CMC’s 3 TDs Lead 49ers to Victory!

Christian McCaffrey has joined the 49ers at just the right time.    With Deebo Samuel and Kyle Juszczyk out, CMC stepped in and led the team to victory.  McCaffrey passed for a touchdown, ran for a touchdown, and caught a touchdown reception.  The last player to accomplish the touchdown triple crown was hall-of-famer LaDainian Tomlinson.  McCaffery looks reinvigorated in a Niner uniform.  He has certaintly reinvigorated this 49er offense.  McCaffrey played a significant role in Kyle Shanahan’s eighth consecutive regular season victory against Sean McVay and the Rams.


The Situation

The Rams were coming off a bye week sitting at 3-3 while the 49ers were 3-4 looking forward to their bye week.  The 49ers had just come off two devastating losses against the Falcons and the Chiefs, wondering if they could right the ship.  As the game started, many fans wondered how the Niners might fair without Deebo, Juice, Dre Greenlaw, Arik Armstead and Juan Jennings.  Would McCaffrey be ready to go?  Is Jimmy G finally settling down in the offense?  Those questions were answered and more.  However, the game didn’t start off well for the 49ers.


Early Game Woes

After the Niners and Rams traded punts, the Rams proceeded to execute a 17 play touchdown drive taking up the remaining nine minutes left in the first quarter.  The drive should have been over much earlier, however the 49er defense kept committing penalty after penalty allowing the Rams multiple opportunities to score.  The Rams actually had three different first and goals on this same drive due to 49ers defensive penalties.  The 49ers had them stopped and would have forced a field goal but for an unneeded defensive holding call.

San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey, left, passes for a touchdown on a trick play during the first half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

The 49ers knew they needed to answer.  Five plays later they did.  Coach Shanahan dialed up a perfectly executed double pass.  Jimmy G threw the ball to McCaffrey who was to Jimmy’s right behind the line of scrimmage.  Brandon Aiyuk sold the run block and then took off, running under McCaffrey’s throw for a touchdown.  The Rams offense was finally in rhythm and they proceeded to continue to throw their list of screen plays.  I counted a total of nine different screen plays Coach McVay dialed up against the Niners in the first half of the game.  If they weren’t throwing a screen, they baited the Niners defense to over pursue on play action and would hit them deep like the Cooper Kupp touchdown to put them up 14 -7.  The Rams would dial up medium to deep routes on 2nd and 2 when they knew the Niner defense would concentrate on the run.  This tactic paid off early for the Rams.

The 49ers were not to be deterred.  Coach Shanahan skillfully managed the clock, while Jimmy G marched his team down the field to set themselves up for a field goal.  With the score 10-14, the Niners came out at half time, received the ball and punted five plays later.  It was frustrating to watch.  Then the defense woke up.  They forced their second punt of the game giving the Niners the chance to finally take the lead on the Rams.  The 49ers capitalized, ending the drive with a nine-yard touchdown reception by McCaffrey.  This drive was a mixture of Jeff Wilson and Christian McCaffrey running the ball with a few key receptions made by Brandon Aiyuk and Tyler Kroft.


Second Half McCaffrey Greatness

The Niners defense was motivated by the electric score and came out forcing a three and out.  Five plays later and Christian McCaffrey ran the ball in for a touchdown.  The Niners were now up 24-14.  The Niners defense stood tall for the most part during the next Rams possession.  Had Tyler Higbee caught the third down ball he dropped, he might still be running for the end zone.

In game’s and years past the 49ers have had issues with leaning on the lead.  Today’s game is one of the few times I have seen the 49ers in recent years lean on the opposition and submit them.  During the second play of this Niners offensive possession, Jimmy G found Ross Dwelly running free and deep for a 56-yard reception setting up their next score.  Jimmy G found George Kittle for a 7 yard touchdown to cap off the afternoon.  Jimmy was a bit late on the throw.  Frankly, I think Kittle should have sat down in the wide-open space he ran thru in the end zone.  Still, Jimmy G threw it where Kittle had to high point it and they scored.  The Niners pass rush would not be stopped and Nick Bosa collected his 8th sack of the season effectively closing the game out.

San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey runs the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

The McCaffrey Effect

This game is a preview of things to come.  McCaffrey is purpose built for Kyle Shanahan and Jimmy G.  When the pass play broke down, Jimmy could find McCaffrey and he would make something positive happen.  CMC is constantly moving.  However, his constant movement was always in the quarterback’s vision allowing him to always have an outlet in case the designed play broke down.  There were many designed plays to McCaffrey, however there were quite a few unscripted plays to him as well.  McCaffrey is the reason Jimmy G was so efficient today. He connected on 21 of 25 throws for 235 yards and two touchdowns.  Eight of those receptions were caught by McCaffrey.   Jimmy G took three sacks but that is a product of the line breaking down, not a product of him holding the ball for too long.  Jimmy G was very fortunate on two over the middle plays where Jalen Ramsey dropped two would be interceptions.  Those plays will get cleaned up over the bye week.


Still a Team Victory

A lot of credit must be given to Ross Dwelly as he effectively stood in for Juice.  He blocked well and when his number was called, he caught the long ball thrown to him.  Brandon Aiyuk continues his excellent break out season juking and jiving opposing players out of their shoes.  The defense struggled a little bit early, but they cleaned it up and did not allow any second half points. Finally, credit must be given to the faithful.  The 49ers fans outnumbered Rams fans at least four to one today.  It was a sea of red in Sofi.  That is great motivation for the team as they struggled and battled early in today’s game.

The bye could not have come at a better time for the 49ers.  They go into the bye with a win hoping to get more of their roster healed up and ready for the second half of the season.  This will also give more time for CMC to integrate into the offense.  Coach Shanahan has a lot to work with.

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