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Six winners and a loser in the 49ers win over the Rams

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It was tough narrowing down the winners....

San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

We have recapped the 49ers’ victory. We had some thoughts and takeaways. Now it’s time to talk about the winners and losers from Sunday’s NFC West win over the Rams.

Winners

Dee Ford

Ford had the highest graded game for any Niner defender this season, per PFF. On one of Jared Goff’s initial dropbacks, Ford and Nick Bosa bull-rushed each offensive tackle into each other.

That should have been a sign of things to come. For Ford, it was. He had a sack-fumble, and also had a half-sack with Kwon Alexander. Pressures are great, but finishing matters.

Ford also had three other hurries, a run stop, and a forced fumble. Ford is winning at an insane clip. I’m not sure when we’ll see Ford at full strength again, but he’s maximizing his time on the field.

Daniel Brunskill

The 49ers right tackle started his first NFL game. Brunskill allowed one pressure against a talented and athletic Rams front. We never heard his name called, which is a great thing. The 49ers running game wasn’t nearly as effective this game, but the offense ran for four first downs behind Brunskill.

Jimmie Ward

I wanted the 49ers to give Moore a longer leash. He had made a few plays that cost the defense, but Moore was also taking away plays on the backend. I was wrong. Ward has been fantastic in two appearances. He’s made plays on the ball in the passing game and made stops in the run. Most importantly, Ward has been a sure-tackler. That’s exactly what the defense needed.

Loser

Interior offensive line

The Rams struggled on offense, but their front seven won the battle on defense. Specifically, inside. The Rams pressured Garoppolo 20 total times, but 31 of their 61 tackles were stops. Aaron Donald was Aaron Donald, but the Rams had two players that I had never heard of play well along with the interior as well. For the majority of the season, the trio inside for the 49ers have done an excellent job getting to the second level and sealing off linebackers. That wasn’t the case on Sunday. It was the first time in five games the line was outplayed. Considering who they were going against, and who the 49ers were missing, there’s no need to overreact.

Winner

George Kittle

Kittle caught eight passes for 103 yards. Five of those went for first downs. Like always, he had one play where he threw numerous defenders to the ground. Shanahan schemed Kittle open on a long 45-yarder, but Kittle and Jimmy Garoppolo have a rapport on third down that keeps the chains moving for the Niners offense. I’m running out of words to describe Kittle.

Arik Armstead

I don’t know if he’s always played like this, but Armstead’s hustle stands out this season. If he’s not getting after the quarterback, which he did four times on Sunday, he’s turning and running to prevent bigger gains for the offense. No matter where the ball goes, Armstead is busting his site decorum to get to the ball. I’ve come to appreciate the way he plays. Armstead has five tackles, but four of them were stops. Armstead is put in some difficult situations, sometimes where he’s asked to take on double teams. The former first-rounder is playing the best football of his life.

Robert Saleh

The last winner could be just about anyone on defense. I’d understand putting Matt Breida or Dante Pettis here as well. We can’t talk about the game without mentioning Saleh. The Niners defensive coordinator made a few adjustments after the first drive, and that was all she wrote. Goff had a quarterback rating of 1.1. The Rams had -12 yards in the third quarter. The Rams averaged 2.3 yards per play after the first drive.

When you read the stats for the defense this year, they don’t make sense. For example, the 49ers are forcing a three-an-out 48.3% of the time this season. That’s five full percentage points better than the second-place Bills. The 49ers are loaded on that side of the ball, but Saleh and the coaching staff deserve plenty of credit.