SANTA CLARA -- The real 49ers just stood up. They saved their season with a dramatic 31-10 beatdown of the Los Angeles Rams, and now they're are 4-5 with the easy part of their schedule coming up. Which means they just might turn their season around. Here are their grades for this win.
JIMMY GAROPPOLO: A.
This probably was the best start of Garoppolo's career, all things considered. He most likely was one more loss away from getting benched, even though he has played well this season. And all he did was save his job and the 49ers' season with an extremely efficient performance. He threw for a mere 182 yards, but he completed 15 of 19 attempts, threw two touchdown passes and committed zero turnovers. Which means he managed the game. Garoppolo is a complementary player, and today he played his role to perfection. The 49ers are hard to beat when they commit to the run and let Garoppolo take a back seat.
RUNNING BACKS: A.
Elijah Mitchell ran the ball a whopping 27 times -- the 49ers couldn't have won if he hadn't shouldered that load. Jeff Wilson Jr. also added 10 carries. Those two are a terrific tandem.
WIDE RECEIVERS: A.
Deebo Samuel is one of the most unique players in the NFL. Tonight, he played wide receiver AND running back, and gained 133 yards from scrimmage and scored two touchdowns. What a weapon.
TIGHT ENDS: A.
George Kittle played his best game of the season, as he caught a touchdown pass in the red zone and blocked Von Miller extremely well all night. Good to see he still can play like a dominant force.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: A.
They controlled the game on the ground from the first series and gave up just one sack all night. And that was with backup right tackle Tom Compton playing most of the game after Jaylon Moore left with a knee injury. Compton actually blocked well for the rushing attack.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: B.
They gave up 5.2 yards per carry and sacked Matthew Stafford only twice, but Stafford still seemed rattled. And Nick Bosa sacked him in the fourth quarter to help put away the game.
Fred Warner and Azeez Al-Shaair each recorded eight tackles, and Warner almost intercepted a pass. It seemed like John Lynch calling out Warner this past week had a major impact on him.
Jimmie Ward won this game for the 49ers. He told me in August he would make the Rams pay if they targeted him, and that's exactly what he did. He intercepted Stafford twice in the first quarter, and returned the second pick for a touchdown. Checkmate. Ward also helped make Stafford look like former Rams quarterback Jared Goff, who actually played better against the 49ers this season than Stafford did tonight. Stafford looked like a chump. He can thank Ward for that.
They gave up a few big plays to the Rams wide receivers, but didn't commit any long pass interference penalties, which is good.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A.
They didn't have to do much.
DeMeco Ryans was Robert-Saleh-level good. And For the first time this season, Kyle Shanahan had the perfect game plan for his team, as opposed to last week, when he called five passes for every run and lost big to the Cardinals J.V. team. This week, Shanahan called 44 runs and won. That's the 49ers identity and formula for winning. Strange that it took them until mid-November to rediscover their idenitity, but they did. Afterward, Shanahan said he gave out no game balls for this win, because he wants to see his team play like this consistently. Amen, Kyle. You finally are acting like a head coach. This was a big win, but your team still is one game under .500. You have to prove this was a turning point and not a one-off. So win again. Beat the freaking Jaguars next week. Don't pat yourself on the back. So far, it seems like he has the right approach. Maybe someone talked to him.
QUALITY CONTROL: A-PLUS-PLUS.
I don't know if Kyle Shanahan watches my videos, but it seems like he does, because he took all my critiques to heart in this game. And instead of doubling down on his mistakes from earlier this season, he acknowledged my good ideas and used them, which is all I can ask for as quality control. Thank you, Kyle. Now, I need to attack this week with the same urgency I had last week and not rest on my laurels. The 49ers' season depends on it.