebukam forced Stafford to fumble on one of his sacks and Kerry Hyder recovered it.  All of the defensive backs had pass deflections.  Lastly, Rookie Drake Jackson flashes on the screen.  He had multiple pressures against Stafford and tipped one of his passes at the line of scrimmage.  The 49er defense swarms and attacks opposing offenses.  They are a force to be reckoned with.


Ultimately stars like Nick Bosa, Deebo Samuel, Fred Warner, Talanoa Hufanga and George Kittle are the leaders of this team.  The team will go as they go.  For now the 49ers ready themselves for the Carolina Panthers next Sunday afternoon.

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