It was a must-win game, and the San Francisco 49ers won it, beating the Los Angeles Rams, 24-16, and improving to 3-3 on the season. And, they looked like the 49ers again.
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo looked healthy and played well, going 23-of-33 for 268 yards, three touchdowns and a rating of 124.3. He threw touchdowns to each of the Yac Bros – Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle – in the first half, with the Kittle touchdown being a 44-yarder that came on 4th and 1.
“It was perfect coverage,” Kittle said. “You know, they zero blitzed it. No one in the middle of the field and had the right call on, so shout out to coach Shanahan for that. Then that at the end of the day was just me and Jimmy have to play pitch and catch.”
The offensive line was much improved, allowing zero sacks against a Rams’ defense that came into the game with a league-leading 20 of them. They established the run, running the ball 37 times for 122 yards.
A huge difference in the game came was the 49ers’ secondary, where Emmanuel Moseley was back at corner and Jason Verrett continued to shine.
In the third quarter, when the Rams were starting to get a little momentum, Verrett intercepted Rams’ quarterback Jared Goff in the end zone.
“I was the happiest person on the world,” said free safety Jimmie Ward. “I had inside leverage, so…I owe that guy a steak dinner.”
It was a play not lost on his quarterback.
“That was a huge turning point in the game” said Garoppolo. “I wasn’t sure what coverage or anything we were in, but just the play he made on it, keeping his feet in bounds. I mean, it was a hell of a play. He played great tonight. JV, he’s one of those guys, even if you get down on him, if he has a bad day or something like that, he has the mindset where he comes back the next day and he’s ready to fight. That’s what I really respect out of the guy. When a guy can do that on a day to day basis, he earns your trust as a teammate.”
Per Pro Football Focus, Verrett had a 0.0 passer rating allowed this week, which was the best among NFL cornerbacks.
“…Jason’s the man out there,” said Shanahan. “The way he carries himself, the way he likes to mix it up. He loves playing football. He loves the physicality of the game and he’s a great talent in terms of covering. I’m so pumped to have him on our team and I’m just happy for him that he’s been able to get out there again. It was awesome getting E-Man back and kind of just having a little bit more of our crew there in the secondary. I think the guys fed off it. We went against a very good offense, a very good team. I know we bent a little bit in some of the run game, but the way we played down in the red zone…I thought the guys were pretty flawless.”
Verrett has battled various injuries over the last few years, so to be healthy and playing is a big deal.
“[W]ords can’t even describe the feeling,” Verrett said. “I’m just happy to be out there. I love the game. And this is just what I work for. I work to get back to this stage right here and I’m just trying to leave it all out there on the field every chance I get.”
One Game at a Time
The 49ers have a tough stretch of games in front of them and the road to the playoffs will be a tough one, but beating a good Rams team and playing the way they did, is a boost to their confidence.
“We’re definitely moving in the right direction,” Garoppolo said. “I wouldn’t say we’re totally there yet. There’s still a lot football left in the season, but how we finished this game, it felt a lot like last year, just how we were controlling the clock at the end of the game, running the ball, converting third downs. That’s when we really put teams away and that’s what we did tonight.”
All week long, the 49ers talked about a sense of urgency and it seemed to come out on Sunday Night Football.
“I think everybody holds themselves to such a high standard, so if you’re not meeting that standard, you feel you’ve got to elevate what you’re doing,” said linebacker Fred Warner. “There’s got to be that sense of urgency and I think we had that tonight and that’s why you saw the result that you did. Obviously, it wasn’t perfect by any means, but would much rather correct things off a win rather than a loss.”
Unfortunately, running back Raheem Mostert left the game with an ankle injury late in the first half and was ruled out in the third quarter.
Next up, Garoppolo is goes back to where it started, as the 49ers travel to New England to take on the Patriots. One game at a time.