On the heels of a surprising blowout loss to the Miami Dolphins last week, the San Francisco 49ers scored a much-needed win Sunday night, as they defeated the Los Angeles Rams 24-16 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
The Niners put themselves back in the thick of things in the NFC playoff race with the win, as they improved to 3-3, while the Rams fell to 4-2 and now trail the NFC West-leading Seattle Seahawks by 1.5 games.
After a poor showing last week that resulted in him getting pulled from the game, 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo bounced back in a big way Sunday and thrived thanks to an offensive game plan that focused on high-percentage throws.
San Francisco dominated the game in most areas, as it outgained L.A. 390-311, won the time-of-possession battle 37:55-22:05 and had more first downs by a 24-17 margin.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, SF: 23/33 for 268 YDS, 3 TD, 0 INT
Raheem Mostert, RB, SF: 17 CAR for 65 YDS; 2 REC for 11 YDS (Left game—ankle)
Deebo Samuel, WR, SF: 6 REC for 66 YDS, 1 TD
George Kittle, TE, SF: 7 REC for 109 YDS, 1 TD
Jared Goff, QB, LAR: 19/38 for 198 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT
Darrell Henderson Jr., RB, LAR: 14 CAR for 88 YDS
Robert Woods, WR, LAR: 4 REC for 29 YDS, 1 TD; 2 CAR for 11 YDS
Josh Reynolds, WR, LAR: 2 REC for 49 YDS, 1 TD
Garoppolo Carves Up Rams on High-Percentage Throws
Jimmy G was under the microscope entering Sunday's game after what happened last week against the Dolphins, but he was up to the task and rose to the occasion on the Sunday Night Football stage.
Garoppolo wasn't himself last week against Miami, as the ankle injury he suffered a few weeks earlier clearly impacted his ability to push off on his throws and prompted head coach Kyle Shanahan to remove him from the game.
This week was a different story, as Garoppolo was primarily tasked with making short throws and letting his playmakers do the rest of the work.
That was on full display on the opening drive of the game, which ended in a six-yard touchdown pass from Garoppolo to Deebo Samuel, although it was more of a glorified run on a jet sweep:
Per Next Gen Stats, Garoppolo didn't throw a single pass beyond the line of scrimmage on the first drive:
Josh Dubow of the Associated Press put the drive further into perspective:
Garoppolo continued to rely on short throws throughout the first half, although he deserved plenty of credit for a 44-yard touchdown pass he threw to tight end George Kittle to help extend the lead to 14-0 early in the second quarter:
Kittle did plenty of run-after-the-catch work on the play, but Jimmy G showed plenty of poise by putting the ball right where it needed to be on 4th-and-2.
Garoppolo threw his third touchdown pass of the half with less than two minutes remaining when he found rookie wideout Brandon Aiyuk on 3rd-and-goal to help give San Francisco a 15-point lead entering the break:
Jimmy G and the Niners offense could only muster three points in the second half, but with the San Francisco defense mostly holding the Rams in check, it was enough to cement the win.
Garoppolo will undoubtedly look to play a more complete game next week, but he took a huge step in the right direction Sunday.
Goff Struggles Mightily in Poor Offensive Showing
While Garoppolo turned in perhaps his best performance of the 2020 season, Rams quarterback Jared Goff unquestionably had his worst showing.
The Rams were unable to move the ball with any type of consistency throughout the game, and Goff completed a mere 50 percent of his passes in the loss.
Cameron DaSilva of USA Today summed up Goff's struggles well:
One of the biggest issues for Goff on Sunday night was the fact that he seemingly couldn't get on the same page with slot receiver Cooper Kupp, who is usually one of his most-trusted targets.
DaSilva highlighted a miscommunication between Goff and Kupp on a deep pass that could have gone for a touchdown and changed the complexion of the game:
After running back Darrell Henderson Jr. ran hard and helped get the Rams in scoring position in the third quarter, Goff hit Kupp right in the hands on a 3rd-and-goal situation, but Kupp dropped it.
Goff was then intercepted by Jason Verrett in the end zone on an ill-advised throw on the next play, and the Rams came away with no points:
Will Brinson of CBS Sports explained the turn of events:
Goff finally broke through with 3:24 remaining in regulation when he threw a deep ball to Josh Reynolds, who fought through pass interference to catch a 40-yard touchdown:
That helped the Rams pull to within eight and made Goff's stat line look better, but L.A. was unable to complete the comeback.
Had Goff and the Rams offense found their rhythm earlier in the game, perhaps it could have been a different result for head coach Sean McVay's team.
Meanwhile, the Rams will attempt to get back on track against the one-loss Chicago Bears, who they will host on Monday Night Football on Oct 26.