49ers take NFC West lead with win over Rams; 5 burning questions answered

For the second year in a row the San Francisco 49ers (2-2) dominated the Los Angeles Rams (2-2) on Monday night football.

The 49ers performance in the 24-9 win was by far their best of the season and puts them at the top of the NFC West standings.

It may only be week four, but this is a big game for the 49ers. With a victory they will move into first place in the NFC West. However, a loss will put them two and a half games back.

Here are the answers to the five questions I asked prior to the game.

1.) Will Jimmy Garoppolo bounce back? YES

Jimmy Garoppolo’s performance was far from perfect, but it was exactly what the 49ers needed.

One week after converting only a single third down attempt, Garoppolo came out and converted two on the opening possession. Both came when Garoppolo connected with Jauan Jennings. The first was a ten-yard completion to convert third and nine. The veteran followed that up with a twelve-yard toss to Jennings to convert on third and five and set up the first 49ers score of the night.

As happened in Denver, Garoppolo missed on a couple of deep throws. He had Charlie Woerner open down the left sideline, but his pass was off the mark and the tight end was unable to make the grab while twisting to get to the ball.

Two plays later, Garoppolo missed high to an open Jennings on an inside post route to end the 49ers third possession of the game.

All told, Garoppolo finished the night completing 16 of 27 attempts for 239 yards and one touchdown.

Most importantly, Garoppolo did not have a turnover. Exactly what this 49ers team needs from its quarterback.

2.) Can the 49ers get their run game back on track? YES

It wasn’t a dominating performance, however the 49ers running game made big plays when needed.

Jeff Wilson Jr. made the first big play on the ground when he exploded through the left side of the Rams defense for a touchdown from 32 yards out to give San Francisco a four-point lead.

The 49ers ran the ball 22 times for 88 yards. Wilson led the way, picking up 74 of those yards on 18 carries.

Kyle Juszczyk chipped in with a nice gain of nine on a counter run in the third quarter, while Garoppolo and Deebo Samuel added five yards on three attempts.

3.) Can San Francisco’s offense hold on to the ball? YES

The 49ers improved to 13-3 since the start of last season in games in which the turnover margin is tied or favors them.

Jimmy Garoppolo missed a few throws but didn’t make the big mistake.

The rest of the offense held on to the ball as well. For the first time this season the 49ers offense did not put the ball on the ground.

For the 49ers, the lone close call came on special teams. For the second consecutive week, Ray-Ray McCloud fumbled on a kick return. Fortunately for San Francisco they were able to make the recovery and the offense would drive down for a field goal to give them an eight-point lead early in the third quarter.

4.) Can the 49ers defense force Matthew Stafford into mistakes? YES

As I wrote prior to the game, Matthew Stafford usually gives opposing defenses an opportunity or two for a takeaway.

It took until the fourth quarter tonight.

Following a missed field goal by Robbie Gould to keep it an eight-point game, Stafford moved the Rams offense to the 49ers 44. That’s when Talanoa Hufanga struck.

Hufanga read a screen out to the right side to perfection, fired his shot and took the Stafford pass 52-yards in the other direction for a touchdown to blow the game wide open.

5.) Will the 49ers defense say hot? YES

This 49ers defense is the best I’ve seen since 1994. They are explosive at every level, take the ball away, and have held opponents to only 37 points through the first four games.

On Monday night they held Los Angeles to only 3.5 yards per play and became the first team in 2022 to keep Matthew Stafford from completing at least 70 percent of his pass attempts.

After forcing nine three and outs on Sunday night in Denver, the San Francisco defense was on the field a lot more tonight.

The Rams had four drives of ten or more plays, but each time the 49ers defense stood up when needed.

San Francisco held Sean McVey’s offense to a trio of field goals on the first three drives, and Samson Ebukam forced a Matthew Stafford fumble on the fourth to seal the victory.

The 49ers pass rush made its presence felt once again. Led by a pair of sacks from Ebukam and Nick Bosa, San Francisco tallied seven total and hit Stafford 11 times. They also did an excellent job against the run, holding Los Angeles to only 3.2 yards per attempt.

Prediction:

49ers 23 Rams 20

Almost had the 49ers score in this one.

This article has 16 Comments

  1. Your next recurring question will be: can this D alone get us to the SB ?
    Awesome night but is it enough for the rest of the season.

  2. 49ers defense has given up 4 TDs in 4 games. The next closest team in the NFC are the Cowboys at 62 points. How in the world is this team 2-2. Another great performance by that defense. Should have had 3 interceptions, 7 Sacks, and caused about 9 offensive holding calls that weren’t called. This defense is special. The offense needs some help. The O-line is not good. Not sure how to improve that during the season. Defense is Superbowl quality. Hopefully the offense can find an identity that allows them to score points.

  3. Anybody on this blog, handy in the kitchen, or over the grill? I painfully predicted a 27-13 Rams win for last nights game…I prefer my Crow grilled, medium well, with a Red Wine reduction…

  4. 55 Niner, Hacksaw46, Oregon, htwaits…you out there?
    When Wagner took out that guy on the field it reminded me of Mike Curtis laying out some trespassing dude in a Baltimore Colts game many years ago, LOL.
    Only folks that get a pass between the white lines are the Refs; everybody else: buckle your chin strap! 😝
    Satisfying win.

  5. BT,
    Do you remember Curtis’s nick name? Animal. The next two games are must wins on the road. There can be no more losses to weak opponents.

  6. While the ’94 Niners were no doubt an offensive monster under Steve Young, their defense allowed 18 1/2 points a game and was 6th in the league and just doesn’t measure up to their other championship teams, despite all the big names signed in free agency. This current shut down defensive unit hearkens memories and is more akin to those great 49ers defenses of the 80s under Ronnie Lott. Hufanga is a young Lott reincarnated. Curious what Old Coach and Hacksaw46 think.

    1. Rob,
      The best 9er D of all time was 1971. They lost to at Dall in the NFCCG. Tommy Hart DE belongs in the HOF and Cedrick Hardman was a great pass rusher also. Jimmy Johnson CB is in the HOF as well as Dave Wilcox. Charlie Kruger DT also belongs in the HOF.

  7. I think JG had a better game than he is getting credit for. If Kittle gets his other foot down and Gould makes a FG that he makes 98% of the time the final score would have been 31-9 and we would be talking about a great defensive performance and a very good offensive performance. A solid B grade for JG this week.

  8. Jimmy was doing what Jimmy does. If we can live with him throwing high and being off the mark at times, we’ll be alright. If Jimmy can perform like that on a regular basis, we’re going places. Our defense looked amazing.

    Now we just need some consistency.

  9. Given the injuries on the OL, we need to either trade for or sign a FA tackle. We were lucky in the Rams game. Moore is unproven although he did do betetr thna expected Monday. I would bring Poe up if we cannot find a large, experienced veteran. Carolina is no cinch.

    1. Is Isaiah Wynn of NE still available? He might cost them a 3rd round pick but we may have a couple extra 3rd rounders if JG signs as a FA this off season and I am pretty sure D. Ryans will get a HC job this off season.

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