SANTA CLARA — Not a lot of room for “duds” this week.
Not with the thorough and physical 31-10 beating the 49ers put on the Los Angeles Rams Monday night before a national television audience.
The 49ers (4-5) dominated the Rams (7-3) from the outset, piling up the rushing attempts that are so crucial to a Kyle Shanahan offense while Jimmy Garoppolo picked his spots. The 49ers simply got a lead with help from a 27-yard interception return for a touchdown from Jimmie Ward and then threw body blows against a helpless foe.
So how good are the 49ers? And what’s up with the Rams? That’s two bad games in a row.
Topics for another time. Here are Monday night’s studs and duds:
S Jimmie Ward: Ward’s first interception in the first quarter preceded the 49ers’ 18-play, 93-yard touchdown drive for a 7-0 lead. It came while playing centerfield on a deep throw from Matt Stafford to Odell Beckham Jr., with the quarterback and new receiver appearing to have different ideas about the route. The second came when Stafford’s throw to Tyler Higbee went out of his receiver’s hands and into his arms for a 27-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
WR Deebo Samuel: Coach Kyle Shanahan had Samuel shifting and running out of the backfield, and the result was four carries for 32 yards and a 9-yard touchdown run for a 21-7 lead. Samuel also took a short pass and gained 20 yards on the 49ers’ 91-yard drive that put them up 21-7. Samuel had an 8-yard touchdown run and a 40-yard scoring reception on fourth-and-6 in the second half. Samuel had five catches for 97 yards and five rushes for 36 yards.
TE George Kittle: Kittle had four first-half catches for 43 yards and an 8-yard score on the 49ers’ opening possession. Kittle was the target on third-and-5 and third-and-4 completions of 17 and 7 yards from Jimmy Garoppolo that kept the opening drive alive. His touchdown also came on third down. Kittle wasn’t nearly the factor in the passing game in the second half, but he’s OK with that. He loves to run-block, so this game was right up his alley.
QB Jimmy Garoppolo: Completed all eight of his first half passes for 89 yards during a first half where the 49ers ran the ball 22 times. All four passes to Kittle went to first downs, and Garoppolo was 3-for-3 for 51 yards during the 49ers’ 91-yard, 11-play scoring drive. Garoppolo didn’t throw an incomplete pass until there was 4:43 in the third quarter. Garoppolo was 15 of 19 for 182 yards.
Offensive line: Impossible to single anyone out, but when a team has 21 runs and eight passes in two first-half scoring drives totaling 184 yards, rest assured there’s some serious blocking going on. The 49ers controlled the action throughout. You could almost sense Shanahan’s disappointment when one second-half scoring drive took only 3:53 off the clock because Samuel scored on a 40-yard pass play.
LB Azeez Al-Shaair: With the Rams in scoring position late in the first half, Al-Shaair stepped up with two plays that forced a field 34-yard field goal attempt with 18 seconds left. The first stop was dropping Higbee for a 2-yard loss, the second holding Darrell Hendeson Jr. to a 5-yard gain. The Rams tried a fake field goal attempt, with Johnny Hekker rolling right, but D.J. Jones stopped Brycen Hopkins short of the first down and the half ended 21-7.
DE Arden Key: The Raiders castoff, whose close-but-no-cigar pass rush ability wore thin, had his second sack in two weeks with a fourth-quarter sack of Stafford.
CB K’Waun Williams: Playing in the right slot against wide receiver Cooper Kupp, Williams allowed Kupp to run past him unimpeded for a 27-yard completion from Stafford. Either Williams was expecting rotational help from a safety or he allowed the NFL’s most prolific receiver to go free. The Rams scored on the drive to cut the 49ers’ lead to 14-7.
T Tom Compton: A replacement at right tackle when Jaylon Moore was lost to injury in the first half, Compton was abused by the Rams’ Leonard Floyd on a play in which Garoppolo was flushed from the pocket with Taylor Rapp cleaning up for the sack. It was the 49ers’ first punt of the game.