It didn’t start out too swimmingly for the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday as they attempted to go 5-0 against the Los Angeles Rams. The defending conference champs drove down the field 56 yards for a touchdown on their opening possession.
Los Angeles would rack up less than 110 yards and zero points through the remainder of the game, as the 49ers’ defense showed itself to be the most dominant in the NFL.
Jared Goff tallied 56 net passing yards on 24 attempts. He was sacked four times and pressured on more than 75% of his drop backs. The quarterback also completed a total of one pass for 10-plus yards in the game.
Despite a less-than-stellar performance from Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers’ offense, this was enough for San Francisco to come out on top by the score of 20-7.
Here are our top takeaways from this statement victory.
Jimmy Garoppolo Still Has Work To Do
For the most part, Garoppolo was in rhythm against the Rams on Sunday. He completed 24-of-33 passes for 243 yards. Unfortunately, the quarterback also turned it over twice.
The first one came with San Francisco looking to take a 14-7 lead in the second quarter. Garoppolo threw a horrible interception in the end zone. Then, with the 49ers up 13 late in the game, Garoppolo lost a fumble. This set Los Angeles up inside the 49ers’ 40-yard line. That’s when the defense bailed Garoppolo out once again.
San Francisco has a nice margin for error with how well its defense is playing. But Garoppolo has to stop making these rookie mistakes if the team wants to be considered legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
Have A Day Defense
The Rams came into Sunday’s game having averaged north of 410 total yards and 31 points in two-plus seasons under Sean McVay. Their offense responded by putting up the worst performance we’ve seen under McVay.
Not only did Goff throw for just 56 yards, Los Angeles was a combined 0-for-13 on third and fourth-down opportunities. Cooper Kupp and Brandin Cooks combined for 35 yards on nine targets. Defensive backs such as Jimmie Ward and Emmanuel Moseley came to play big time.
Once San Francisco opened up a two-score lead, it was all about the game’s best defensive line doing its thing. That included four sacks of Goff. The quarterback was also pressured on 75% of his drop backs.
It now goes without saying that San Francisco’s defense is championship-caliber. What we saw from this unit on Sunday was nothing short of ridiculous.
Backup Tackles Pass Test
We were pretty concerned over how youngsters Justin Skule and Daniel Brunskill would play with the 49ers’ two starting tackles out. Both exceeded expectations in a big way. Skule allowed a sack early on, but was flawless from that point on. Meanwhile, San Francisco did well to shade protection over to Brunskill’s side on the right side of the line. He played well within the confines of the game.
This is no small thing. Left tackle Joe Staley is slated to return within the next couple weeks. Mike McGlinchey is out for at least the next three games. The good news here is that San Francisco’s pass protection held up in a big way.
Much Better Game From Dante Pettis
Given how much Pettis and fellow youngster Deebo Samuel struggled last week, we were concerned that they’d let Garoppolo down again on Sunday. At least when it comes to Pettis, that was not the case. He caught just 3-of-6 targets for 45 yards, but two of those catches came on third down and moved the sticks. That’s no small thing. The hope here is that Pettis has turned the corner after catching a combined six passes over the first four games.
George Kittle Is A Freak
There’s now little question whether Kittle is the best all-around tight end in the NFL. He proved this in more ways than one, both catching passes and blocking, against the Rams. The Pro Bowler hauled in all eight of his targets for 103 yards in the win. He consistently moved the chains in helping the 49ers convert on 8-of-17 third-down opportunities. We’re running out of words to explain just how darn good this third-year tight end is.
Robert Saleh was absolutely dominant going up against a genius offensive mind in that of Sean McVay. Everything he called turned to gold in yet another tremendous performance from the 49ers’ defense. Give Saleh the players, and he’ll look great. He was also firing up his defense throughout the game. It’s great to see.
Multiple 49ers players went down to injury on Sunday in what has been a continuing theme for the team. Richard Sherman exited for a bit with a stinger, but was able to return to the field. K’Waun Williams is dealing with a hamstring injury. Wide receiver Deebo Samuel exited in the second half with what Kyle Shanahan believes is a quad injury.
That’s the bad news. The good news? None of the injuries looked to be too serious. Having already had their bye week, that’s no small thing. San Francisco needs all hands on deck with the plethora of players that are currently sidelined.
He might have only been credited with one tackle and zero quarterback hits, but Nick Bosa’s presence was felt throughout the game. Los Angeles consistently double teamed the rookie. It opened up pass-rush lanes for Dee Ford on the other side and a long the interior of San Francisco’s defensive line.
Ford recorded 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Finally seeing action inside, Solomon Thomas had a huge sack in the third quarter. Meanwhile, pressure from Bosa led directly to a Ronald Blair sack in the first half. Sacks are sexy, but there’s so much more to being an impact defender. Bosa’s performance on Sunday magnified this.