The 49ers performance against Los Angeles on Sunday was their best of the season.
Kyle Shanahan had the offense moving throughout the game. They were able to overcome a few mistakes and produce their highest scoring output of the season.
The impact of Christian McCaffrey was clear, and Shanahan did an excellent job of setting Jimmy Garoppolo up for success.
On the defensive side, DeMeco Ryans’ group was able to shrug off a rough first half and return to form.
After reviewing the coach’s film, here are the plays I found key to Sunday’s victory.
Christian McCaffrey’s impact on the passing game
One thing which jumped out while going through the film was how Kyle Shanahan used Christian McCaffrey and George Kittle to give Jimmy Garoppolo clearly defined reads.
Facing third and seven early in the second quarter McCaffrey and Kittle both line up to the left side. Los Angeles sends a five-man blitz, Garoppolo sees it quick and gets the ball out to McCaffrey in the left flat for a gain of nine.
The next play once finds McCaffrey and Kittle lined up on the left once again.
McCaffrey runs a choice route while Kittle works up the left seam, putting the Rams linebacker in conflict. Garoppolo quickly sees the linebacker go to McCaffrey and zips the ball to the tight end for a gain of 23.
Another first half example.
This time Kittle runs a ten yard curl while McCaffrey runs a stop route in the left flat. Garoppolo sees Rams linebacker Leonard Floyd drop with Kittle and quickly gets the ball out to McCaffrey to pick up another first down.
Moving to the fourth quarter for this one.
Kittle is lines up as the outside receiver to the right side with McCaffrey in the backfield.
After a play fake to Brandon Aiyuk, Garoppolo boots out to his left side and looks to McCaffrey in the left flat. The Rams cornerback does a good job of staying outside, but the threat of McCaffrey draws safety Taylor Rapp towards the line of scrimmage.
Garoppolo quickly flips his hips and lofts a perfectly placed ball to Kittle in the back of the endzone for the fourth San Francisco touchdown of the day.
Garoppolo’s connection with McCaffrey
Trailing by four in the third quarter, the 49ers offense authored what may end up being the signature play of the 2022 season.
Working from the gun, Garoppolo looks to his left then to the middle before starting to slide to his right.
Noticing his quarterback is in trouble, McCaffrey spots a hole in the secondary and takes off up the right sideline. Garoppolo spots this and drops a dime to the running back for the go-ahead score.
This play is the result of excellent pass protection from the offensive line to allow Garoppolo the time to work the entire field. It’s also the result of a quarterback and a play maker being on the same page and simply making a terrific football play.
There were several examples of Kyle Shanahan stacking plays or concepts together throughout the game to keep the Rams defense off balance.
I chose to focus on his use of Brandon Aiyuk running a quick out to demonstrate how Shanahan manufactured an explosive play.
We start in the second quarter. Aiyuk is lined up on the line of scrimmage to the left side of the formation.
Christian McCaffrey motions to his outside. The running back runs a go route while Aiyuk runs his quick out.
Jimmy Garoppolo doesn’t like what he sees, comes off Aiyuk too early and is sacked by Leonard Floyd as he tries to work back to the middle of the field.
The missed opportunity in the first half doesn’t stop Shanahan from coming back to it.
During the second possession after halftime, Aiyuk again runs a quick out to the left side. This time Jimmy Garoppolo is able to make the throw in rhythm and hits the receiver for a gain of 11.
Moving into the fourth quarter, the 49ers open with another quick out to Aiyuk on the left side. This time the cornerback is ready for it and drops the receiver after a gain of only five.
On the next offensive possession Kyle Shanahan goes to the well once again. This time he goes back to something similar to what we saw on the first play.
Instead of Christian McCaffrey motioning outside of Aiyuk, Shanahan has Ross Dwelley line up there.
Jimmy Garoppolo looks to the Aiyuk running an out to the left side, but the Rams cornerback isn’t going to let him hit that again and jumps the route
Garoppolo sees it, pulls the ball back and lofts it deep down the left sideline to an uncovered Dwelley for a gain of 56.
The 49ers defense struggled to get off the field in the first half, and during the Rams first possession after halftime it looked like they were once again in control.
After a 13-yard strike from Matthew Stafford to Allen Robinson, the Rams had first and ten at their own 38. That’s when Charles Omenihu made the play that changed the course of the game.
Cooper Kupp gets behind the 49ers secondary on a deep corner route, but Charles Omenihu runs over the left guard and forces an inaccurate throw to bring up second and ten.
The reason this play is so important is it led to the 49ers defense finally getting the Rams into third and long.
During the first half Los Angeles faced third down eight times, but only twice were they in third and six or longer.
That flipped in the second half when the Rams found themselves in third and six or longer on four of their six third downs.
With the Rams offense now on its heels, DeMeco Ryans was able to send pressure at Matthew Stafford. As a result, the Rams were able to generate only 30 yards of total offense over the last 25 minutes of the game.