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Position-by-position grades for the 49ers dominant 31-14 win over the Rams

Christian McCaffrey had himself a game in a fantastic 49ers win heading into their BYE.

San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The 49ers are heading into their bye on a high note after dominating the Rams in a 31-14 victory. Despite several disappointing performances early in the season, the Niners are still just one game behind the Seahawks for the NFC West lead. At 4-4, they were one game ahead of their pace last season.

Here are the 49ers' position-by-position grades for the game:

Quarterbacks: A-

Jimmy Garoppolo made one terrible throw on Sunday, misreading Rams corner Jalen Ramsey early in the third quarter and throwing what could have been a game-changing interception.

However, that was the only significant mistake Garoppolo made all day. Just as importantly, he made several big-time throws, including his two touchdown passes (one to George Kittle and one to Christian McCaffrey). I’m hesitant to overreact since he had a similar stretch last season, but the 49ers have gotten a lot of good Jimmy early in the season.

Running backs: A+

After a light welcome last week against Kansas City, Christian McCaffrey showed why the 49ers could easily end up winning a trade where they parted with four draft picks for a running back.

McCaffrey is one of the most talented skill-position players in the league, and he scored a touchdown in each facet of the game. He racked up 94 rushing yards on 18 carries with multiple runs of 20+ yards. He also hauled in eight receptions on nine targets for 55 receiving yards.

Oh yeah, and he completed a 34-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Aiyuk. Jeff Wilson Jr. also had a 12-yard run spelling McCaffrey and caught both of his targets for 21 receiving yards.

McCaffrey did fumble once, and the 49ers lucked into the ball bouncing straight into Ray-Ray McCloud’s hands. Normally that would lead me to knock the position group’s grade down to an A or A-, but McCaffrey’s beautiful throw to Aiyuk justifies a perfect grade.

Tight ends: A-

Unlike Charlie Woerner a couple of weeks ago, Ross Dwelley caught the deep ball from Garoppolo for a huge 56-yard completion. George Kittle hauled in a trio of receptions for 39 yards and a touchdown and helped create plenty of holes for McCaffrey in the run game. With fullback Kyle Juszczyk out, the Niners' other tight ends, like Dwelley, Tyler Kroft, and Charlie Woerner, saw more opportunities as blockers and, given McCaffrey’s success on the ground, look to have held their own.

Wide receivers: B

Going up against Jalen Ramsey without Deebo Samuel or Jauan Jennings, the 49ers wide receivers had a tall task. Unsurprisingly, head coach Kyle Shanahan countered those limitations with consistent two-tight end and even some three-tight end formations where Brandon Aiyuk was the only receiver on the field.

Aiyuk had another well-rounded performance, recording at least six receptions for 80 receiving yards for the third consecutive game. He may not be an elite receiver yet, but Aiyuk is on pace for the first 1,000-yard season of his career.

Offensive line: A-

The right side of the 49ers' offensive line continues to deliver a couple of head-scratching plays a game in pass protection, where some combination of Mike McGlinchey and Spencer Burford just seemingly whiff on blocking an opposing pass rusher.

Granted, that’s always been part of McGlinchey’s game. His overall play is better than his worst highlights. With Trent Williams and Aaron Banks playing like the best left side of a line in the league, the group had a great overall performance.

Defensive line: A-

Sean McVay had the 49ers' defense’s number in the first half, countering the Niners' aggressive edge rushers and blitzes with perfect screens to counter. However, defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans ensured his unit made the necessary adjustments at the half, and the Rams did not score again. The defensive line deserves the bulk of the credit for shutting down the screen game and putting consistent pressure on Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford in the second half.

Linebackers: A+

In the first half, Fred Warner seemed like the only 49ers defender who was ready to play. While Oren Burks got off to a slow start, Warner seemed to be involved in every play, keeping several decent gains from becoming massive plays. Warner finished with a game-high 12 tackles and added a huge sack on third down of the Rams' first drive of the second half. Warner lived up to his billing as the defense’s leader on Sunday.

Cornerbacks: B

The combination of Stafford’s lessened arm strength this season and the lack of a consistent second receiver behind Cooper Kupp has limited the Rams' ability to push the ball downfield. The 49ers secondary made sure that didn’t change on Sunday, something that was far from guaranteed after they were torched by Kansas City.

Ambry Thomas and Mooney Ward each got tagged for pass coverage penalties in the endzone on the Rams' first touchdown drive, but otherwise played relatively clean games. Jimmie Ward’s move to the slot continued to deliver mixed results and leaves me wondering if rookie Samuel Womack will get another opportunity in the slot.

Safeties: B-

Talanoa Hufanga continued flying all over the field and nearly had another interception. He continued his recent struggles with missed tackles but still led the team with six solo tackles. Tashaun Gipson faded to the background for the second straight week, and with Ward’s inconsistency in the slot, it seems like it might be time to revert to the original depth chart coming out of the bye.

Special teams: B+

Robbie Gould nearly missed his first extra point of the game, but he ultimately made all five of his attempts. All three of Mitch Wishnowsky’s punts pinned opponents inside the Rams’ 20. Ray-Ray McCloud had some questionable decisions to return punts and kickoffs but managed to evade some tacklers to rack up a surprising amount of yardage. Given the unit's struggles this season, it was a solid all-around performance.