The San Francisco 49ers found their jolt. Nine days after coming to Santa Clara in a trade, running back (and wide receiver and sometimes quarterback) Christian McCaffrey sparked a stagnant offense and lifted the 49ers to a 31-14 win victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
They head into the bye week 4-4, which sounds a lot better than 3-5.
“Going into a bye on a win, you really can’t ask for anything better, especially given our situation,” said 49ers tight end George Kittle. “…I wish we were sitting at 6-2, but 4-4 with three wins in the division, I’m okay with that.”
After the Rams orchestrated a 17-play, 88-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown and a 7-0 lead for LA, the 49ers orchestrated some razzle-dazzle of their own when quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw a lateral pass to McCaffrey who in turn threw a 34-yard TD pass to wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.
“Thursday night, when we were doing the red zone meeting…I was yelling down the rooms…does anyone know if Christian can throw?” said 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. “And then [tight ends coach] Brian Fleury emailed or sent through text a video of him throwing like 53 yarder a few years ago. So when I saw that, I felt he could throw and we were in practice the next day and he did throw good then and threw great today.”
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) October 30, 2022
Earlier this week, Garoppolo, who finished the day 21-of-25 for 235 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, commented that McCaffrey “sees the field very similar to a quarterback.” McCaffrey said he learned some things from his younger brothers who were quarterbacks.
“You’ve got to get the elbow up,” McCaffrey said. “Get loose, get the elbow up and it helps when someone is wide open.”
Garoppolo jokingly said, “the throw was alright,” while Kittle called it a “dime.”
McCaffrey completed a football Triple Crown, adding both a receiving and a rushing touchdown to his day. His rather impressive touchdown reception came late in the third quarter on a very nice 9-yard pass from Garoppolo in the right corner of the end zone. It was on 3rd-and-3 and just like that, the 49ers can score in the second half.
Christian McCaffrey can do it all 🖼 pic.twitter.com/SkQPLoqGDJ
— PFF (@PFF) October 30, 2022
“I basically went through the whole read, left to right, came back to Christian and he wasn’t even really in the read, and he turned it up field,” Garoppolo said. “That’s just being a football player. We’ve been trying to emphasize that on offense, just being a football player, being in the moment, and I thought the guys did a good job of that today.”
I'm not sure the #49ers gave up enough for Christian McCaffrey
— Tracy Sandler (@49ersfangirl) October 30, 2022
McCaffrey has put in extra hours with the playbook, coaches and teammates in his nine days as a 49er to get up to speed. Some of those extra hours have been with his QB to build chemistry and build a rapport.
“A lot of our guys on offense have been doing this for years together,” said Garoppolo. “It’s not an easy thing to grasp, but I thought he did a great job this week…Honestly, no questions in the huddle during this game, which is incredible from him. Just the mental capacity to pick that up that quickly. I thought guys stepped up all over the field though. It started with Christian, and I thought it just played its way down. All of our guys played good today. We rushed over a hundred yards. That’s always a good formula for us.”
The final McCaffrey scoring highlight came in the fourth quarter when McCaffrey followed a 24-yard run up with a 1-yard touchdown. Game. Set. Match.
McCaffrey became only the fourth player ever, and the first 2005, to run for, throw for and catch a touchdown in the same game.
“…[T]he biggest thing is coming out with a win, playing in the second half like that too,” McCaffrey said. “And I think the thing I’m most happy about is just this whole team welcoming me with open arms. And especially the running back room, guys like Jeff Wilson and [Kyle Juszczyk], they just helped me all week to learn everything. And I don’t know, I think that just means a lot to me so obviously those things are cool but I’m just proud to be a 49er and it felt good to get a win today.”