clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

3 things we learned in Week 4: The 49ers' offensive line issues are overblown

Victory! “and it feels so good!”

Green Bay Packers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers dominated their primetime opponent, the Los Angeles Rams, on Monday Night Football. Jimmy Garoppolo bounced back after having a forgettable Week 3 performance. The 49ers' defense is the best in the league, and we saw a bit of the Niners’ Super Bowl potential Monday. Let’s look at what we learned from the win below.

Good offensive line play despite in-game musical chairs

The thought of Trent Williams not being on the field makes me nervous. San Francisco’s offensive line has three new faces, and we were hoping Williams would keep them grounded throughout the season. That would be halted when Williams went down with an ankle injury against the Broncos.

Colton McKivitz started in Williams’ absence and performed well before exiting the game with a knee injury. However, the offensive line allowed one quarterback hit where no one chose to step in front of Aaron Donald. Daniel Brunskill replaced Spencer Buford out of halftime to clean up some rookie slip-ups, but Burford came back in and did a fine job.

Keeping Garoppolo clean against Donald and Leonard Floyd are major wins. Chris Foerster’s group will be tested against a better defensive line as the Niners Travel to Charlotte next Sunday. The Panthers defensive line currently has more depth, with a few 49ers banged up.

DeMeco Ryans’ defense holds the Rams out of the end zone

The 49ers could not slow down Cooper Kupp, but how can you when he got targeted 19 times? Ryans’ defense held Matthew Stafford to -12.1 total Expected Points Added and tormented him all night.

The second-year defensive coordinator watched his unit rise to number one in points per game, defensive EPA, yards per rush, play, and game. So basically, you name it, and the 49ers are number one in that category.

Stunts, blitzes, and having “dudes” contributed to seven sacks Monday night. Samson Ebukam’s two sacks reflect his role being expanded. Ebukam has fully transitioned to a defensive end and looks more comfortable than ever.

Ryans’ defense is the first to allow fewer than 40 points and fewer than 4.0 yards per play through four games since the 2006 Chargers and Ravens. Football was completely different then, and it goes to show how fine of a job Ryans is doing.

Here’s my weekly apology for doubting Talanoa Hufanga. His tenacity when defending the run or blitzing gives me chills. Hufanga’s willingness to run through a wall sets the tone for the defense. His 52-yard pick-six launches him as the front-runner at first-team All-Pro safety.

The Week 4 matchup was the first time the Rams were held without a touchdown since Stafford joined Los Angeles last year. McVay’s offense got to the red zone three times and came away with a field goal every time. Although, last week, it was nine three-and-outs forced, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Panthers didn't pass the 50-yard line in the first half next week.

San Francisco’s Super Bowl potential was on full display

Shanahan’s offense looked red hot on the two scoring drives in the first half. Explosive runs, a decisive Garoppolo, and a ‘this offense can’t be stopped feeling.” It’s no secret that this is a star-studded offense. Samuel, George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, and Kyle Juszczyk can all make an impact play at any time.

Garoppolo greatly improved on third down this week. A few Jauan Jennings drops in the first half disrupted the conversion rate. Converting third downs is a must in the NFL. The offense has to finish games stronger. They would’ve faced more pressure if it wasn’t for back-to-back turnovers forced by the defense. The 49ers have started the fourth quarter with a lead in every game and are 2-2. Not trying to be a Debbie downer, but stronger finishes will catapult this team to the best in the NFL. Regardless, San Francisco sits atop the NFC West.