The San Francisco 49ers turned the clock back on strategy and execution and taught the formula they might need if they want to fight for a playoff spot in the second half of the season.
The Niners once again played like the team that was crowned in the National Conference in 2019, carrying the ball 44 times and using a fierce defense to beat the Los Angeles Rams 31-10 on Monday night.
“It honestly felt very similar to the Super Bowl year,” quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said. “It felt like we carried the ball 30 times in every game that year. It’s just what we can do, and be successful a third time. It is a good recipe for us ”.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan had set a bold goal of 40 carries per game for the 49ers (4-5), who were coming off 11 in a 31-17 loss to Arizona. That number represented the fewest running plays in the strategist’s five years in office.
But Shanahan felt good about the sample that represented the first offensive series, in which the 49ers ran 12 times of 18 plays. The advance was capped off with a touchdown pass from Garoppolo to George Kittle that set the tone for the match.
San Francisco carried the ball 40 times in four separate 2019 games during the regular season and in back-to-back postseason victories, leading to the Super Bowl.
Since then he had not succeeded and had suffered hardships on third occasions. This made it difficult to mount long offensive series and their defense had not been able to steal the ball from their rivals.
As a result, the 49ers suffered five losses in six games and sank near the bottom of the National Conference standings.
But the victory against the Rams got them back into the fray, halfway through Carolina for seventh place in the NL playoffs.
“I said 40, because that number includes the whole team,” Shanahan said. ‘Defense has to play that way, and (offense) has to play that way, just like special teams, and we have to be effective third down. We have to force ball exchanges and we must not deliver them ourselves. This is how you steal ball possessions. It was great how the team played in general because of the way we set the pace. “
Deebo Samuel carrying the ball. San Francisco’s offense has revolved around Samuel, who is second in the NFL in receiving yards with 979. But Shanahan revealed a new way to exploit him, by handing him the ball as a running back out of the backfield on a few occasions. He posted six times as a running back – nearly matching his total of seven in the first eight games – which was reflected in five carries for 36 yards and a touchdown.
Passes out of numbers. Garoppolo did most of his Monday night work in midfield with 13 of his 15 completions between the numbers. He was ONLY 2-of-4 for 21 yards throwing to the wings, according to Pro Football Focus.