SF 49ers Defensive Grades vs. LA Rams
For the better part of three quarters, the Niners defense absolutely stymied Jared Goff. This unit also bottled up Los Angeles’ ground attack for the bulk of the game, too, often being asked to come up with play after play in response to some of San Francisco’s own offensive ineptitude.
Two stats stand out for coordinator Robert Saleh’s defense: yards allowed and takeaways.
The Rams entered Week 12 averaging 397.3 yards per game, yet the SF 49ers held them to 308. And the Niners forced three turnovers, too, with one of those resulting in a defensive touchdown.
Solid effort all around here.
EDGE Kerry Hyder recorded two sacks in the game, bringing his total on the season to a team-high 7.5, which is just half a sack shy of his career-best total of eight set back with the Detroit Lions in 2016.
But Hyder didn’t have arguably the most shocking play of the game, a pick-six touchdown off Goff by none other than the rookie, defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw:
“I saw the ball come out, and I was like yeah, ‘we goin’ to the crib,'” Kinlaw told reporters after the game.
Certainly a strong performance from Kinlaw, while defensive end Arik Armstead was a massive force in San Francisco’s efforts limiting LA’s rushing offense to 126 yards, most of which were gained in the fourth quarter.
For three quarters, a good bulk of the SF 49ers defense regularly found itself in the backfield, and linebacker Dre Greenlaw was one of those players, picking up a tackle for a loss to go along with his six combined tackles in the game.
Fellow linebacker Fred Warner also had six tackles with a quarterback hit, too, and this unit was particularly important ensuring the Rams took too long to get any sort of offensive rhythm going.
Solid overall performance from this group.
Richard Sherman made his impact felt after missing each game since suffering a calf injury way back in Week 1, recording his 36th career interception in the first half.
The Niners weren’t able to generate points off the turnover, turning the ball over themselves a few plays later. But that didn’t stop Sherman, who ended up leading the defense with seven tackles.
But one could also highlight safety Jimmie Ward, who was all over the place during the game. He forced two fumbles and also got in the way of one pass, looking much more like the defensive “eraser” he was during San Francisco’s 2019 Super Bowl run.
It was easily Ward’s best game of the season.
One could make the argument the SF 49ers’ best highlight of the game, however, was limiting Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp, Goff’s favorite target, to just two catches for 41 yards.
That was a win.
If there was a loss, the Niners do fear they’ve lost nickel cornerback Jamar Taylor to an ACL tear, but hopefully he’s thrilled with his unit’s efforts on Sunday nonetheless.