5 takeaways from the San Francisco 49ers' Week 6 win over the Los Angeles Rams
Week 6 of the NFL season saw an intriguing matchup between two playoff contenders in the NFC West, where a spirited Los Angeles Rams squad succumbed 24-16 to last season's NFC Super Bowl representative, the San Francisco 49ers.
In a bruising encounter at Levi's Stadium, the return of QB Jimmy Garroppolo (albeit on one leg...) proved pivotal to the home team's success, as he threw for 268 yards and three touchdowns without an interception.
Wide receiver Deebo Samuel, tight end George Kittle and running back Raheem Mostert each helped themselves to a touchdown, with Kittle's 44-yard reception the most impressive of the bunch.
As well as they played, the 49ers defense did give up yards to a talented Rams' offensive outfit, but led by linebacker Fred Warner, they came up big in clutch moments to keep L.A.'s third-down conversion rate to a measly 4 out of 12.
The Rams tried to make a game of it. QB Jared Goff rebounded from an early interception to throw TD passes to Robert Woods and Josh Reynolds, but the 49ers kept Goff's completion rate down to 50 percent, and the Rams were never able to make up the early ground conceded.
The 4-2 Rams remain in second place in the NFC West, right behind the 5-0 Seattle Seahawks. The 49ers remain rooted to the bottom of possibly the league's strongest division, but at 3-3 and with the returns of some key members of the squad, this is a team more than capable of a playoff run.
Here are five takeaways from the 49ers' win over the Rams.
5. George Kittle is just as good of a blocker as he is a receiver for the 49ers
George Kittle is one of those players for which you run out of superlatives.
Against the Rams, the 49ers' Pro Bowl tight end caught seven passes for 109 yards and a touchdown. Averaging 15.6 yards per catch is a great number for a wide receiver, let alone a tight end.
I'll leave the vivid descriptions to the poets and let the man's stats speak for themselves.
It's not just in the receiving game that "The People's Tight-End" (thank you, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) is coming out on top though. His work in the run game as a blocker has come on tremendously over the past couple seasons and he's proving to be a real asset for 49ers backs Raheem Mostert and Jerrick McKinnon.
4.Fred Warner isn't getting enough respect
49ers linebacker Fred Warner put on an outstanding performance on Sunday. He finished with seven tackles and was a constant thorn in both the passing and rushing attack of the Rams' offense.
Warner is rapidly becoming one of the leaders on this team. To watch him organize the defense pre-snap, chase down rushers and to come up with big hits on receivers on short slants stirred memories of former Carolina Panthers' star linebacker Luke Kuechly.
3.Jason Verrett's return is huge for the 49ers
It says a lot that the 49ers were able to exit Sunday's game with very few fans discussing injured cornerback Richard Sherman.
An effervescent Sherman is still one of the NFL's best corners, and you'd expect his absence to be felt.
So why isn't it so?
Enter Jason Verrett. The talented 49ers CB has been plagued by injuries (torn ACL in 2016, torn Achilles in 2018) but is a game-changer in pass coverage when healthy.
Verett finished the game with two pass deflections and picked off Jared Goff in the end zone for an interception when he burst in between two Rams receivers to acrobatically claim the ball.
QBs facing the 49ers need to be aware of this man whose passer rating allowed is just 14.6 when he's the nearest defender in coverage (2nd in the league).
2. Jared Goff and Cooper Kupp struggled to connect
This time last year, Cooper Kupp was one of the more productive receivers in the NFL. But with just two TDs so far this season -- and just two catches for 11 yards on Sunday -- it's safe to say things haven't quite hit the highs of last year.
Goff targeted the route-running supremo on numerous occasions, for some unknown reason, the duo just couldn't get it together. Kupp even dropped a pass in the end zone.
If the Rams are to make a genuine run at the playoffs, they are going to need a lot more out of Kupp.
1. Did the 49ers figure out how to stop Aaron Donald?
Many agree that -- outside of the QB position -- Aaron Donald is the best player in the entire NFL.
The Rams' defensive tackle is a juggernaut. Each team he goes against sets out to double team him to stop him from getting to the QB. So far this season, each of those teams has learned one key thing: It doesn't work.
Donald tops the league in sacks with 7.5 QB takedowns. Can anyone stop the man they call "Cheat Code"?
On Sunday, the 49ers may have figured it out.
Donald finished the contest with just one tackle and a single QB hurry. Huge credit must be given to the 49ers' offensive line, particularly tackle Daniel Brunskill for coming out on top against Donald when it was needed most.
It would be unfair to say anything too negative about Donald's performance considering he usually has to better at least two blockers on route to a sack, but he was very quiet. This leads us to think that offensive coordinators across the league will be assessing plenty of tape on this game to see if they can catch wind of how to stop him going forward.