The San Francisco 49ers defeated arch-rival Los Angeles Rams Sunday night 24-16 in the team’s first division matchup. Before Week 6, Los Angeles sat second in the NFC West, one of the most contentious divisions in all of football.
Los Angeles previously swept the NFC East, whose teams made up four out of the team’s first five regular season games. The NFC East is statistically the weakest division in the NFL, so the Rams' upcoming schedule against NFC West teams will be more difficult as shown in their game against the 49ers.
The Rams' biggest issue on Sunday was their inability to produce. They scored six points in the first half, falling 21-6 by the midway point. The lack of offensive production was highlighted in star receiver Cooper Kupp who had 11 yards on the night.
Quarterback Jared Goff struggled to respond to San Francisco’s solid offensive outing. The opening drive of the second half ended with a field goal after getting close to the end zone and things only got worse when Goff threw a red-zone interception to Niners cornerback Jason Verret at the end of the 3rd quarter.
Despite an impressive 40-yard touchdown pass to receiver Josh Reynolds in the fourth, Goff completed 19 of 38 passes for an average of 5.2 yards. Goff finished the game with two touchdowns and one interception.
“Offensively, we just were never able to get any sort of continuity,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said after the game. “As a whole, just too many things we’re not accustomed to doing. And you give credit to the 49ers, they did a nice job but...it’s a great learning opportunity for us.”
The Rams defense struggled as well. Their defense failed to put any pressure on San Francisco’s offense the entire night, with the Niners offensive line limiting Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald to two tackles. San Francisco’s defense was so effective that Donald recorded no sacks on the night, a rarity for the multi-time Pro Bowler.
Lack of pressure from Donald gave room for Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppollo to complete 23 of 33 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns. Garoppollo’s performance on Sunday night was a nice bounceback from his poor performance against the Miami Dolphins in Week 5.
Poor tackling was also a common theme for Los Angeles' defense. Missed tackles allowed the Niners' rushing attack to accumulate a combined 122 yards by the end of the game.
“We just [weren’t] playing our ball,” said Donald after the game. “We were missing tackles early. I just didn’t think we played good as a team today. So we gotta do better. That’s not the way we play...So that’s on us as players, coaches.”
In terms of rushing, Rams running back Darell Henderson carried the load for Los Angeles, as he ran for 88 yards. Despite not being able to score a touchdown, Henderson averaged 6.3 yards per carry.
After Sunday night’s loss, Los Angeles sits at 4-2 and are now tied for second in the NFC West. The Rams' loss against San Francisco ensures that their division will be permanently tied in a three-way fight between them, Seattle, and dark-horse Arizona for the rest of the year.
The Rams will play the Chicago Bears next week on Monday Night Football.