Unlike in Week 1, the 49ers provided plenty of fodder for both the studs and duds category in the team’s Week 2 win over the Rams.
It was a choppy, chippy game, but the 49ers can’t argue with the outcome, winning 30-23 for a ninth-straight regular-season win over their rivals to the south.
RB Christian McCaffrey
The heartbeat of the 49ers’ offense. The ever-versatile McCaffrey hasn’t been utilized in exotic ways yet this season, but in his more traditional running back role, he’s been marvelous, providing solid runs up the middle and breaking off big gains that break open the game.
Sunday, that gain was a 51-yard first-half run.
McCaffrey finished with 116 yards on 20 carries, with a touchdown to boot.
WR Deebo Samuel
A man amongst boys when he plays the Rams. His fourth-quarter touchdown was Samuel at his finest: in the open field, making defenders miss and running them over en route to six points.
Brandon Aiyuk might be emergent and Christian McCaffrey might be the fun new toy, but Samuel (101 yard of total offense) is still as impactful as any offensive player in the NFL.
WR Brandon Aiyuk
Clearly injured on the game’s first drive, Aiyuk didn’t make much of an impact on the game as a pass-catcher, but he was effective as a downfield blocker in a gut-it-out performance. Don’t have to love the production, but you do have to laud the effort.
HC Kyle Shanahan
It took serious guts to call for a quarterback sneak with one second remaining in the first half, setting up a 1-yard touchdown run. I don’t think he would have made this call at any other juncture in his 49ers’ career. Let’s call that growth.
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LB Fred Warner
The 49ers’ best pass rusher Sunday.
Should that have been his role? No.
Are the Niners happy that the NFL’s best linebacker is also an elite blitzer of the quarterback?
CB Deommodore Lenoir
Moved to the outside with Ambry Thomas hurt, and was solid for most of the game before making the play of the game by undercutting Van Jefferson’s route and intercepting Matt Stafford inside of five minutes to play in the fourth quarter.
QB Brock Purdy
Expertly managed the 49ers offense in a wildly impressive way. I won’t disagree with anyone who says he had a good game. He did.
But Purdy also missed three open deep throws in the game that could have been three touchdowns.
That’s a Jimmy Garoppolo move, and Purdy is supposed to be the antidote to that kind of quarterback play.
Ultimately, Purdy is a victim of his high standards here. If this is as bad as it gets for the Niners, they’ll be the best-quarterbacked team in the NFL.
DE Nick Bosa
The NFL’s reigning DPOY was MIA on Sunday. Yes, the Rams gave him plenty of attention, but we didn’t see Bosa in the backfield in LA. He’s yet to register a sack this season.
Worse yet, Bosa’s ineffectiveness was a key reason the Niners had to bring additional pass rushers on nearly every down in the second half. For a defense that is predicated on pressuring the quarterback with four, it left San Francisco in a dangerous spot.
Bosa finally hit Matt Stafford once the 49ers had a 10-point lead late in the fourth quarter. It’s hard to imagine his holdout — justified as it might have been — isn’t part of his slow start.
C Jake Brendel
Losing to Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald can’t be a demerit, but losing multiple times to the other Rams defensive linemen? That’s less than ideal. There was too much pressure up the middle on Sunday, and Brendel was as responsible as anyone for that.
Add in two botched snaps, and it was a rough day for the Niners’ center.
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DC Steve Wilks
Defense is inherently reactionary, but Wilks was several steps behind Sean McVay and the Rams’ offense to start the game. That left the 49ers’ defense to be carved up by one of the best offensive minds and quarterbacks in the NFL.
When Wilks started bringing a fifth man in the pass rush in the second half, it consistently came from obvious places. It didn’t take long for Stafford to crack the case.
The Kenny Pickett game plan doesn’t work on a future Hall of Famer.
Luckily, Stafford’s wide receivers like to run the wrong routes, and the quarterback is keen to throw interceptions.
This game had multiple dubious calls, including a preposterous crackback block call against Jauan Jennings late in the fourth quarter. The refs threw the flag even though the 49ers’ wide receiver was in an established position between the ball carrier and the defender when contact was made. That flag led to the 49ers’ punting the ball up 10 points.
Luckily for these refs, the 49ers left no doubt about the outcome, despite bad calls affecting both teams.
But I don’t think bettors holding 49ers +7.5 tickets will agree with that assessment.