The San Francisco 49ers followed their worst performance of the season with their best.
A week ago, the Niners were coming off a humiliating 43-17 beatdown at the hands of Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Miami Dolphins. Jimmy Garoppolo was benched, the defense was a sieve and the offensive line couldn’t block a second-grader.
The play versus Miami portended a potential prime-time mess versus the 4-1 L.A. Rams on Sunday night. Instead, Kyle Shanahan’s team put on a clinic on getting the ball out quick, made Rams defenders miss in space and squelched the L.A. passing attack for a 24-16 victory.
“I think we always have a pretty big sense of urgency, but 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 Sunday, via the San Jose Mercury News. “We came in Monday and it was a hard day, but usually when stuff like that happens, guys either give in because it gets too hard and they try to hide and point fingers a little bit and just go through the motions or guys try to step it up and get better.
“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 get 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.”
The win was huge for a team decimated by injuries this season.
Shanahan called a marvelous game, protecting his QB and offensive line from wrecking ball Aaron Donald by getting the ball out quick and short and utilizing a host of motions, WR runs and pop passes.
Per Next Gen Stats, Jimmy G averaged just 2.38 seconds per throw, 4.4 air yards per attempt and 226 of his 268 passing yards came by targets after the catch.
Niners players got open with ease against the Rams secondary: 72.7 percent of Garoppolo’s targets came to “open” receivers (3-plus yds of separation) in Week 6 (only 36.4 percent in Weeks 1-5), per NGS.
After getting battered last week on his bulky ankle, Garoppolo wasn’t sacked, and the 49ers’ run game scampered for 122 total yards.
“I thought the O-line had a hell of a game,” Shanahan said. “Always wait to see the film, but I thought they cleared a bunch of good lanes for our backs. I thought they protected very well versus a very good front and the results, I think, speak for themselves. So, they did a hell of a job.”
The win was massive for the 49ers’ playoff hopes. Now they sit at 3-3 in the thick of the hunt. A loss would have put Shanahan’s team further down in the NFC West cellar.
The schedule only gets more difficult for the Niners, however. First is a trip to New England to face Garoppolo’s former team. Then San Francisco heads to Seattle, hosts Green Bay and travels to New Orleans.
The stretch will likely tell how the year will go for the defending NFC champs. Sunday was a big test passed. More sit on the horizon.
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