49ers report card: Defense dominant in win over Rams

SANTA CLARA — Here is how the 49ers (2-2) graded in Monday night’s 24-9 home win over the Los Angeles Rams (2-2):


Jimmy Garoppolo once again rebounded from a bad outing, and while he did so without committing a turnover, he also did not get sacked. The ever-scrutinized, ever-youthful line allowed only one hit on Garoppolo, and that was by Aaron Donald, who again got neutered by this team. Garoppolo was 16-of-27 for 239 yards, with nearly half that production coming from Deebo Samuel (six catches, 115 yards, with a 57-yard touchdown in the twilight). Brandon Aiyuk caught all four of his targets, but for just 37 yards on this game plan’s quick throws. George Kittle (2 catches, 4 targets, 24 yards) remains a frustrating afterthought, but keep in mind he missed the first two games with a groin injury and also had to help block a lot. Jauan Jennings had a third-down conversion but also a third-down drop. Kyle Juzczyk opened a scoring drive with a 35-yard catch.


No, this wasn’t the 40-plus carry game that triggered last year’s home win over the Rams. Instead, the 49ers had just 22 carries (88 yards). None was bigger than Jeff Wilson Jr.’s 32-yard touchdown run for a 7-3 lead. He had 18 of their 22 carries, thus keeping Jordan Mason, Marlon Mack and Tevin Coleman on the bench. Samuel gained only 2 yards on two carries. Garoppolo had a 3-yard, third-and-2 conversion that looked eerily reminiscent of Trey Lance’s ankle-fracturing run merely by it going up the middle.


Talanoa Hufanga’s 52-yard interception return for a touchdown sealed the win. That play and Hufanga’s sensational start to his sophomore season compelled Deommodore Lenoir to launch the phrase: “All-Pro Huf.” Don’t forget about NFL sack leader Nick Bosa, whose two sacks raised his season total to six. The 49ers sacked Matthew Stafford seven times, with two from ex-Ram Samson Ebukam and one apiece by Lenoir, Charles Omenihu and Hassan Ridgeway. The 49ers could have intercepted Stafford even more, but they were most pleased with not allowing Cooper Kupp into the end zone on any of his 14 catches (19 targets, 127 yards).


The Rams are the Stafford-Kupp show, so the run game is a mere sideshow, and one the 49ers limited to 57 yards on 18 carries. Starter Cam Akers had just 13 yards on eight carries, and six of those yards came on their opening drive. The 49ers delivered nine tackles for losses. Dre Greenlaw had a career-high 15 tackles, though many came in pass coverage. Kevin Givens and Ridgeway filled in well for injured starters Javon Kinlaw and Arik Armstead.


This game could have taken a wicked turn for the 49ers when Ray-Ray McCloud fumbled the kickoff return after the Rams closed within 14-9. Marlon Mack recovered that loose ball and the 49ers responded with a Robbie Gould field goal. McCloud, to his credit, responded with a 22-yard punt return the next time he touched the ball, and that drive ended with Gould missing left on a 42-yard field goal to keep it a one-score game until Hufanga’s heroics.


Tremendous job by Kyle Shanahan and his staff to reverse course after last weekend’s prime-time dud in Denver. Special kudos to defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, who mixed up his attack and threw more blitzes than usual to help a defensive front missing Kinlaw and later Armstead.

Contributed by local news sources

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