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Home » 49ers Salvage Season With Gutsy Win Over The Rams; What Now?

49ers Salvage Season With Gutsy Win Over The Rams; What Now?

The San Francisco 49ers entered Sunday night’s game against the 4-1 Los Angeles Rams losers of two consecutive and in last place in the NFC West.

Ignoring for a second the widespread injuries San Francisco had dealt with through the first five weeks of the 2020 NFL season, this is not where the defending conference champs wanted to be heading into a brutal seven-game stretch.

In must-win territory at Levi’s Stadium Sunday evening, the 49ers came to play big time. They took an early 7-0 lead following a 76-yard drive on their opening possession. San Francisco would ultimately go up 14-0 on a 44-yard touchdown strike from Jimmy Garoppolo to George Kittle.

Boasting a 21-6 halftime lead, San Francisco’s offense stalled in the second half. It scored just three points. However, the performance of the team’s defense kept the Rams at length. In the end, the 49ers pulled off a hard-fought 24-16 victory.

Here’s some key takeaways from this game.

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Jimmy Garoppolo Still Isn’t 100%

After being benched at halftime of San Francisco’s ugly blowout loss to the Miami Dolphins back in Week 5, Garoppolo came to play Sunday evening. The embattled quarterback completed 22-of-33 passes for 268 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Kyle Shanahan made it easy on Garoppolo throughout the evening, calling quick strikes and intermediate passes to mask his injury and the 49ers’ offensive line issues. Even then, it was clear that Garoppolo is still not 100% recovered from the high-ankle sprain he suffered back in Week 2.

When Will Jimmy Garoppolo Be 100%?

That’s now a major question heading into Week 7 against the New England Patriots. Typically, high-ankle sprains can take up to six weeks to heal completely. That obviously depends on the severity of the injury.

Remember, Garoppolo wanted to play one week after being sidelined. He missed two full games before seemingly being rushed back on to the field in Week 5. Despite this, there’s little concern that Garoppolo will miss time moving forward. It’s all about playing through said injury for now.

JaMycal Hasty Shows Out Following Raheem Mostert’s Injury

This is no small thing. Mostert exited early in the third quarter with an ankle injury and did not return. San Francisco’s offense was bogged down for the most part after that. Primarily, Shanahan opted to use the same scheme that he had implemented with Mostert in the game. That might not have been the best decision.

Enter into the equation this undrafted rookie free agent from Baylor. Splitting time between the practice squad and active roster, Hasty has now earned a full-time spot on the 53. The young man put up 37 yards on nine attempts. However, he also helped blead the clock towards the end of the game after the Rams made it a one-score affair.

This came in the confines of the same game that saw Jerick McKinnon put up just 18 yards on six attempts.

Details of Raheem Mostert’s Injury

This is yet another brutal blow for the 49ers. On Monday, it was noted that Mostert suffered a high-ankle sprain during Week 5’s win over the Rams. He’s now headed for short-term injured reserve and will miss at least the next three games.

The stud back had put up 76 yards on 19 touches prior to going down Sunday and has been brilliant this season despite missing two games to injury. In fact, Mostert has put up 453 total yards at a clip of 7.3 yards per touch in four games this season. With Mostert sidelined, Hasty, McKinnon and Jeff Wilson will share ball-carrying duties. Remember, Tevin Coleman also remains on injured reserve.

Jason Verrett’s Big Game

It’s a great story. A former first-round pick of the Chargers, Verrett’s career started with a bang. He earned a Pro Bowl trip in Southern California as a sophomore back in 2015. Unfortunately, injuries had limited the stud corner to seven games since the end of the 2015 campaign leading up to Week 6.

Getting the start with Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon still sidelined to injury, Verrett came to play big time Sunday evening. That included a game-changing interception of Jared Goff in the end zone.

According to Pro Football Focus, Verrett played every single defensive snap for the 49ers. He put up his highest single-game grade since 2015 (93.6). Thus far this season, Verrett is allowing the fewest yards per coverage snap in the NFL. He legit looks like a shutdown cornerback.

Significance Of Jason Verrett’s Return To Form

“Jason’s been great. You guys could see him in his coverages today,” Shanahan told reporters after the game. “The play he made down in the red zone, the play he almost picked. He almost had his hands on a few of them. I know he got that one, but he almost had a number of them. And not just how he covers, but Jason’s a man out there.”

Once the 49ers get Sherman back from injury, hopefully here soon, they’ll have a decision to make. Emmanuel Moseley played great football on Sunday, too. However, it’s hard for San Francisco to keep Verrett off the field given just how dominant he’s been thus far this season.

There’s a possibility that one of them can play in the slot given that K’Waun Williams is currently on injured reserve. With that said, the combo of Sherman and Verrett on the outside can help the 49ers overcome the edge pass rush issues we’ve seen with Nick Bosa and Dee Ford sidelined.

San Francisco 49ers Offensive Line Shines

This unit had given up 24 quarterback hits and 10 sacks during its two-game losing streak. New left tackle Trent Williams was terrible during that span. Meanwhile, the 49ers’ guard play left a whole heck of a lot to be desired.

To be clear, San Francisco did change its protection strategy Sunday evening. It doubled likely NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald throughout the game. The end result was Donald racking up just one quarterback hit and zero sacks. Shanahan was impressed.

“I thought the O-line had a hell of a game. I always wait to see the film, but I thought they cleared a bunch of good lanes for our backs,” the head coach said. “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.”

We saw a combination of max protection and quick strikes from the 49ers’ passing game. Shanahan knew full well that the status quo wasn’t working. Changing it up helped Garoppolo receive a clean pocket throughout the game. He was hit just three times and wasn’t sacked once.

What To Expect From The 49ers’ Offensive Line Moving Forward?

Right tackle Mike McGlinchey put up the best performance of his season Sunday evening. Trent Williams allowed one quarterback hit. These are the two anchors of the 49ers’ offensive line. This unit’s ability to continue playing at a high level will depend heavily on them.

Even then, there’s still some concern over the interior of the 49ers’ offensive line. That could be masked if the 49ers don’t need to send help to either McGlinchey or Williams’ side. It’s what we saw Sunday, and it worked out to perfection. Whether this continues with center Ben Garland likely headed to injured reserve remains to be seen.

Other Quick Week 6 Notes

* Tight end George Kittle caught 7-of-10 targets for 109 yards and a touchdown Sunday evening. The All-Pro has now recorded 10 100-plus yards games in his 49ers career. That’s a franchise record for a tight end. All said, Kittle is catching 79% of his targets in four games this season.

* After some struggles in the passing game since returning from a Jones’ fracture of the foot that cost him the first three games of the season, Deebo Samuel was back up to his old tricks Sunday night. He caught all six of his targets for 66 yards. The 49ers will need more of the same from their No. 1 receiver moving forward.

* Jimmy Garoppolo is now a perfect 4-0 in his career against the Los Angeles Rams. The 49ers have now also won three in a row against Los Angeles after being swept back in 2018. That could be huge moving forward with San Francisco still playing catch up in the NFC West. The two will do battle once again Week 12 in Southern California.

Where Do The 49ers Go From Here?

In no way is one win going to change up the dynamics of the season. San Francisco has a ton of injuries it is dealing with.

The team is 3-3 on the campaign and would currently be battling for one of the three wild card spots in the NFC. With the Seahawks at a perfect 5-0, it’s hard to even think about the division right now. That’s magnified by the fact that San Francisco has a brutal six-game stretch upcoming.

San Francisco 49ers Schedule

Week 7: AT-New England Patriots (2-3)

Week 8: AT- Seattle Seahawks (5-0)

Week 9: VS- Green Bay Packers (4-1)

Week 10: AT- New Orleans Saints (3-2)

Week 12: AT- Los Angeles Rams (4-2)

Week 13: VS- Buffalo Bills (4-1)

Realistically, San Francisco has to come out of this stretch with a 7-5 record if the team wants to be in playoff contention. A .500 mark might do it.

However, remaining games against the Seahawks and Cardinals after this brutal stretch makes things more difficult.

At the very least, San Francisco was able to end its two-game losing streak with an upset win over the Rams. It could very well be a harbinger of things to come moving forward on the season.

Source: Forbes – Business

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