The San Francisco 49ers rode their defense to a season sweep of the rival Los Angeles Rams. With the sweep, San Francisco has now won the last four meetings between the longtime NFC West foes. The victory keeps the 49ers in contention for the playoffs. It was a hard-fought battle between two talented teams. San Francisco needed a last-second field goal to get the victory. Today we take a look at the biggest stories coming out of Sunday’s victory.
With the 49ers victory on Sunday, San Francisco has now swept the Rams in back to back seasons. Since 2000, the 49ers have accomplished this feat just once, from 2008-2009. The head coach during that stretch? None other than the two-headed monster of Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary. Yes, the two coaches who did so much with the likes of a young Frank Gore, Joe Staley, and Patrick Willis. If the 49ers can sweep the Rams next season, it would be the longest win streak over their division rival since the late 1990s. Oh how sweep it is!
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Much like the first meeting this season, the 49ers can point to Deebo Samuel as the catalyst on offense. Samuel made his first start since week seven against New England. After missing three games, Samuel made his presence felt with strong runs after the catch and was instrumental in getting the 49ers in position for the game-winning field goal.
Just like riding a bike for Deebo Samuel.pic.twitter.com/q91UcPkA3U
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) November 30, 2020
Samuel finished the game with 11 receptions for 133 yards receiving. Overall, he was targeted 13 times and spent much of the game against cornerback Jalen Ramsey, the Rams’ best coverage option. On a few occasions, Samuel was able to break the initial tackle attempt and pick up chunks of yards, turning two-yard routes into seven-yard gains or more.
Mullens Manages the Victory
Quarterback Nick Mullens has had a rough 2020 season. In his first start of the season against the Giants, he threw for over 340 yards and added a touchdown. He followed that with an awful showing against the Eagles in front of a national audience and has shown the deficiencies in his game. Against the Rams, Mullens struggled to get in a rhythm. The quarterback threw his seventh interception through seven games this season. The Los Angeles pass rush troubled Mullens but his inability to get rid of the football did not offer any assistance.
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San Francisco’s offense struggled with turnovers on the day which provided every opportunity for the Rams to stay in the ballgame. However, in the game’s waning moments, Kyle Shanahan called a solid series of plays which allowed his quarterback to manage the final drive. Mullens hit on a quick slant to Deebo Samuel that moved the 49ers near midfield with just under two minutes left. Mullens’ accuracy allowed Samuel to continue downfield for yards after the catch. With Jalen Ramsey diving to break up the pass, an errant throw likely results in an interception and a chance for the Rams to win the game. If Mullens can continue to manage the game, the 49ers will be in a position to win football games.
Uncle Sherm and the Defense
Robert Saleh’s defense received a boost from the return of cornerback Richard Sherman. The elder statesman of the defense, Sherman had been out following the team’s season opener. While the 49ers have not seen a significant dropoff without their veteran cornerback, his return seemed to push the defense to a higher level on Sunday. The defense forced four turnovers against the Rams, three of which were attributed to quarterback Jared Goff.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) November 29, 2020
The secondary clamped down on the Los Angeles passing attack, holding Goff to 198 yards passing, on 19 of 31 passing including two interceptions. While Goff struggled to find open receivers downfield, the pass rush kept the Los Angeles quarterback on his toes. Defensive end Kerry Hyder Jr. continued his surprising season as he collected another sack, bringing his total to 7.5 sacks on the year. Not to be outdone, Javon Kinlaw added to the fun with his first career interception and touchdown. Kinlaw stopped his pass rush and got his hands on a Goff pass to a receiver underneath. The big man showed exceptional athleticism as he dodged multiple Rams on his way to the 27-yard interception return. As it did in the first meeting, the defense served as the catalyst in the San Francisco sweep.
Javon Kinlaw! The rookie takes it all the way for a pick-6! #FTTB
— NFL (@NFL) November 29, 2020
News broke on Saturday night that the 49ers were likely on the search for an alternate practice and game site. Santa Clara County officials imposed a ban on contact sports which forced the move by the 49ers. San Francisco found a willing partner in their divisional foe, the Arizona Cardinals. The teams will now share the facilities in Glendale, Arizona for the next few weeks. The 49ers “host” the Buffalo Bills on Monday night football. Buffalo presents a potential problem for the 49ers defense as Bills quarterback, Josh Allen, is a threat with his legs. The 49ers have struggled against mobile quarterbacks over the last few seasons and the overall talent on the Buffalo roster will be a challenge.
– Ryan Adverderada is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage 49ers. He also covers the Arizona Cardinals for Full Press Coverage. Like and follow on Follow @ryanadverderada