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For the second time in three weeks, the San Francisco 49ers were playing during primetime on Sunday Night Football albeit with drastically different results. Kyle Shanahan and Co. were able to get back on the winning side of things with a 24-16 victory over the division rival Los Angeles Rams. This game could prove to be a pivotal confidence builder with a daunting schedule of games coming up. Who’s rising and who’s falling before the 49ers head east to take on the New England Patriots?
Stock Up: Kyle (and Jimmy) Gets His Groove Back
Between injuries and poor offensive line/quarterback play, head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense has been, quite frankly, boring before Sunday night. That was all thrown out the window with the opening drive of the game. Shanahan and QB Jimmy Garoppolo operated a masterful first salvo that had the Rams completely on their heels. Shanahan kept Garoppolo on time with quick, easy passes that utilized the pass catchers’ ability to create with the ball in their hands. Confidence is key at quarterback and Garoppolo will need all he can moving forward.
Stock Down: Where is the Pressure?
Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s defensive line is one of the most beat up position groups in all of football. They are trotting out players that would not see the field if Nick Bosa or Dee Ford were healthy. That reared its ugly head Sunday night as the front four struggled to get any pressure on QB Jared Goff. He seemingly had all night to pick and choose his spots and the pass rush was bailed out by great cornerback play and Goff playing more like a goof. Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees are the next four quarterbacks on the schedule and no pressure will result in long, long afternoons for the defense.
Stock Up: Jason Verrett, CB1?
Cornerback Jason Verrett had more interceptions (1) than he allowed catches (0) against a very talented WR corps for L.A..His interception came on 4th and goal and did not just change the possession, it allowed the offense to start at the 20 instead of the 2-yard line. Verrett was all over the field in pass coverage and added three solo tackles in run support. His emergence at the team’s number one corner has been a revelation. Verrett’s career has been defined by a body that has failed him; through the first five years, he has only managed to play in double digit games once. Verrett has always had the ability and now that he is healthy, he is thriving in Saleh’s defense.
Stock Down: Injuries Bug Bites Again
Running back Raheem Mostert and center Ben Garland are the latest players headed to the injured reserve list for the 49ers. Mostert is clearly the team’s best running back and the offense operates with a different sense of urgency when he is running the ball. Mostert’s speed alone is a threat to take any regular handoff all the way to pay dirt. Up front, Garland has stepped in for starter Weston Richburg while he recovers from a knee injury. Now both players will be out for the foreseeable future, thrusting third-stringer Hroniss Grasu into the starting role. The patchwork lineup will have to continue the “next man up” mentality as it has all season long.
Stock Up: Deebo is Back
WR Deebo Samuel started the season on the IR and missed the first three games of the year. Through the first two games, he had five catches for 54 yards as it appeared that the 49ers were allowing him to ease his way back into playing. On Sunday night, he finally looked like he was back to his old ways. On just the second play of the game, Samuel took a shovel pass from Garoppolo around the left side, was hit, maintained his balance and continued to run after the defense thought he was down. His determination and awareness netted the offense an extra 30 yards and got the ball rolling and capped off the drive with another shovel pass taken in for a touchdown. Samuel’s six catches for 66 yards all came behind the line of scrimmage and played into his skill set as a creative runner.
Stock Up: OL Manhandles Aaron Donald
The offensive line has been a much-maligned group so far this season. Many have pointed their fingers at them for the woes the offense has faced. The Rams trotted out one of the best players in the NFL in defensive tackle Aaron Donald and he was totally neutralized. Donald, who had four sacks against the Washington Football Team, was held to just two tackles and one QB hit. It was the best performance Shanahan has seen from his group in 2020 and it helped Garoppolo get back on track. They will need to keep it up if they want the offense to carry the injury-riddled defense.
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