It doesn’t seem to matter how bad the 49ers look in the weeks before because they always seem to figure it out against the Los Angeles Rams. The 49ers ended their two-game losing streak by extending their now eight-game regular season winning streak against the Rams with a 31-14 victory in Los Angeles. Christian McCaffrey did it all in his second appearance at SoFi Stadium this season, totaling 183 yards with a passing, rushing, and a receiving touchdown as the 49ers offense returned to form.
McCaffrey is obviously a winner, but here are the four other winners alongside just one loser:
Winner: Offensive weapon Christian McCaffrey
Where to start with McCaffrey’s game on Sunday? He finished with 18 carries for 94 yards and a touchdown, eight receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown, and a pass that went for 34 yards resulting in a Brandon Aiyuk touchdown.
He became the first player since 2005 to finish with a passing, a rushing, and a receiving touchdown when LaDanian Tomlinson did it against the then-Oakland Raiders.
He also became the first player in NFL history to have the trio of touchdowns with more than 30 passing yards, 90 rushing yards, and 50 receiving yards, a stat line nobody would have ever thought to look up before today. It was a historic performance from McCaffrey when the 49ers needed it without Deebo Samuel in a must-win situation.
Loser: 49ers' first-half defense
The 49ers' defense in the first half was very reminiscent of what they’ve been the last two weeks. The Rams scored 14 points in the first half on two scoring drives that went for a combined 26 plays that took just under a full quarter off of the clock.
Their inability to stop the Rams on third down was the biggest issue for the 49ers, allowing five first downs on six first-half third down attempts, not including a third-down pass interference from Mooney Ward.
The Rams offense finished the half with 168 total yards and a 14-10 lead, but with a minute remaining in the first half with a timeout and the ball at their own 25-yard-line, Sean McVay decided he was content with the four-point lead and ran the half out, giving the ball back to the 49ers to open the second half. It felt as if the game turned around on that decision.
Winner: 49ers' second-half defense
The Rams finished the game with 14 points and 223 yards after the 49ers' defense allowed just 55 second-half yards and pitched a second-half shutout. After allowing the five third-down conversions in the first half, the defense held the Rams to just three third-down conversions on seven second-half attempts.
The Rams even converted a third down that resulted in a positive for the 49ers' defense after Allen Robinson caught a Matthew Stafford pass for a first down with 11:23 remaining in the fourth and the 49ers up 10. Robinson and Talanoa Hufanga came face-to-face after the play, but when Robinson raised his arm to point out the first down, he was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, and the six-yard gain resulted in a 15-yard setback. The Rams punted three plays later.
After two and a half games of concern, it was a welcome sight to see the defense turn it around in the second half.
Winner: Jimmy Garoppolo
The good version of Jimmy Garoppolo reared his head on Sunday after he completed 21 of his 25 passes for 235 yards with two touchdowns and no turnovers. His game did have an ominous start as he had an early deep shot to Ray-Ray McCloud that was open, but Garoppolo saw it late and ended up underthrowing McCloud, resulting in an incomplete pass.
From there, Garoppolo was nearly flawless, with his two touchdowns coming on particularly good throws, one to McCaffrey and the other to George Kittle. Like his game against Carolina, the numbers aren’t mind-blowing in 2022 terms, but if the 49ers could get the Jimmy Garoppolo they got on Sunday, they’ll be a tough team to beat.
Winner: 49ers tight ends and RB Jeff Wilson
The 49ers' offense was in a tough position entering Sunday with not just Deebo Samuel out but Kyle Juszczyk as well. Juszczyk could be considered to be the engine that makes the 49ers' offense go, and he’s a huge miss if out. The 49ers had all four of their tight ends active to try to fill the void, and for at least this week, it worked out well.
The 49ers' running game totaled 111 yards on 23 attempts averaging 4.8 yards per attempt, and didn’t miss a beat without Juszczyk. Both Kittle and Ross Dwelley had an impact in the pass game as well, with Kittle’s touchdown reception and Dwelley having a 56-yard reception that led to a 49ers touchdown three plays later.
Jeff Wilson even had a short-yardage first down out of the fullback spot. Versatility is important in Kyle Shanahan’s offense, and the tight end group showed that off against the Rams.
Winner: Fred Warner
Warner has been good on the season but has lacked that trademark game where he takes over and is all over the place. Sunday was that game for Warner, finishing with a team-high 12 tackles with two quarterback hits, a sack, a tackle for loss, and a pass deflection. His sack came on a third down, at a time when the Rams were seven-for-nine on third downs when he created pressure up the middle and was able to get to Stafford ending the drive. The 49ers then took the ball and extended their lead to 10, and essentially ended the game. It hasn’t exactly been the season we’ve come to expect from Warner, but Sunday’s performance was a step in the right direction.