49ers grades from Week 10 smashing of Rams on Monday night
By Peter Panacy
49ers Defensive Grades
If the only thing you knew about this game was the score, you might have figured Los Angeles was the team that put up 31 points, because that’s how potent Sean McVay’s offense can be even after it lost wide receiver Robert Woods during the week to a season-ending injury.
That said, it was the much-maligned Niners defense that put on a show, particularly early with two interceptions by safety Jimmie Ward, which set the tone for the game.
Defensive Line: C
San Francisco’s pass rush didn’t get home much during the game, and it’s clear defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans is in desperate need of a complementary pass-rusher to support EDGE Nick Bosa, who at least had a sack despite being held and chipped frequently throughout.
Reserve EDGE Arden Key added the 49ers’ other sack, though, and one could make the argument some of that pressure forced Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford into some frequently errant throws.
Stafford didn’t get help from many of his receivers, though, and drops were a problem.
It’s great to see All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner back playing at an All-Pro level again.
Warner, the Niners’ defensive tone-setter, set that tone with eight tackles during the game and one near interception. But it’s possible to make the argument San Francisco’s best linebacker in the game was third-year pro Azeez Al-Shaair, who not only delivered some big hits but also tied Warner in team tackles, too, also registering two of those for a loss.
Stafford was still able to pass for 243 yards, and that number should have been a lot higher if some of his targets were able to hold onto passes in wide-open situations.
If there’s a good note, cornerback Josh Norman’s name wasn’t called much, and San Francisco was flagged for only one defensive pass-interference call and another defensive hold, both on nickel cornerback K’Waun Williams, the latter wiping out what would have been a very unique interception on the night.
Not a perfect night from this group, but at least Los Angeles had to be responsible for its own mistakes.
It’s great to see rookie safety Talanoa Hufanga come of age, and he made some key impact plays on two phases of the game, delivering a key hit on a would-be third-down conversion that ultimately resulted in an incomplete pass.
But the defensive star of the 49ers’ night was Ward, whose interception at the end of Los Angeles’ opening possession was only outdone by his second, which resulted in a 27-yard return for a touchdown:
From there, the Niners never had to look back.
San Francisco entered the game with just two interceptions on the season but doubled that count by the end of Week 10. Also of note, Ward hadn’t had an interception since 2016, long before Kyle Shanahan’s tenure as head coach.
Perhaps Ward was simply due and then some.