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Everything Kris Kocurek touches turns into gold

3 red zone stops from Rams-49ers

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans shined in Monday’s primetime win against the Los Angeles Rams. Ryans will be a hot commodity for teams with head coaching vacancies this offseason.

We look at three red zone stops from San Francisco’s second win before we lock into Week 5’s matchup against the Carolina Panthers.

Open field tackle on Kupp

Tackling has been a significant point of emphasis for Ryans’ defense. It started after the team missed 15 tackles in Week 9 last year. Emmanuel Moseley, an undrafted gem, is quietly among the best CB2s in the league, and we see exactly why here.

Rams offensive play-caller Sean McVay implements screens to get cheap yards. McVay used a jailbreak screen on Los Angeles’ fourth possession to get Cooper Kupp the ball in space. Moseley tracks Kupp’s hips and follows him to the ball for the tackle for loss.

Mooney Ward lockdown?

General manager John Lynch bolstered the cornerback group by signing Charvarius “Mooney” Ward to a three-year deal this offseason. According to Pro Football Reference, Ward allowed 10 catches for 91 yards on 22 targets through four games. Forty-nine of those yards came from Week 2, where he allowed six completions, Completions can be overblown as Ward still had a solid game.

The pass deflection above is uplifting in several ways. First, the Niners' secondary has struggled with defending the ball in the air over the years. Secondly, it’s great to see these corners have the ability to mirror and recover without penalty. Ward closes in on Allen Robinson and squeezes the life out of the fade route. He gets his head around while playing through Robinson’s hands for a textbook PBU.

Ebukam’s reunion topped off by strip-sack

Everything defensive line coach Kris Kocurek touches turns to gold. Kocurek gets the most out of all of his defensive linemen, and Samson Ebukam is the latest to flourish under Kocurek. Ebukam flashed last year despite transitioning to defensive end from playing stand-up linebacker.

He finished the MNF showdown with four tackles and two sacks. Ebukam sacked the Rams into a third in long on their first offensive possession. Above, Ebukam’s strip-sack puts icing on the cake after a pick-six sealed the game. Ebukam continues to develop as a power rusher and is already on pace to top his career high in sacks at 4.5.


I’m sure there will be debates over which plays should have made it. Talanoa Hufanga’s interception could have made it, but I already gave him my weekly apology.

Tackling will continue to be a point of emphasis, with Christian McCaffery up next week. Ryans’ cornerbacks must stay on high alert with the names of DJ Moore and Robbie Anderson out wide. Both receivers are strong route runners with twitch. Staying penalty free and trusting their technique will help this defense the most. And the defense will be historical if they can keep forcing turnovers upon Jimmie Ward’s return.