Grading 49ers' offense, defense in crucial Week 4 win over Rams originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SANTA CLARA -- It was a long week around these parts, and not just because the 49ers returned to action in Week 4 on Monday Night Football.
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers’ offense was coming off a miserable performance.
And, yes, Garoppolo admitted the long week seemed even longer after that performance a week earlier in Denver.
“Hell, yeah,” Garoppolo said. “But when you go through a tough week like that, it makes this feel a lot better at the end.”
The 49ers put together a solid all-around showing in the team’s 24-9 victory over the Los Angeles Rams at Levi’s Stadium.
Now, the 49ers are one of four teams in the NFC West with a record of 2-2. And they are the only team without a loss within the division.
“I was real happy overall for our whole team,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “It was a cool way to win. We knew it would be a battle. To keep them out of the end zone was great.”
Now, onto the grades . . .
The 49ers did not rely on the running game as they have in the past against the Rams.
The 49ers had 22 running plays compared to 27 passing attempts.
Running back Jeff Wilson got most of the work with 18 carries for 74 yards.
Included in Wilson's total was a 32-yard touchdown run in the first quarter that gave the 49ers a lead they would never relinquish.
That play featured good blocking up front with guard Aaron Banks also reaching the second level for a key block.
The offense line provided Garoppolo with good protection, and he rebounded nicely from what was probably his worst game with the franchise.
Garoppolo completed 16 of 27 pass attempts for 239 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. He was not sacked in the game.
Deebo Samuel provided the offensive highlight when he took a wide receiver screen, made a Rams defender miss, picked up some monster blocks down field, ran over Rams All-Pro defensive back Jalen Ramsey and cruised into the end zone for a 57-yard scoring play.
The 49ers were much better on third downs, converting five of 12 tries.
The 49ers’ run defense continues to be lights-out.
The Rams’ top two running backs, Darrell Henderson and Cam Akers, combined for just 40 yards on 15 rushing attempts for a 2.7-yard average.
As a unit, the 49ers held the Rams to just 57 yards rushing.
Linebacker Dre Greenlaw was all over the field with 15 tackles. Fred Warner added nine tackles.
The 49ers had difficulty closing out a couple of should-be wins against the Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos.
They had no such issues on Monday night against the Rams.
Safety Talanoa Hufanga provided the clinching play when he stepped in front of Cooper Kupp to intercept a Matthew Stafford pass. Hufanga took it all the way back for a 52-yard interception return.
The play gave the 49ers an insurmountable 15-point lead with 6:27 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The 49ers also sacked Stafford seven times, with Nick Bosa and Samson Ebukam registering two apiece.
Stafford targeted Kupp on 19 passes. Kupp had 14 receptions for 122 yards. That sounds good, but it’s not as impressive when you consider the Rams averaged just 6.4 yards when throwing to Kupp.
The Rams were held without a touchdown for the first time since late in the 2020 season.
It was not a great night for special teams.
Punter Mitch Wishnowsky, the NFC’s Special Teams Player of the Month, had a net average of just 34.5 yards on four punts. The Rams’ Riley Dixon, in comparison, had a 48.8 net average.
Kicker Robbie Gould made a 25-yard field goal but missed wide left from 42 yards.
Return man Ray-Ray McCloud fumbled a return for the second game in a row. But, again, the 49ers recovered it to avoid a giveaway.
Shanahan and defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans had it going on Monday night.
The 49ers’ offense was far more efficient and did not turn the ball over.
Ryans’ unit really controlled the game. The 49ers registered seven sacks and played a bend-but-don’t-break defense.
The Rams put together long drives that lasted 14, 10, 16 and 13 plays. But the 49ers forced them to settle for three field goals.
Shanahan created a lot of opportunities for the offense. There were some misses, but they cashed in enough times to win handily.
It was much too early in the season to consider this a must win, but there’s no denying this was a biggie for the 49ers.
It was a well-rounded game against a team that has a lot of talent and is coming off a Super Bowl title.
Shanahan's team responded with an impressive victory that proves the 49ers are fully capable of being a contender in the NFC.