49ers report card: Interceptions, field goals and, voila, a 2-0 record

The 49ers overcame a rocky first half and surged for a ninth straight regular-season win against the Rams

INGLEWOOD, California — Here’s how the 49ers (2-0) fared in their 30-23 victory over the Los Angeles Rams (1-1) on Sunday:


Brock Purdy has thrown 153 passes since being intercepted on New Year’s Day in Las Vegas seven games ago. So, while he threw three deep shots on Sunday, he left the turnovers to Rams counterpart Matthew Stafford (two interceptions). Deebo Samuel had a team-high 63 yards and six catches, not including his 11-yard touchdown on a backward pass that gave the 49ers a 27-17 lead with 11 1/2 minutes remaining. Brandon Aiyuk injured his left shoulder on a third-down conversion on the first touchdown drive, and while he played through it by rotating with Ronnie Bell, it was the day’s biggest injury concern. Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle, and Aiyuk each had three catches. Purdy’s longest completion was a 31-yard catch by Jauan Jennings early in the fourth quarter, which set up Samuel’s touchdown. The offensive line and the scheme that prevented Aaron Donald from recording a sack or even a tackle were overlooked in all of this. Trent Williams and Aaron Banks are both All-Pro players.


Christian McCaffrey, whose 65-yard touchdown run sealed their Week 1 victory, nearly repeated that feat on Sunday’s final play of the first quarter, but that 51-yard gainer was stopped at the 36-yard line by ex-49ers Ahkello Witherspoon, who later slammed McCaffrey (20 carries, 116 yards). When asked about their conversation, McCaffrey joked, “What’s up man, good to see you.” Purdy sneaking in for a tying touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the 1 as the first half expired was fantastic from a 49ers standpoint. Such quarterback sneaks aided his predecessor, Jimmy Garoppolo, who never revealed the secret to his success. “I don’t think there’s a secret to it, as far as I know,” Purdy said. “We watched all of Jimmy’s QB sneaks. I learned a few things from him, but he never really told me. No, everything is fine. “I adore Jimmy.” Neither Elijah Mitchell nor Jordan Mason received a carry, but Samuel had five runs, including an 11-yard touchdown. The 49ers averaged 5.7 yards per carry on 28 attempts for 159 yards.


A month after looking like a free agent bust in training camp, nickel back Isaiah Oliver was in the right place at the right time Sunday to intercept a Stafford pass that went off Kyren Williams’ hands. Deommodore Lenoir’s game-winning interception came in the fourth quarter, just two days after pledging to extend the 49ers’ remarkable streak of an annual pick-six against the Rams, which dates back to 2019. Lenoir’s return went 21 yards to the Rams’ 15 to set up a field goal. Nick Bosa did not record a sack for the second time since signing his record contract, but he was pleased with his performance and expressed no concerns about his stamina for Thursday’s home opener against the Giants. The 49ers’ lone sack came from a blitzing Fred Warner, who forced a three-and-out just after the 49ers took the lead for good late in the third quarter.


The Rams’ 22 runs were all shorter than an 11-yard run by wide receiver Ben Skowronek. So, why wasn’t this a “A”? Rewind to the second quarter, when the Rams’ red zone offense directed five consecutive snaps from the 23-yard line to Kyren Williams, who scored on a 4-yard run up the middle. Perhaps a worse look came in the previous series, when Dre Greenlaw was called for unnecessary roughness, giving the Rams first-and-goal at the 6. Greenlaw and Talanoa Hufanga had stopped Puka Nacua’s run for no gain.


Jake Moody made all three of his field-goal attempts for the second straight game in the NFL, including a 57-yarder that was the 49ers’ second-longest ever, trailing David Akers’ 63-yarder in the 2012 opener in Green Bay. Moody made his debut on kickoffs, and he made an error in the second quarter by sending one out of bounds, requiring the Rams to march only 60 yards for the game-tying touchdown. Ray-Ray McCloud only had one return, but he backpedaled to field it and then sprang forward for a 13-yard gain. Mitch Wishnowsky had 62- and 67-yard punts, the latter of which came before Lenoir’s interception.


Going for a fourth-and-goal touchdown proved wise, as did making defensive adjustments with their pass rush in the second half. Kyle Shanahan and his staff have now won nine consecutive regular-season games against the Rams, the 49ers’ longest streak since a 17-game streak from 1990 to 1998. Given that streak, last week’s lopsided opening win, and this week’s quick turnaround for Thursday’s home opener against the Giants, who scored 31 second-half points to defeat Arizona 31-28, this could have been a trap game. So, the moral of the story is that the 49ers are 2-0 but not without flaws, which should keep them hungry for a 3-0 start on Thursday night.

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