49ers Week 6 Defensive Grades
The Rams entered Week 6 with the No. 6 overall scoring offense and had the fifth most rush yards, on average per game, in the league.
What did the Niners do? Well, coordinator Robert Saleh’s defense held Los Angeles to a mere 157 total yards and kept the Rams to a 0-of-9 mark on third down, then a 0-of-4 mark on fourth-down tries.
While the 49ers surrendered a quick rushing touchdown on the Rams’ opening possession, this side of the ball quickly clamped down and snuffed out nearly everything L.A. head coach Sean McVay and Co. tried to do.
San Francisco gave up a number of chunk rushes early in the game, and the Rams finished with 109 yards on the ground, yes. But that’s arguably the only mark against this unit, which had its way against a suspect Rams offensive line.
San Francisco managed four sacks of quarterback Jared Goff. But arguably the biggest set of plays were back-to-back goal-line stands on third and fourth down, respectively.
The Niners defensive front got the better of both, much to Saleh’s delight:
“I watch the defensive line as much as I can,” tight end George Kittle said after the game. “They are incredibly special.”
Kittle also said the Niners defense has been setting the tone, which was certainly true on Sunday.
Like the D-line, the only tick against the 49ers linebackers in this game was allowing L.A. to rush for over 100 yards.
Most of those stats came early in the game, though, so credit to the defensive front seven for adjusting.
Kwon Alexander led the defense with seven tackles, including one for a loss, while fellow backer Fred Warner managed six tackles and a quarterback hit. This tandem has been playing extremely well over the first third of the season, and the Niners defense is reaping the benefits.
Second-year cornerback Emmanuel Moseley continued to play well in the place of the starter, Ahkello Witherspoon, who is still out with a foot injury. But the bigger standouts were safeties Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt.
Ward was exceptional during the game, looking like the first-round-caliber player the Niners once envisioned him to be when they drafted him back in 2014. All Ward did was record five tackles, while breaking up two key passes.
In total, San Francisco’s secondary held Goff to a mere 78 yards passing, which marked a career low for the former No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick.
No interceptions from this group against a turnover-prone quarterback. But when the 49ers defensive backs are blanketing one of the best receiving tandems in the league, the A-plus grade is certainly warranted.