Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports


The 49ers aren’t going down without a fight

Oct 19, 2020 at 5:54 PM


In what was the closest thing to a must win game as you can have this early in the season, the San Francisco 49ers reminded everyone why it's not time to write them off yet. On a primetime stage, the 49ers delivered a performance that sent a powerful message to the rest of the league, that message being this team is still very good and should be feared. The Los Angeles Rams came into this Week 6 matchup playing some of the best football in the league through the first 5 weeks, and the 49ers made them look like a middling team at best. The game plan devised by head coach Kyle Shanahan and his staff was nothing short of brilliant, and the execution by the players was absolutely phenomenal.

The 49ers offense came out firing on all cylinders from the jump, putting together a methodical touchdown drive after receiving the opening kickoff, highlighted by the ability to get the ball in the hands of playmakers Deebo Samuel and George Kittle, allowing them to create yards after the catch, something at which they have proven to be nightmares for opposing defenses. The 49ers had 222 yards after the catch against the Rams, while quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo showed flashes of his 2019 self, doing a fantastic job rebounding from his poor performance last week vs the Dolphins by getting the ball out quickly and making timely throws in clutch moments. In a game the 49ers had to have, Garoppolo stepped up and made throws when he needed to and he deserves praise for helping guide the 49ers back into the win column.

The offense set the tone early, but the defense stole the show in the second half, with timely stops and a "bend but don't break" approach. The play of cornerback Jason Verrett was particularly superb, as he is in the midst of putting together a sensational season as he rebounds from a 4 year stretch that saw him miss 58 games due to injury. His interception of Rams quarterback Jared Goff on 4th-and-goal late in the third quarter turned the tide of the game and halted the rapid momentum the Rams were building while the 49er offense stalled. Verrett has allowed a passer rating of 7.8 when targeted this season, which leads the NFL.

Despite the key injuries the defense has sustained, the unit remains among the league's elite, currently ranked 4th in passing yards allowed per game, and 5th in total yards allowed per game. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh deserves a lot of credit for being able to adapt, as the 49ers have seen more than half of their opening day defensive starters miss at least one game due to injury. Saleh's willingness to call for blitzes more frequently and get more creative with his coverages has kept opposing offenses off balance and has kept the 49ers afloat as they attempt to remain in contention for a playoff spot.

The 49ers will look to carry this much needed momentum forward as they face a gauntlet in the next 6 games, when every team they face is a legitimate playoff contender. Bill Belichick's New England Patriots are the only team currently under .500 who the 49ers will see during that span. The 49ers' win over the Rams proved they should not be taken lightly by opposing teams, even with their decimated roster currently struggling to keep healthy bodies on the field consistently.

Some things are impossible to quantify on a stat sheet, as is the case with the heart and championship mentality this team possesses, and that's something that will make it very hard to project how this team will play moving forward. It is unrealistic to assume the hobbled 49ers will be able to consistently win games against superior teams in the same fashion they did against Rams. Then again, maybe the win sparks a run that puts the memories of a rough start firmly in the rear-view mirror. However, one thing is certain: when you have the talent and coaching the 49ers possess, you will always have a chance regardless of the opponent. Anything can happen on a given Sunday, and for now, the 49ers and the fanbase should relish in the afterglow of a convincing win against a strong opponent on national television.
The views 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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