Kurtenbach: The 49ers were nowhere near their best against the Rams. The fact that they still won speaks volumes

San Francisco 49ers 30 – Los Angeles Rams 27: The Niners showed toughness and smarts in pulling away from the Rams in Week 2.

The 49ers’ Week 1 victory was flawless.

Their Week 2 victory was tough.

While everyone prefers option one, option two may reveal more about the 2023 Niners.

San Francisco was well aware that not every game this season would be as simple as the opener against the Steelers. How could they possibly be?

This league is far too good. The competition is far too fierce. Most games this season will be like Sunday’s choppy, chippy 30-23 win over the Rams in front of a partisan Los Angeles crowd. (Of course, I’m a Niners fan.)

Even in a game where the 49ers blew so many opportunities, they were by far the better team on the field on Sunday.

This game would have been a blowout if Niners quarterback Brock Purdy had simply connected on one of the three wide-open deep pass opportunities he overthrew on Sunday.

However, he missed all three and was ineffective on third downs, where the team was only 2-of-9. Meanwhile, the 49ers defense got off to a slow start, and the referees appeared to be watching another game. (I hope it went well.)

For a lesser team, the combination of missed opportunities, poor play, and bad luck would have been enough to justify a loss.

They were just speed bumps on the way to another victory for this team.

If the truth can be found in the margins, the fact that San Francisco won this game by a comfortable margin says a lot.

This isn’t a flashy squad. Its offense is capable of winning games. Its defense is capable of winning games. Rookie kicker Jake Moody hit a 57-yard field goal on Sunday, so special teams could get in on the action as well.

Even when they aren’t at their best, the Niners are a rock-solid football team.

Aside from the missed big plays, Purdy expertly managed the Niners’ offense on Sunday, playing turnover-free football and distributing the ball to the team’s elite playmakers, Christian McCaffrey (135 yards, one touchdown) and Deebo Samuel (101 yards, one touchdown).

This could be Purdy’s final season as a quarterback. There has never been a better example. He has yet to lose a professional game in which he played with two functional arms.

And if this is the worst Purdy can get, it’s still pretty darn good. The same can be said about the Niners and their game on Sunday.

If the Niners can combine that kind of game management with the skill and toughness displayed on Sunday, it’s difficult to imagine the offense having a bad game this season.

After all, this game felt a little underwhelming. Despite this, the Niners scored 30 points.

But “dud” might be an understatement for the 49ers’ first half of defense on Sunday.

An inferior offensive line was pushing the Niners around, and Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford was picking apart San Francisco’s soft and predictable pass coverage.

But, despite not getting much help from the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Nick Bosa, this team’s defense rallied in the second quarter. The 49ers began to pressure Matthew Stafford, who typically does not play turnover-free football, by blitzing far more frequently after halftime.

Once the Niners were able to put defenders in his face, Stafford coughed up the ball, and two second-half interceptions — the first by Isaiah Oliver on a tipped ball, the second by Deommodore Lenoir on a sharp undercut of a Stafford pass — flipped the game in the Niners’ favor.

Bosa waited until the final seconds of the game to make an impact. His work had become insignificant by that point.

The 49ers won their ninth straight regular-season game against the Rams. And that dominance is entirely due to the Niners’ superiority, not the Rams’.

On Sunday, San Francisco was without a game-winning quarterback and, for all intents and purposes, their top defender.

They won anyway because they were tough. They made changes. They didn’t fumble the ball.

That’s not sexy, but it wins football games any month of the year.

And when combined with the talent on their roster, they have a good chance of winning a lot of games this season.

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