The 49ers had their most complete performance of 2021 as they shut down the Rams 31-10 on Monday night. From wire to wire, San Francisco dominated Los Angeles. It all started with the Niners' initial offensive drive that took 11 minutes off the clock. The team never looked back after. Jimmy Garoppolo said, “I don’t want to say it took their soul away, but it definitely did something.”
Here are the winners, loser, and IDKs from Week 10.
Kyle Shanahan’s plan to “give your best players the ball” worked, and it started with Deebo Samuel having ten touches on the evening. Samuel had five receptions for 97 yards, including a fourth-down conversion that went for 40 yards and a touchdown. Samuel added five carries for 36 yards with another touchdown.
Samuel’s notable touches:
7-yard rush for a first down
9-yard rush for a first down
8-yard rush 20-yard reception on 3rd & 7
8-yard touchdown run 19-yard reception on 3rd & 6
40-yard touchdown on 4th & 6
Deebo plays bully ball by bouncing off would-be tacklers and moves the chain when he touches the ball.
Garoppolo went 15-for-19 for 182 yards and two touchdowns. If you look at his throwing chart from Next Gen Stats, you see a QB that didn’t attempt a pass over 15 yards:
However, Garoppolo threw the ball into tight windows, played on time, and hit his receivers in stride so they could create after the catch. That’s how you play the position in Shanahan’s offense. The quarterback is a point guard who distributes the ball.
Garoppolo’s throw in the end zone to George Kittle protected Kittle from a big hit and led him away from a defender. Jimmy wasn’t flashy, but he was effective — which is the version of Garoppolo the Niners need.
The offensive line
The Rams sacked Garoppolo once. They didn’t have a QB hit all night. And while the offense averaged 3.5 yards per carry, they carried the ball 44 times. That tells you they’re moving the ball. Indeed, the 49ers' success rate was 47% for the game. Even more impressive, they had a success rate of 75% on third downs.
Having success in the running game prevented the Rams from pinning their ears back on passing downs. Shanahan’s confidence in the five guys up front showed in his play-calling. Excluding kneel-downs, the 49ers rushed by design on 68% of their plays Monday, their highest in a game over the past 20 seasons. They also ran on 1st down on 23 of 25 plays (92%), their highest in the past 20 seasons, per ESPN’s Nick Wagoner.
Norman allowed a red zone reception on a comeback to Odell Beckham Jr. I was a bit surprised the Rams didn’t target him more. There aren’t any real “losers” in a game you win wire to wire 31-10 against a divisional opponent. Norman is on here because of this play:
How are you in a press bail and miss judge the ball this badly? Lol pic.twitter.com/HpdKYpULHY— Big CROCKY⚡️ (@eric_crocker) November 16, 2021
It’s comical to mistime your jump that bad as a professional cornerback. Norman could have easily surrendered a touchdown on the play.
For a good time, read the comments from Monday’s four bold predictions. First, nobody thought Ward had a chance for an interception. That changed on the first drive of the game. Then, Ward followed that up with a pick-six.
I thought he’d have opportunities since Ward would follow Cooper Kupp. But, unfortunately, the 49ers' interception luck has been abysmal this season. On the play before Ward’s pick-six, Emmanuel Moseley dropped an interception. Moseley dropped another one late in the game after Talanoa Hufanga hit Moseley with a little friendly fire.
It felt as though the 49ers won the game after Ward’s backbreaking second interception. That’s what turnovers do to your opponent. Hopefully, the defense can build off Monday night’s performance.
Kittle finished with a modest five receptions for 50 yards but added a touchdown. This was his highlight of the night, however:
George Kittle giving out a ride pic.twitter.com/TFMnAanXOm— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) November 16, 2021
Kittle gives out weekly rides, whether it’s against a linebacker or a defensive lineman. He and Trent Williams on the same side are unfair.
When Kittle touched the ball, his plays went for a first or a touchdown. He may not have had the high volume, but Kittle was efficient against the Rams.
Nick Bosa had a sack and added a QB hit. DeMeco Ryans moved Bosa around, and we even saw him rush the passer standing up over the center. Arden Key had the 49ers' other sack, and that came matched up inside at defensive tackle.
The tackling was superb against the Rams. Azeez Al-Shaair returned to his usual self after a letdown game against the Cardinals. Al-Shaair led the 49ers in tackles with eight, including two behind the line of scrimmage. He had one play where he walloped the Rams player that Al-Shaair’s facemask bent.
When he played in the box, Talanoa Hufanaga made plays around the line of scrimmage, including a QB hit as well as breaking up a third-down pass. Fred warner should have had an interception. You name it. They played well in the front-7.
IDK - Where this has been all season
I do. It’s easy to get your players “up” to play one of the best teams in the NFL. Kyle Shanahan wasn’t going to be embarrassed by his pupil Sean McVay on national TV — especially not after an embarrassing performance against the Cardinals.
Everyone has ever been frustrated and fed up with this 49er team because of what you saw on TV Monday night. That was the level of dominance the 49ers are capable of. That was the reason Vegas predicted this team to soar over a 10.5 preseason win total.
But we haven’t seen it for four quarters this season. If the offense is rolling, the defense will struggle. When the defense gets stops, the offense can’t move the ball. On Monday night, both sides of the ball were clicking, Robbie Gould hit a 50-yard field goal, and Trenton Cannon had a 37-yard return.
It was an outstanding bounce-back performance that the 49ers needed. Going for it on 4th & 6 and scoring from 40 yards out to put a team away is the type of performance this Niners team should use as a springboard for the second half of the season. Of course, their last-place schedule should help.
Could this be the start of a winning streak that propels San Francisco to a playoff run? If they are the team we believed they’d be to start the season, then the answer is yes.