Santa Clara – The Forty-Niners finally found their game, Jimmy Garoppolo connected with three of his receivers to score three touchdowns in the first half. George Kittle had a one hundred yard game and San Francisco ended their three-game losing streak by defeating the Los Angeles Rams 24-16.
Garoppolo made a comeback after a nasty high-ankle sprain that had him benched for the second half of last weeks game. Tonight, he was back to his old self, going 23-for-33 for 268 yards. His three touchdowns in the first half, marked the third time in his career, the first being last year on Halloween.
“Those were the run plays that we liked,” said 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. “It’s nice when you do that, you’ve got guys like Deebo and I think we threw one out to, I think it was [WR Brandon] Aiyuk on one of the others. Yeah, that always helps the quarterback, too, when you’re able to move down the field and have some run plays that count as pass plays. Gets you in a little bit of a rhythm and I think it helped.”
San Francisco used their run game more against their rivals and it worked. Short passes also helped Garoppolo not put too much pressure on his ankle in the pocket. San Francisco’s offensive line as a team rushed for 122 yards on 37 carries and did not allow a sack on 33 pass attempts by Garoppolo.
“Yeah, the ankle’s definitely, it’s made improvements this week,” Garoppolo said. “So, yeah, I could lean on it a little bit more, was able to move in the pocket a little bit, just was able to be myself really this week. It started with a good week of practice and got to thank the medical staff for doing their part.”
Last weeks practice was a game changer on how the 49ers came out tonight. After their embarrassing loss last week, they had nothing left but to give it their all on both sides of the ball. Garoppolo found Deebo Samuel in the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown on opening drive. Before the half ended, Garoppolo threw a short pass to Brandon Aiyuk for a 2-yard touchdown making it a 21-6 game to end the half.
Jared Goff and his offense had no answers for San Francisco’s smothering defense. Goff found Robert Woods in the end zone for a diving 10-yard touchdown catch in the second but Samuel Sloman’s extra point was blocked. Unable to still move his offense, LA had to settle for a 42-yard field goal in the third.
“Offensively, we just were never able to really get any sort of continuity,” said Rams head coach Sean McVay. “We had a lot of missed opportunities tonight. Some decisions that clearly I’ve got to do a better job with, but I think as a whole, there were just too many things that we’re not accustomed to doing. You give credit to the 49ers, they did a nice job, but we made a lot of uncharacteristic decisions.”
Goff got another opportunity on 4th-and-goal late in the third. Goff’s short pass intended for Malcolm Brown was intercepted by Jason Verrett in the end zone. Verrett recorded his first interception of the season and fifth of his career. Despite Goff’s 40-yard touchdown pass to Josh Reynolds late in the fourth, San Francisco squandered LA’s hope of a comeback.
“We’re just getting back to a brand of football we know we’re capable of playing,” DL Arik Armstead said. “Running the ball, moving the chains, taking the life out of defense, and then on defense big stops, three-and-outs, eliminating explosives, making them drive all the way down field to beat us. I think we just got back to playing like we know how to play.”
“I thought the O-Line as a whole, just did a phenomenal job,”said Garoppolo. “It started with the run game and then the pass game, the pockets were clean all night. I didn’t get hit very much. Felt great coming out of this game. When the O-Line plays like that, it sets the tone for our whole offense and they did it tonight.”
Kittle was finally able to connect with his quarterback, he finished the game with seven catches for 109 yards and a 44-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Kittle’s 10 year career, 100-yard games are the most by a Tight end in franchise history and ranked seventh among all players.
The 49ers needed this win before heading on the road for the next two weeks to face the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks before returning home to host the Green Bay Packers, then back on the road to face the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams again. There’s plenty of time for this team to recapture what they had last season.
“I think when you get embarrassed like we did last week, and when you get embarrassed like that, you can find out a lot about your team,” Shanahan said. “I was very impressed with the character of our team and just how the players carried themselves and the way they came out to practice on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday and really the way they responded to all of us getting embarrassed. They tried to get better this week and not worry about anything else. Usually when you do that and you can put together those types of practices, usually the results are better and I’m glad that they were because I thought they really earned it throughout the week and today.”
Photo by 49ers/Twitter