SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers just beat the Los Angeles Rams 24-9 to improve their record to 2-2. Here are the 49ers' grades for this performance.
Jimmy Garoppolo wasn't great, but he didn't need to be great. He was good enough, and that's his job. Don't lose the game, Jimmy. Tonight, he threw 27 passes and zero interceptions. If he could do that every week, the 49ers might never lose. And sure, he completed just 10 of 20 passes after starting 6 for 7. And yes, 92 of his 239 passing yards came on two short throws that went for big gains after the catch. But again, he doesn't need to make plays -- he just needs to avoid making mistakes. If he can do that the rest of the season and in the playoffs, the 49ers just might win the Super Bowl.
RUNNING BACKS: B-PLUS.
The Rams sold out to stop the 49ers run game, and yet they still managed to rush for 88 yards and a touchdown. Jeff Wilson ran hard as usual and gained a respectable 4.1 yards per carry. But Kyle Juszczyk was the star of this group. He had a 35-yard catch, plus a nine-yard run that picked up a first-down on a crucial second-half field-goal drive. The 49ers need to keep using him like this.
WIDE RECEIVERS: A.
Deebo Samuel made two phenomenal plays. In the first half on 3rd and 3, he caught a short pass that was almost intercepted, broke three tackles, weaved through the Rams defense for 57 yards and scored. And then in the second half on 3rd and 13, Samuel caught a screen pass and gained 29 yards. He's almost too good. It's unfair.
TIGHT ENDS: C-MINUS.
George Kittle blocked well, but caught just two passes for 24 yards, and failed to get his second foot in bounds on a potential touchdown catch. Kittle has gained fewer than 30 receiving yards in 7 of his past 8 games. Is he in Kyle Shanahan's doghouse, or is he simply declining?
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: A.
The 49ers were down to their third-string left tackle, Jaylon Moore, after Colton McKivitz left the game early with an MCL injury, and yet the 49ers still gave up zero sacks. Remarkable.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: A-PLUS.
They sacked Matthew Stafford six times and gave up just 3.2 yards per carry. That's domination.
Dre Greenlaw had a whopping 15 tackles -- he was the fastest player on the field. He was freaking everywhere. Fred Warner also recorded nine tackles for good measure.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: A-PLUS.
Deommodore Lenoir gave up lots of short catches to Cooper Kupp, but nothing long and no touchdown passes, which is crucial. Charvarius Ward broke up a potential touchdown catch in the end zone. And Talanoa Hufanga won the game with a clutch pick-six in the fourth quarter when the Rams were driving to tie the game. None of these three players were starters for the 49ers last season. Now all of them are quality players on an elite defense. Give the 49ers credit for believing in these guys.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B.
Robbie Gould missed a field goal, and Ray-Ray McCloud fumbled a kickoff, but Marlon Mack recovered it. McCloud also gained 34 yards on two punt returns -- that's essentially three first downs the offense didn't have to pick up.
DeMeco Ryans doesn't normally blitz a ton, but tonight he realized the Rams were down to their third-string center, which means their offensive line was struggling to communicate, because the center is in charge of communication. So Ryans kept calling blitzes and the Rams never picked them up. He completely outcoached Sean McVay, who's extremely overrated. Kyle Shanahan also coached exceptionally well, too. He identified the Rams' weakness defensively -- their safeties -- and exploited them. Shanahan kept sending wide receivers deep, the safeties would follow them, then Garoppolo would throw a quick slant and the Rams safeties would have to make tackles in the open field, which they didn't do well. Maybe they can get Eric Weddle to come out of retirement again. Otherwise, Shanahan will make them look silly again the next time they meet. Give Shanahan credit for identifying this weakness. Also give him credit for his play-calling in the third quarter. On his first drive, the 49ers went nowhere and punted, and it seemed they were losing the momentum. But on the next drive, Shanahan called a pass for Juszczyk that gained 35 yards, then a run for Juszczyk that gained 9, and the 49ers scored a field goal that they needed. Good to see Shanahan adjust on the fly for a change. If Shanahan keeps it up and the 49ers get healthy, they will be scary. Watch out.