Monday night might have been the most complete performance from the San Francisco 49ers so far through the 2021 season. San Francisco played a clean game while leading the contest wire-to-wire in the decisive, 31-10, victory over the Los Angeles Rams. The 49ers have now won five-straight contests against the Rams, who entered Monday night sitting atop the division alongside the Arizona Cardinals.
Monday night's win marked the 49ers first win at Levi's® Stadium since Oct. 18, 2020, which also came against the Rams. Here are several notes from each side of the ball coming out of the primetime divisional win.
Lack of takeaways have been a point of emphasis for San Francisco, totaling just five across eight games. On Monday, San Francisco totaled two in the first half, both coming from safety Jimmie Ward. Ward was questionable heading into the game while working through a quad injury but hauled in two picks in the first quarter off of new Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford.
The first came by way of a deep throw by Stafford intended for newly-signed wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. The throw sailed past the wideout and landed perfectly in the arms of Ward. The second came on a pass that bobbled in the hands of tight end Tyler Higbee and was scooped up by the safety and returned for a touchdown, his first pick-six since 2015.
"Man, he had a heck of a game," linebacker Fred Warner said postgame. "Just this whole season, he's been killing it as an eraser back there, just owning the middle of the field. He's the best man coverage defender or DB, safety - doesn't matter. He's one of the best I've seen and one of the best tacklers I've been around.
"When he got that first (interception), I said 'you're gonna get a second one' and he got that second one. Man. I'm so happy for him. That was that was fun to watch. It's fun to play with a guy like that."
San Francisco's defense held Los Angeles to just 10 points on the day, 278 yards of net offense, 54 yards rushing and 16 first downs, all season lows.
Stafford finished his day completing 26-of-41 passes for 243 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions for a 67.4 passer rating.
In his debut with the Rams, Beckham Jr. caught two of his three targets for 18 yards.
The 49ers opened the game off of Ward's turnover, putting together a 93-yard drive that was capped off with an 8-yard touchdown pass to George Kittle, his second in back-to-back weeks. The unit followed up with a 93-yard drive that resulted in an 8-yard Deebo Samuel rushing score.
"It's pretty tough to go out there and play 18 plays straight, especially when the majority are running plays," left tackle Trent Williams said. "But if you want to establish any type of dominance, especially in the trenches, I think it is necessary. You've got to run the ball. You've got to make your opponents respect you."
San Francisco's first punt of the day didn't come until the third quarter after converting on a perfect 5-of-5 third down conversions. The team finished the day completing 8 of their 14 third down attempts.
The 49ers posted 335 yards of offense and 156 yards rushing while dominating the time of possession 39:03 to Los Angeles' 20:57.
Jimmy Garoppolo finished his day completing 15-of-19 passes for 182 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers for a 141.7 quarterback rating, a season-high.
Elijah Mitchell led San Francisco's backfield with 91 yards on 27 carries. Jeff Wilson Jr. saw 10 carries for 28 yards in his first look at snaps since returning from the Physically Unable to Perform list in Week 9.
Samuel was the highlight of the night. San Francisco's wideout was a perfect 5-for-5 on receptions for a team-high 97 yards and a score and added 36 yards on the ground on five carries and another score.
One of the highlights of the night came on a special teams play. On 4th-and-8 and an opportunity to cut the 49ers lead, a trick play on a pass from kicker Johnny Hekker to tight end Kendall Blanton was blown up on a tackle by D.J. Jones. On the play, Hekker rolled out right after the snap, but San Francisco's defense sniffed out the fake field goal ahead of the first down marker to force a turnover on downs.
Fifth-round pick Jaylon Moore got the start at right tackle in place of Mike McGlinchey, who was placed on season-ending Injured Reserve with a torn quad. Moore left the game in the first quarter with a knee injury and did not return. He was replaced by veteran offensive lineman Tom Compton. There's no word just yet on the extent of Moore's injury.