It’s now or never for the 49ers. A beaten-down San Francisco (3-3) team in search of a new identity welcomed the division-rival Los Angeles Rams (4-2) to Levi’s Stadium for the first of a very difficult stretch of games.
After the worst start of his career in Week 5, Jimmy Garoppolo (23-of-33, 268 yards, 3 TDs) bounced back in a 24-16 win over the Rams Sunday night.http://gty.im/1280991682
A big night from George Kittle (7 receptions, 109 yards, 1 TD) and a combined 122 yards rushing helped round out the 49ers offense while their defense dominated the Rams from start to finish.
Garoppolo and the 49ers offense was horrendous in Week 5, which led to the benching of the star quarterback at halftime. In Week 6, another week of practice, and a healthier Garoppolo, has the 49ers fired up for a bounce-back performance in prime time.
The Rams kicked off to begin Sunday Night Football. The 49ers began their first drive from their own 24-yard line.
Raheem Mostert carried for five yards on the first play of the drive. A pitch to WR Deebo Samuel was ran up-field for a gain of 35 yards into Rams territory. Two plays later, a screen pass to WR Brandon Aiyuk gave the 49ers a first down to the Rams 24-yard line.
A short pass to Kittle who stumbled his way to the 6-yard line gave the 49ers another first down. A forward pitch to Samuel and a run to the pylon gave the 49ers their first touchdown.
Garoppolo discussed this toss play to Samuel that resulted in the first score of the game:
“It’s a different kind of play, but it’s all around the NFL now. Deebo, i think he’s the best in the league at it. He runs like a running back, has moves like a receiver. It’s unique what he can do with the ball in his hands.”
We haven’t seen a drive like that from the 49ers in weeks. A creative, short-pass style offense from Kyle Shanahan put the 49ers in the driver’s seat early with a 7-0 lead.
QB Jared Goff and the Rams offense began their first drive from their own 25-yard line.
A 17-yard pass to TE Tyler Higbee gave the Rams a first down near mid-field. An incomplete pass, a short run snuffed out by the 49ers defense, and an incomplete pass on third down forced a Rams punt. A good showing from the 49ers on both sides of the ball so far.
The 49ers second drive began from their own 10-yard line. Mostert carried twice, which brought up 3rd-and-1. Garoppolo dove forward to pick up the first down.
After a very rough two games against the Dolphins and Eagles, the 49ers offensive line bounced back in a big way Sunday night against a ferocious Rams defensive line.
49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan was pleased with what he saw:
“I thought the offensive line had a hell of a game. I thought they cleared a bunch of good lanes for our backs, they protected very well against a good front. The results i think speak for themselves, i think they did a hell of a job.”
A short run from Mostert and an incompletion to Kittle resulted in 3rd-and-7. A dump-off pass to Jerick McKinnon was well short of the first down. A punt for the 49ers.
3rd-and-8 for the Rams after an incompletion and a run for a short gain. A great read on the ball from 49ers CB Jason Verrett who broke up the pass, forcing a Rams punt.
49ers DL Arik Armstead discussed the importance of having both Verrett and Emmanuel Moseley back from injury, and what that does for the defense:
“It’s huge, those guys know the scheme. They know how to execute the game plan that [Robert Saleh] puts together. On the back-end, having those guys, theres a lot of communication going on when you’re out there covering all those route-trees. Having guys with continuity in the back end is huge who can execute at a high level.”
The 49ers offense began their third drive from their own 13-yard line. Mostert carried for a short gain, but the 49ers were penalized for holding. Backed up to their own 7-yard line, a big run from Mostert for 15 yards gave the offense some breathing room.
A run with Mostert was followed by a pass to Mostert for seven yards. A pass to Kittle gave the 49ers a first down at the 36-yard line. Garoppolo completed a pass to Kyle Juszczyk for a gain of eight yards.
A short run with McKinnon gave the 49ers a first down. A run with Mostert and a short pass to Samuel brought up 3rd-and-5 for the 49ers. That brought an end to the first quarter.
Mostert carried for a gain of three yards. On 4th-and-2 a pass over the middle to Kittle resulted in a big play, a 44-yard touchdown to give the 49ers a 14-0 lead after the extra point.
Kittle was asked about his touchdown, and if the play was designed for him. Garoppolo was in the room with him, and he asked his quarterback for confirmation:
“Jimmy was that for me? He says yes. It was perfect coverage, they zero-blitzed it. Nobody in the middle of the field, we had the right call on. Shoutout to coach Shanahan for that. At the end of the day, it was just me and Jimmy having to play pitch and catch.”
The 49ers kicking team was called for a horse-collar tackle, resulting in a 15-yard penalty. The Rams began from their own 36-yard line.
Goff scrambled on 3rd-and-9 for a Rams first down at mid-field. Two plays later a big run from RB Darrell Henderson gave the Rams a first down in 49ers territory. An offsides penalty called on the 49ers tacked on additional yardage.
Two running plays with WR Robert Woods gave the Rams a first down at the 49ers 19-yard line. Henderson carried for another first down to the 49ers 8-yard line.
A holding penalty called on the Rams backed their offense up to the 13-yard line. A short pass resulted in a 3rd-and-goal for Goff and the Rams. An impressive diving catch to Woods scored the Rams’ first touchdown of the night. The 49ers led 14-6 after the missed extra point.
The 49ers began their next drive from the 25-yard line. Two carries with Mostert and the 49ers had a quick first down. Two more runs with Mostert but a holding penalty on the 49ers wiped out what would have been another first down.
On 2nd-and-18 a pass over the middle to Kendrick Bourne gave the 49ers a first down at their own 49-yard line. A second consecutive pass to Bourne gave the 49ers another first down at the Rams 26-yard line. 44 yards on two catches for Bourne.
Garoppolo certainly looked a lot better this week than he did last week, but how did the ankle feel? After it hindered his performance last week, Garoppolo felt better, and it showed. He said:
“The ankle has made improvements this week. I could lean on it a little bit more, i was able to move in the pocket a little bit. I was able to be myself this week. It started with a good week of practice, and i have to thank the medical staff for doing their part.”
Two short runs from Mostert resulted in a 3rd-and-7 on which Garoppolo completed a first down pass to Trent Taylor. Two plays later, the 49ers called timeout with 2:27 remaining in the first half.
On 2nd-and-7, a run with Mostert was a yard short of the first down. The Rams were called for a penalty, resulting in a 49ers first down from the 3-yard line.
Mostert inched his way towards the goal line for a gain of one yard. An incomplete pass to Taylor and the 49ers were faced with 3nd-and-2 from the 2-yard line.
Garoppolo fired a missile to Aiyuk for his third touchdown pass of the game. With 1:47 left in the first half, the 49ers led 21-6.
The Rams began their next drive from their 25-yard line. A short completion over the middle, followed by an incomplete pass and a false-start penalty called on the Rams brought up 3rd-and-7. Goff completed a pass to Cooper Kupp that fell short of the first down. The 49ers got the ball back with 1:09 left in the half after a Rams punt.
The 49ers final drive before the half. On the first play, a toss to Samuel for a first down was quickly followed by two short completions and another 49ers first down with 23 seconds left.
Two incompletions and a run to end the first half sent this game into halftime.
Overall a night-and-day difference from the 49ers in the first half of Week 6 compared to the first half of Week 5 against the Dolphins. The defense was stellar, and the offense was crisp, efficient and bullied their way down the field over and over again.
First half stats
- Garoppolo: 17-for-21, 215 yards, 3 TDs
- Mostert: 16 carries, 64 yards, 2 receptions, 11 yards
- Kittle: 4 receptions, 73 yards, 1 TD
- Samuel: 4 receptions, 57 yards, 1 TD
Kicking off to begin the game, the Rams were set to receive the second half opening kickoff.
Starting from their own 29-yard line, Goff fired a pass deep to Higbee for a gain of 31 yards to the 49ers 40-yard line. Two plays later, a pass to Woods gave the Rams another first down at the 49ers 28-yard line.
On 3rd-and-1 from the 19-yard line, a false start penalty called on the Rams brought up 3rd-and-6. An incomplete pass forced a field goal attempt. After a rough start to that drive, the 49ers defense did a very nice job in limiting the Rams to a field goal, making it a 21-9 game.
A 3rd-and-11 for the 49ers after two plays that went nowhere. Garoppolo was pressured, resulting in an incompletion and a 49ers punt.
On that drive, Mostert exited with an ankle injury. He would not return.
The Rams began their next drive from their 37-yard line. Two plays for no gain resulted in 3rd-and-9. A penalty called on the 49ers resulted in 3rd-and-4. A deep pass to Kupp fell incomplete, forcing a Rams punt.
Garoppolo and the 49ers got another shot at adding on to their lead, starting at the 13-yard line. Two running plays, one resulting in a loss of six yards, brought up 3rd-and-11 for the 49ers.
A pass to McKinnon short of the first down forced another 49ers punt. So far the 49ers offense in the third quarter has been abysmal.
The Rams ran for a first down to mid-field on the first play of the drive. Henderson carried for another first down to the 49ers 38-yard line. He continued to gash the 49ers defense up the middle. A gain of nine yards gave the Rams a red-zone opportunity.
More runs with Henderson down to the 49ers 1-yard line. On 3rd-and-2, an incompletion brought up 4th down from the goal line. The Rams offense stayed on the field, and the 49ers came down with a huge interception.
Jason Verrett discussed his huge interception:
“I knew i was going to get a flat-route by [Robert Woods] because we were in man-to-man. Once he widened himself, i had vision back on the quarterback, i was reading [Jared Goff] and i just made a play on it.”
In the corner of the end zone, Verrett picked off Goff, resulting in a touchback. The 49ers defense once again coming up big.
Garoppolo and the offense took over at the 25-yard line. A pass to Kittle over the middle picked up 18-yards and a first down. McKinnon carried twice, and the 49ers were faced with 3rd-and-4.
An incomplete pass resulted in a third-consecutive punt. The 49ers offense continued to struggle as time ran out in the 3rd quarter.
The Rams began their next drive from the 14-yard line as the 3rd quarter officially came to a close. The 49ers carried a 21-9 lead into the 4th quarter.
Two plays and a first down for the Rams at their 37-yard line. Two incomplete passes later, and the Rams faced 3rd-and-10. Could the 49ers defense do it again?
Yes they can. A false start penalty on the Rams resulted in an incomplete pass on 3rd-and-15. The 49ers forced another punt.
The 49ers offense needed a score here to help put this game away. Rookie RB Jamycal Hasty entered the game to try and restart the 49ers rushing attack. He carried for nine yards on the first play and picked up the first down on his second attempt.
Another run with Hasty and a pass to Kittle and the 49ers were at midfield with a first down. A short run followed by an incomplete pass brought up 3rd-and-6. An incomplete pass to Kittle forced a 49ers punt, still unable to get it done.
The 49ers punt team pinned the Rams at their own 1-yard line. Back-to-back incompletions to start the drive brought up 3rd-and-10 for the Rams. A third straight incompletion forced another Rams punt. The 49ers defense continues its dominance.
Shanahan discussed how pleased he was with the 49ers defense:
“It was awesome getting [Emmanuel Moseley] back and having more of our crew there in the secondary. I think the guys fed off it. We went against a very good offense, very good team. We bent a bit in some of the run game, but the way we played in the red-zone, keeping them out of there. I would’ve loved for us to not give up that touchdown on that real deep play, but besides that i thought the guys were pretty flawless.”
Garoppolo and the offense took over at the 49-yard line following the punt with 8:41 remaining in the game.
A short run with Hasty and an incompletion from Garoppolo brought up 3rd-and-8. A pass to Kittle gave them a first down at the Rams 38-yard line.
Two plays later the 49ers faced third down once more. A scrambled from Garoppolo fell short of a first down. On 4th-and-3 a field goal from Robbie Gould gave the 49ers a 24-9 lead with 5:26 left in the game.
The Rams picked up two first downs, moving them to midfield with just over 4:00 remaining. A deep touchdown pass to Josh Reynolds cut the 49ers lead to 24-16 following the extra point. A sense of urgency for the 49ers now with 3:24 still remaining.
Hasty carried for a first down on the first play. Two short runs from Hasty and the 49ers faced 3rd-and-7 as the two-minute warning hit.
A pass to Samuel sealed this game. The first down allowed for the 49ers to drain the rest of the clock with kneel-downs after the Rams using up all of their timeouts.
After two rough losses, the 49ers are back on track with a huge win over their division rival.
Following the 49ers win over the Rams, they will head on the road for a matchup with the New England Patriots (2-3) who are coming off a disappointing loss to the Denver Broncos in Week 6.
Taylor Wirth is SFBay’s San Francisco 49ers beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @WirthTM on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of 49ers football.