The San Francisco 49ers pulled off a thrilling, dramatic 34-31 win over the Los Angeles Rams in Week 16 despite being outplayed much of the contest. Niner Noise breaks down the key takeaways.
It sure feels the vast majority of San Francisco 49ers contests over the past five weeks have felt like playoff football. And given the postseason-seeding implications of each contest and how hotly contested the NFC is this season, the Niners’ last five games arguably have been.
And such was the case on Saturday night at Levi’s Stadium, where San Francisco managed a 34-31 victory over the Los Angeles Rams, pushing head coach Kyle Shanahan’s squad to 12-3 on the season while also ending the Rams’ bid for a return to the playoffs.
Kicker Robbie Gould‘s game-winning field goal was set up by two first-down conversions on 3rd-and-16, which highlighted quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo‘s abilities to at least come through in clutch situations. Garoppolo was far from perfect, going just 16-of-27 with one touchdown against two interceptions, although delivering in those key situations late is the mark of any good quarterback amid an otherwise tough night.
That was one key takeaways from the 49ers victory in prime time, although there are plenty of others.
Niner Noise breaks down five of the most crucial takeaways from Saturday night’s victory in Santa Clara.
No. 5: Jimmy Garoppolo Doesn’t Quite Trust a Makeshift O-Line
The 49ers offensive line once again dealt with injury attrition on Saturday, having backup lineman Daniel Brunskill step in at right guard for Mike Person, who was benched with a neck injury. Meanwhile, center Ben Garland struggled with shotgun snaps during the game, too, which is a problem the injured starter, Weston Richburg, wasn’t experiencing this season at all.
Overall, the Niners O-line had plenty of issues in pass protection, surrendering six sacks and allowing Garoppolo to be hit eight times.
What was apparent when Garoppolo was under pressure in this contest was how he would get the proverbial “happy feet” within the pocket, looking far more panicked than he had been at nearly every point prior to this season.
This is important, as O-line chemistry is tough to replicate. Changing combinations up front aren’t seamless or easy to manifest, so one might understand Garoppolo’s difficulty managing pressure for most of the game.
But if the 49ers want to win games in January, he’ll have to feel much more comfortable under center.