49ers Still Own LA

The 49ers have two stadiums in California.  They played and won in their second stadium today.  49ers fans have outnumbered Rams fans almost two to one every game they have played since SoFi was built.  This has undoubtedly helped the 49ers win streak against the Sean McVay led Rams.

The 49ers drove the field and scored on their first offensive possession of the game.  When the defense hit the field, it became immediately apparent that this isn’t last year’s Rams squad.  Matthew Stafford was accurate with his reads and crisp with his throws.  Throughout the first half he dialed every known crossing route in the west coast offense.  The Niners defense struggled to stop the various drag routes thrown their way.  The Rams first drive netted a field goal.  After the Niners kicked their own field goal, the Rams struck gold on their second possession with a touchdown.

The Rams managed to score again right after the two-minute warning.  Down a touchdown, with a 1:45 on the clock, Brock Purdy was put to the two-minute offense test.  He executed beautifully.  First, he delivered to Deebo Samuel who took the ball up the sideline 23 yards with Juan Jennings lead blocking. Then, with a defender in his face, Purdy gets the ball to Christian McCaffrey on a swing pass and McCaffrey runs for a nine-yard gain.  McCaffrey took a handoff next, grinding out a first down run.  Then Purdy found Juan Jennings on a seam route for 20 yards.  The next play was an incomplete.  Then Purdy launched a pass into the end-zone towards Deebo who was being interfered with.  This penalty put the ball on the 1-yard line and Purdy eventually punched it in with 1 second left in the half.

The Niners had to make some second half adjustments on defense.  The Rams scored points on all three of their first half possessions.  The defense forced a punt on the Rams first possession of the second half.  Unfortunately, Purdy couldn’t connect with Jaun Jennings who was breaking free up the middle of the field on third down.

The defense started to dial up some pressure the next possession.  This eventually caused the inexperienced Ram line to commit a holding penalty, forcing a 1st and 20.  Matthew Stafford started pressing and he was slightly off target to Kyren Williams.  Isaiah Oliver was there to grab the tipped ball for a turnover.

The next Niners drive ended almost like the last one.  Purdy overthrew another receiver.  This time Deebo broke wide open, and Purdy was so excited that he overthrew his man.  Thankfully the Niners were in field goal range and Jake Moody banged home a 57 yarder.

The 49ers defense once again ended the Rams next possession.  This time on a 3rd and 10, Fred Warner came hot on a blitz sacking Stafford for a 10-yard loss.  Third time is the charm for Purdy.  He unleashed a 31-yard laser to Juan Jennings who was tackled immediately upon securing the ball.  It was a brilliant back shoulder pass to start their next drive.  While breaking a few ankles, Deebo ended the drive with an 11-yard touchdown run.

The Rams once again went back to what worked for them in the first half.  Matthew Stafford started carving up the defense again.  After a while, Coach Wilkes had enough and started dialing up the pressure.  The 49ers forced Stafford to intentionally ground the ball when the Rams were in the redzone (at least that is what the referee said).  This forced the Rams into a 2nd and 22-yard situation which eventually resulted in a field goal.

The 49ers offense started the next drive well.  However, on 3rd and 2, the Rams defense rushed Purdy’s throw and he missed a wide open Deebo on a slant route.  A few plays later, Deommodore Lenoir picked off Stafford, running it back 21 yards.  This outstanding defensive play set up the Niners last field goal of the game.

The 49ers defense struggled in the first half.  They were not prepared to deal with all of the various drag routes Coach McVay threw at them.  Coach Wilkes adjusted at halftime resulting in an outstanding second half defensive performance.  The main adjustment was commitment to bringing a fifth pass rusher while playing man cover two on the back end.  This adjustment resulted in multiple passes defensed, holding penalties, two interceptions, and a sack.

Puka Nacua is an impressive rookie.  He has managed to secure ten or more receptions and accumulate 100 or more yards in EACH of his first two games as a professional football player.  Today, he played with bruised ribs and still managed to haul in 15 receptions.  The 49ers are going to have to deal with him for many years to come.

Brock Purdy showed that while he has a great grasp of the offense, he still has areas to improve in.  Today he had two opportunities for big plays.  Like a hunter who sights in a 18 point buck, you have to slow your heart rate, think coolly, and react correctly or you will miss your shot.  Thankfully Brock self-assessed and was able to hit Jennings for a great 31-yard play.

Purdy battled thru adversity today.  He was in a must score 2-minute situation and executed well.  He had two overthrow’s that he bounced back from.  He also had to work thru significant pressure from the Rams defense.  Today was a confidence booster for him.  He also put somethings on tape for him to work on.

Coach Shanahan remains committed to the run.  He didn’t mix in Jordan Mason or Elijah Mitchell.  Instead, it was all Deebo Samuel and Christian McCaffrey.  Brock distributed the ball well to all the playmakers, including Juan Jennings.  Brandon Aiyuk was hurt today, but he still managed to make a positive impact on the field.  Hopefully he will get the rest needed to hit the field again.  He may not play on Thursday.  The Niners can afford to rest him given all of their playmakers on the roster.

The 49ers have managed to score 30 points in each of their first two games.  They will host a Giants squad who is riding high on their road victory over the Cardinals.

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