Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

17 thrilling observations from the 49ers’ postseason-clinching win over the Rams

Marc Adams
Jan 10, 2022 at 12:34 PM--

My heart was hurting. My head was throbbing. And I'm certain my blood pressure reached an all-time high. But it was worth it.

The San Francisco 49ers, after trailing 17-0 in the first half, defeated the Los Angeles Rams, 27-24, in a thrilling overtime game, to clinch a spot in the 2021 postseason. The way this team stayed together, and showed the kind of resolve that championship teams show, tells us a lot about the players and the coaches. There is no quit in this team. And despite all the criticism they have endured (some of it warranted), this team deserves much respect today.

Here are my 17 "thrilling observations" from Sunday's must-have-it, "win and you're in" game:

  • Early on, it looked like the issues that cost the 49ers the game in Nashville would cost them the game in Inglewood. Turnovers on offense, and the inability to get off the field on third down for the defense, crept in and threatened to end the 49ers season.

  • Deebo Samuel does everything. He even throws touchdown passes. On Sunday, Samuel threw to a wide-open Jauan Jennings for a 24-yard touchdown (to go along with 45 yards rushing, 95 yards receiving, and one rushing touchdown). Samuel also lined up to receive a kickoff, though he didn't field it. I bet he could have been the punter, as well.
  • Robbie Gould not only came up with some big kicks (2 for 2 on FG, 3 for 3 on XP), he came up big as the punter. When punter Mitch Wishnowsky went down with a concussion early in the game, Gould was called on to finish the game, and he did really well, finishing with a 45.0 yard average on two punts, including one inside the 20-yard line.
  • Jimmy Garoppolo looked terrible. Then he looked amazing. Such is the journey on the Garoppolo train. For all the hate directed his way, Garoppolo continues to make plays. Yes, he makes some bad throws. But he consistently leads his team down to score when they need him to. Garoppolo doesn't deserve as much criticism as he receives. Someone actually tweeted at me on Sunday that it was Garoppolo's fault when the Rams scored (what looked like) the winning touchdown. Are people really this ignorant?

  • Elijah Mitchell is such a beast. In the second half, he ran hard, and played a huge part in this win. Mitchell finished the game with 85 yards rushing on 21 tough carries (4.0 yards per attempt).
  • Jauan Jennings is becoming a great number three wide receiver. I love how he has come on the last half of the season. He's been such a great find for the 49ers. He had six catches for 94 yards and two touchdowns yesterday. Jennings also had some big third-down conversions. And I haven't even mentioned his blocking. He's really good at that, too.
  • Brandon Aiyuk had some huge, timely catches in this game. He finished the game with six catches for 107 yards. And Aiyuk always looks so smooth running with the ball.
  • There was a stretch when Garoppolo threw an ugly pick that cost the 49ers points. Right after that, Jimmie Ward got beat twice on a Rams' touchdown drive. It was a bad few minutes to be named 'Jim.'

  • Welcome back, Emmanuel Moseley. The cornerback had an interception in his first game back from injury.
  • Ambry Thomas had the biggest play of the game, and the biggest of his life, when he sealed the win with an interception on a long pass from Matthew Stafford. He gets better and better each game.
  • The Rams came out fired up, acting, talking, and trying to play tough. But you can't fake 'tough,' and as soon as the 49ers grabbed the momentum, the Rams started to fold, and no longer looked as tough.
  • The defensive line was great. They put a lot of pressure on Stafford. Arik Armstead, Arden Key, Nick Bosa, D.J. Jones, Kentavius Street, Samson Ebukam, and Kevin Givens all made plays on Sunday.
  • The offensive line held up well, especially considering they were playing against a good Rams defensive front, without Trent Williams.
  • Dre Greenlaw was everywhere. He looked fast, fresh and physical (12 total tackles). But he did some dumb things, too. He committed a couple of boneheaded personal foul penalties, and should have been called for another. Hopefully, he plays more under control next week.

  • There were some unsung heroes from the game, namely: Tom Compton (recovered a Garoppolo fumble), Colton McKivitz (filled in for Williams, and played well), and Kyle Juszczyk (filled in as the holder for Gould, following Wishnowsky's injury). Sometimes it's the little things that help you win games.

  • Kyle Shanahan called a great game in the second half. When he's on, no one is better. And to think, I had dozens of 49ers fans tweeting at me how "this loss is on Shanahan" and other junk like that. How soon they forget the days of Jim Tomsula, Chip Kelly, Mike Nolan, and Dennis Erickson.
  • Sean McVay's decision not to throw the ball on third down, late in regulation, gave the 49ers one more possession. If the Rams converted that third down, the game would have been over. But McVay wanted to be sure the clock didn't stop, so he ran the ball, instead of putting it in the air. I, for one, was very relieved to see that. A short pass to Cooper Kupp would have been hard to defend. San Francisco made McVay pay for that decision.

I'm so proud of this team. It's been an exhausting season. This team continues to be inconsistent, looking great one game, and bad the next...and great one half, bad the next. But they did what they needed to do to get into the playoffs.

Next up: The hated Dallas Cowboys. The last time to 49ers and Cowboys played in the playoffs? January 1995. This time, Steve Young, Jerry Rice, and Deion Sanders aren't playing. But neither are Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin.

Go Niners!
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.

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