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Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

49ers Notebook: Jimmy G shines; Stronger in the second half; Robbie Gould-Jalen Ramsey Round 2

Oct 30, 2022 at 8:26 PM--

After a deflating and demoralizing 44-23 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs one week earlier, the mood around the San Francisco 49ers was decidedly different after their 31-14 bounceback win over the Los Angeles Rams Sunday.

The 49ers didn't look like much of a postseason contender against the Chiefs, but things felt different against the Rams. They had their ups and downs in the first half en route to a 14-10 halftime deficit, but they shut out the Rams in the second half while pulling away on offense to seal the win. Recently-acquired running back Christian McCaffrey had an historic performance, and in a rarity for the 49ers, no new injuries occurred in the game. All in all, head coach Kyle Shanahan couldn't find too much to complain about afterwards.

"I'm really happy and proud of the team today," Shanahan said after the game. "It was all three phases, all the players. We needed everybody and everyone had their part."

The 49ers now head into their bye week with momentum, and in a much better spot than they'd be if they would have lost to the Rams. They stayed one game back of the Seahawks in the NFC West and moved to 3-0 in the division, keeping them in contention after an up-and-down first half of the season. It's too soon to tell if the 49ers are on the verge of a repeat of 2021, which saw them get hot at the right time over the second half of the season and make a run to the NFC Championship game, but they at least took a big step in the right direction Sunday.

"Going into the bye week 3-5 makes it a lot more depressing of a bye week," Shanahan said. "I'm very well aware of the record. 4-4 is one game better but it feels a hell of a lot better than 3-5. But you've got to be prepared for that either way. I've been 5-0 and haven't made the playoffs. I've been 3-6 before and made it, been 3-5 and made it. So none of that stuff I try to get too caught up in. It's about getting better throughout injuries, throughout the year. I feel there's a couple things we've done the last two weeks where I feel that's going the right direction. Offensively we've had to overcome some injuries on defense. But really to get this win right now, get into the bye, those guys have earned it. Hopefully they can get healthier, get some guys back and definitely put ourselves in a much better position to come back and try to make a run at this."

Amid the positive vibes and frequent chatter about McCaffrey's big performance, there were other issues of interest discussed after the win Sunday. Here's a quick rundown in this version of 49ers Notebook.

Jimmy G's best game of 2022?

Lost in the praise of McCaffrey was the fact the 49ers got a clean performance from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Garoppolo nearly got picked on one play when Rams defensive back Jalen Ramsey jumped in front of one of his passes and almost made an interception, but Garoppolo was on point far more than not, completing 21-of-25 passes for 235 yards, two touchdowns, zero interceptions and a passer rating of 132.5.

Garoppolo's performance in the second half helped the 49ers pull away and drew praise from Shanahan after the game.

"He made some big-time plays there," Shanahan said. "...Dwelley down the sidelines was huge. I thought he was real good on third down. I know Ramsey got his hands on that one where he was a blitzer and then he just stopped, so that one kind of surprised him. For the most part I thought Jimmy was good with the ball."

Much better in the second half

Second half woes were a storyline of the loss to the Chiefs, which saw the 49ers fall to 1-30 in the Shanahan era when trailing by three or more points heading into the fourth quarter. They came close to facing that situation on Sunday but took the lead late in the third quarter and didn't give it up.

The 49ers were down just one point at halftime against the Chiefs (14-13) before collapsing in the second half, so naturally it was something the team focused on this week.

"Honestly, we talked about it as skill guys," Garoppolo said. "I think that's when the game's won -- at the beginning of the third quarter. We had a chance to come out and take advantage of that, and I thought guys did. We calmed down. We settled into our game plan. Guys just stuck with it and I think the results speak for themselves."

Their inconsistencies over the first seven of the season left many scratching their heads over how a team as talented as the 49ers isn't more prolific on offense. But they got the job done in the second half on Sunday, which ideally will be a sign of things to come.

"With all those skill position (players), there isn't a ceiling, really," tight end George Kittle said. We should go out there, we should be getting a lot of points. That was the biggest difference between this week and last week -- we scored touchdowns. When you score touchdowns, you win games."

The NFL's weirdest feud?

At one point in Sunday's game, 39-year-old 49ers kicker Robbie Gould seemingly came close to getting into it with Ramsey -- for the second time in three games.

Ramsey and Gould were caught on camera during last year's NFC Championship game getting in each other's faces. On Sunday, Ramsey gave Gould a couple shoves following a kick.

Gould spoke about that moment following the game with NBC Sports Bay Area. He downplayed it a little bit, with a dose of humor.

"It's just a rivalry game," Gould said. "I think everyone understands the significance of it. I think he asked me for my jersey for Christmas, probably. That's probably the easiest thing to say in those situations. But we won, and just move on to the next."

But maybe it's all part of the plan for the 49ers. Long snapper Taybor Pepper's comments after the game suggested the specialists know what they're doing when it comes to Ramsey.

"After last year I was told to not intervene so we could get a penalty," Pepper told NBC Sports Bay Area. "We know who Jalen is. We know all those guys. It's a rivalry game in the NFL. It's going to get chippy. It's going to get lots of words exchanged."

Will there be another round between Gould and Ramsey? With the Rams at 3-4 after their second loss of the season to the 49ers Sunday, we may have to wait until 2023 to find out.

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