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Friday, September 29, 2023

They’re not perfect other than 2-0 record

INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Here is how the 49ers (2-0) graded in Sunday’s 30-23 win over the host Los Angeles Rams (1-1):


Brock Purdy has thrown 153 passes since being last intercepted, seven games ago on New Year’s Day in Las Vegas. So he may have overthrown a trio of deep shots Sunday but he left the turnovers to Rams counterpart Matthew Stafford (two interceptions). Deebo Samuel had a team-high 63 yards and six catches, and that did not include his 11-yard touchdown, which came on a backward pass and staked the 49ers to a 27-17 lead with 11 1/2 minutes to go. Brandon Aiyuk hurt his left shoulder a third-down conversion on the opening touchdown drive, and although he played through it by rotating with Ronnie Bell, that marked the biggest injury concern of the day. Aiyuk, George Kittle and Christian McCaffrey each had three catches. Jauan Jennings’ 31-yard catch early in the fourth quarter marked Purdy’s longest completion and set the stage for Samuel’s score. Overlooked in all this was the offensive line and the scheme that kept Aaron Donald from registering a sack or even a tackle. Trent Williams and Aaron Banks are playing at an All-Pro level.


Christian McCaffrey, whose 65-yard touchdown run sealed their Week 1 win, nearly repeated that on Sunday’s final play of the first quarter, though that 51-yard gainer got stopped at the 36-yard line by ex-49ers Ahkello Witherspoon, who jawed afterward at McCaffrey (20 carries, 116 yards). Asked about their dialogue, McCaffrey quipped that it was a casual, “What’s up man, good to see you.” What was great to see from a 49ers’ standpoint was Purdy sneaking in for a tying touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the 1 as the first half expired. Such quarterback sneaks were a boon for his predecessor, Jimmy Garoppolo, who never did share his secret to such success. “I don’t think there’s a secret to it, as far as I know,” Purdy said. “We watched all the QB sneaks Jimmy did well. I learned a couple of things but he never really told me. No, it’s all good. I love Jimmy.” Elijah Mitchell nor Jordan Mason got a carry, but Samuel had five runs, including his 11-yard score. In all, the 49ers averaged 5.7 yards per carry (28 attempts, 159 yards).


Nickel back Isaiah Oliver, a month after looking like a free agent bust in training camp, was in the right place at the right time Sunday to intercept a Stafford pass that went off Kyler Williams’ hands. Deommodore Lenoir produced his game-cliching interception in the fourth quarter, two days after vowing to extend the 49ers’ remarkable streak of an annual pick-six against the Rams dating back to 2019; Lenoir’s return went 21 yards to the Rams’ 15 to set up a field goal. Nick Bosa went without a sack for the second game since signing his record contract, but he came away pleased with his impact and expressed no concerns about stamina for Thursday’s home opener against the Giants. A blitzing Fred Warner delivered the 49ers’ lone sack, and it forced a three-and-out right after the 49ers took the lead for good late in the third quarter.


The Rams didn’t break any of their 22 runs longer than an 11-yard effort from wide receiver Ben Skowronek. So why wasn’t this an “A” grade? Rewind to the second quarter when the Rams’ red zone offense turned to Kyren Williams on five consecutive snaps from the 23-yard line, with him scoring on a 4-yard jaunt up the middle. Perhaps a worse look came on the preceding series, when Dre Greenlaw got tagged for unnecessary roughness to gift the Rams a first-and-goal at the 6, after Greenlaw and Talanoa Hufanga had stopped Puka Nacua’s run for no gain.


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