Key reasons why SF 49ers pulled off upset win vs. LA Rams

Jason Verrett #22 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
Jason Verrett #22 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /

The SF 49ers were supposed to be completely overrun by the visiting LA Rams in Week 6, but these key factors ensured the Niners pulled off the upset.

Beautiful bright sunny mornings are such a joy to see and this is especially true after a good quality win.

The SF 49ers hosted the Los Angeles Rams for their Week 6 Sunday night showdown at Levi’s Stadium. After being embarrassed and humbled for back-to-back games, the SF 49ers knew they couldn’t afford another early season loss.

Kudos to the SF 49ers offensive line

Well, look who finally decided to show up after weeks of miscommunication and blown assignments: the offensive line!

Such a wonderful performance against one of the most dominant defensive tackles to ever play the game, and they did it for a full 60 minutes. Aaron Donald, arguably today’s most feared interior defensive linemen, was pretty much held in check throughout the entirety of the game.  Donald was in on 63 of the Rams defensive snaps but only came away with two total tackles, one solo and one quarterback QB hit. Most of the credit for Donald’s neutralization will probably go to head coach Kyle Shanahan and his staff.

However, if one delves a little deeper into the film, you’ll notice some amazing individual blocking by interior guard Daniel Brunskill.

On plays where Donald was matched up with Brunskill one on one, the SF 49ers lineman proved he was up for the challenge by stifling Donald on more than one occasion. There was even a stretch in the game during the second half when Donald sat out for multiple snaps. At the time, it was unclear whether or not this was injury related or strictly player preservation. The Niners were doing such a great job at minimizing Donald’s effectiveness, perhaps the Rams decided to keep him as fresh as possible for their next match.

In any case, thanks to some nice short play calls, the SF 49ers were able to take advantage of the quick game behind stellar offensive line play. The game plan was extremely solid because it catered to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who is still recovering from a high-ankle sprain suffered in Week 2. Although the Rams blitzed Garoppolo eight times, he was only pressured three times, hurried once and hit twice.

None of the hits he sustained were major enough to set his injury back, so the 49ers can breathe a sigh of relief moving forward.

Role reversal for SF 49ers defense

When you think about the 49ers defense and how it was built, we typically envision a dominant front seven stacked with the first-round talent across the defensive line.

However, the injury bug has been relentless in 2020, and San Francisco seems to have the most serious case of it. Due to all of the overwhelming amount of injuries, the SF 49ers had to mix and match a ton of their reserve linemen with the hopes of continuing their dominance until some of the starters return.

As we approach Week 7  of the regular season, the Niners are a middle-of-the-pack defense. Due to the lack of consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks, the pass defense has regressed while we’ve seen steady improvements with the run defense.

One of the more impressive aspects of the SF 49ers win over the Rams was the collective effort from the secondary. With the return of cornerback Emmanuel Moseley, the Niners received a huge defensive boost. During Moseley’s brief two-game absence due to concussion concerns, the SF 49ers were torched through the air and weren’t getting home with their front four to finish the quarterback.

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As San Francisco continues its quest for six, I’ll be looking out for weekly improvements to go along with some in-game adjustments. Teams have been making more of an effort to take away the zone-running scheme, and if this coaching staff wants to prove their worth, the Niners are going to need to keep pace with the rest of the league.