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49ers 27, Rams 24: Grades

What an amazing turnaround. What a spectacular game. What a tough team.

INGLEWOOD -- The 49ers rose from the dead and saved their season.

They were down 17-0 in the first half, and came back and won 27-24 in overtime. And a few weeks ago, their record is 3-5. Now they're 10-7 and they're going to Dallas to play the Cowboys in the first round of the playoffs.

What an amazing turnaround. What a spectacular game. What a tough team. Had they lost this game, their season would have been over.

Here are the 49ers' grades for their season-saving victory.


His injured thumb never seemed to bother him, but he still struggled early in the game because he seemed rusty after not fully practicing the past two weeks. He threw two interceptions while targeting George Kittle when he was triple covered both times. Garoppolo also got lucky when he fumbled deep in his own territory and his right tackle, Tom Compton, recovered the ball. Had the Rams recovered, the 49ers probably would have lost. And that means Garoppolo was a major reason the 49ers were losing in the first place. His passer rating was a subpar 87.5. But just when it seemed time to write him off for good, he bounced back and led the 49ers to victory, because he's clutch. He has been clutch at the end of games all season. Of course, the run game and defense turned the momentum of the game and gave Garoppolo an opportunity to be clutch, but he came through with the game on the line and Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, who's overrated, did not. Perhaps the Rams would have won if they had Garoppolo instead of Stafford. Oh, the irony.


Elijah Mitchell averaged a solid 4 yards per carry and improved as the game went on. He was by far the best running back in the game. If the Rams had Mitchell, they might have won, but they don't have Mitchell. They have a bunch of stiffs.


Brandon Aiyuk had 6 catches for 107 yards. Jauan Jennings had 6 catches for 94 yards and 2 touchdowns. And Deebo Samuel was better than both of them. Samuel had 4 catches for 95 yards, plus 8 runs for 45 yards and a rushing touchdown, plus a 16-yard touchdown pass. No one else in the NFL can do all the things Samuel does. He is the most dangerous offensive weapon in the league and it's not even close. He deserves MVP votes this season.


George Kittle had five catches for just 10 yards. The Rams essentially shut him down.


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The 49ers played both backup offensive tackles and still gave up only three sacks to a defense that has Aaron Donald and Von Miller. Impressive.


They recorded 4 sacks, and Arik Armstead had a DeForest-Buckner-esque performance. Armstead recorded 2.5 sacks when the 49ers needed them the most. He came into the game with just 3.5 sacks on the season. Good to see him play his best in January.


They helped limit the Rams to a measly 2.4 yards per carry, which forced the Rams to pass, which led to both of their interceptions.


Jimmie Ward gave up two big catches to Cooper Kupp and Jaquiski Tartt left the game early with a groin injury. That injury could be a big factor when the 49ers play the Cowboys next week.


I thought they'd be the reason the 49ers would lose, and in fact they were the reason they won. Emmanuel Moseley intercepted Stafford first, then Ambry Thomas picked him off to end the game in overtime. Those two probably will start at cornerback next season for the 49ers. They've earned it.


Mitch Wishnowsky left the game with a concussion, Robbie Gould replaced him at punter and was even better than Wishnowsky. Kyle Juszczyk had to replace Wishnowsky as the holder and did a terrific job.


I was ready to tell the 49ers to trade Kyle Shanahan if he lost this game and missed the playoffs and wasted this season. But he didn't lose. After falling behind 17-0, he led the 49ers on a 27-7 run to win the game. The man must have delivered one hell of a halftime speech. I have so much more respect for him and the entire 49ers team after watching them claw their way back in this game and this season. They seemed dead when they were down 17-0, and they seemed dead when they lost four games in a row. How many head coaches could engineer comebacks like Shanahan has this season? To be fair, maybe the 49ers had to come back because Shanahan decided to start a rusty quarterback who committed two turnovers. Maybe they would have blown out the Rams had Trey Lance played. But we'll never know. All we know is Shanahan figured out a way to win a must-win game. That's all that matters.