It’s difficult to fault the San Francisco 49ers for anything significant at this point in the season. Kyle Shanahan’s squad is undefeated through five games, an accomplishment not achieved by the 49ers since 1990. The team is coming off an impressive division win over the defending NFC Champion Los Angeles Rams. Despite it all, the 49ers still have their flaws, some within their control and others beyond Shanahan’s scheming.
Here’s our weekly stock report after the 49ers’ statement win over the Rams:
Stock up: Robert Saleh
The 49ers’ defensive coordinator put on a clinic against the Rams on Sunday. Sean McVay’s offense averaged eight yards per carry on their first drive, easily marching down the field and into the endzone without a single pass. It was the last time they would. For the rest of the game, the Rams only managed 3.5 yards per carry. It was a sterling display of adaptation by Saleh, whose defense shut down McVay’s offense from that point on. The Rams didn’t convert a single third (0-9) or fourth (0-4) down for the remainder of the afternoon. They also netted a grand total of minus-three yards in the second half, adding up all of the net yards in each of their seven drives. Saleh’s excitement when the 49ers stuffed the Rams’ 4th-and-goal attempt on the 1-yard line was infectious.
Stock down: Rushing offense
San Francisco was home to the league’s leading rushing attack heading into Week 6, averaging 200 yards per game. The Rams did everything they could to nullify Shanahan’s ground attack, succeeding for the most part. The 49ers averaged 5.2 yards per carry on the season before entering the Coliseum, where they were held to just 2.4 yards per carry. McVay’s gameplan clearly included zeroing in on the run game and forcing the 49ers to throw the ball with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Shanahan’s offense was able to do enough to maintain the lead, but it was surprising to see the team’s rushing offense stifled to this extent, even with backups at both tackle spots.
Stock up: Injury outlook
The 49ers are beginning to receive some clarity on their injury situation through Week 6. Shanahan said on Monday that he hopes to have veteran left tackle Joe Staley (fractured fibula) back before the team’s Week 9 divisional matchup against the Arizona Cardinals. He also said that starting cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon (foot sprain) is expected back for the team’s Week 8 home matchup against the Carolina Panthers. There are no new updates on fullback Kyle Juszczyk (knee) or right tackle Mike McGlinchey (knee), both of which are expected to miss another four to five weeks.
Stock down: Bumps and bruises
In addition to updates, the 49ers’ win over the Rams came with its own set of injuries. A pair of strains to rotational defensive lineman D.J. Jones (hamstring) and receiver Deebo Samuel (groin) have both labeled day-to-day as they recover. The pair is questionable for the 49ers’ Week 7 matchup against Washington. Cornerbacks Richard Sherman (stinger) and K’Waun Williams (hand) both suffered minor injuries on Sunday, but neither is expected to miss any time. The 49ers are down four starters in Staley, Witherspoon, Juszczyk, and McGlinchey. The team can ill afford another significant loss.
Stock up: The rebuild
The 49ers general manager John Lynch has to be elated with his team’s 5-0 start. Lynch, a rookie at the helm of the team, has successfully rebuilt the roster along with Shanahan into what many feel is a Top 3 team in the NFL. That deserves praise. Lynch’s prize acquisitions this offseason, pass rushers Dee Ford and Nick Bosa, have both been everything the team has hoped for. The pair and their ability to affect every play, along with improved play from the rest of the defense, has catapulted the unit into elite status, for now. Shanahan’s offense has built a reputation for pounding the football and out-scheming opponents. The 49ers’ rise to power has been impressive, to say the least.
Stock down: Division reinforcements
On Tuesday, cornerback Jalen Ramsey’s long-standing trade request was finally honored by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Unfortunately for the 49ers, Ramsey, one of the NFL’s best cover corners, is headed to the NFC West. The Rams dealt two first-round picks in 2020 and 2021 and a fourth-rounder in 2021 to acquire Ramsey for the Jaguars. San Francisco pass-catchers will have the unfortunate task of dealing with Ramsey for years to come, but there’s a flip side to this coin. The Rams have mortgaged a significant part of their future to acquire the All-Pro Ramsey, a player that probably wouldn’t have helped them win Sunday’s game against the 49ers. Los Angeles is strapped for cash, and now is without the premium picks it needs to acquire talented players on the cheap. Ramsey will make things difficult on the 49ers, but the talented corner will make things difficult on the Rams, as well.