What We Learned
Week 6 vs. LA Rams

Well, well, well, would you look at that. We finally saw something we’re familiar with…..Winning! While it’s not our first win, two weeks without one is a long time. More specifically we saw an offense that was creative, explosive, and moved the ball efficiently. We saw a defense that once again proved their top five ranking. The return of Emanuel Moseley provided a drastic difference in cornerback play, only allowing Jared Goff to complete 50% of his passes for under 200 yards and one interception. This is the team we expected to show up against the Eagles and Dolphins. Sometimes having a fire lit under your behind isn’t a bad thing, it’s necessary. This team responded to the wake up call. Let’s dive into some things that stood out in the Niners 24-16 win over the Rams. 

We learned that this Offensive Line can rise to the challenge and play a dominant game. While I believe the Eagles have a better Defensive Line as a whole, Aaron Donald by himself is a different animal. His four sack performance a week ago further proves that. So what do you do against the league leader in sacks? You don’t allow him to beat you. You don’t allow him to wreck the game and give players next to him and behind him opportunities to make plays. Kyle’s game plan was aided by a solid performance from the front five. Well timed double team blocks neutralized Donald. I must also give credit for each individual performance as well. Donald lined up all across the line, trying to find an advantage. In some of those plays each lineman had to block him one on one. Each man brought their A game and handled business in their one on one opportunity. Donald was limited to no sacks, only one pressure and one quarterback hit. That is outstanding. Now that we know this Offensive Line can play this way, the expectation is that they continue to improve and get better with each game. 

We learned that Jimmy G isn’t just a team captain, but a legitimate leader in this team. Say what you will about Jimmy but he plays with a level of grit that is admirable. His outing against Miami was not his best. However, not being able to fully planet and throw off your back foot has not gone well for most Quarterbacks in the league. Getting closer to 100%, we saw the Jimmy G that carved up the Jets in the first half of week two. He was accurate and decisive while executing the game plan to perfection. Getting rid of the ball quickly to help the O-Line and not give Aaron Donald time to get in the backfield. He even had a late game scramble where he lowered his shoulder to initiate contact in an effort to gain a first down. While he didn’t achieve the desired result of moving the chains, he most certainly gained more respect from his teammates. At that moment, his ankle was not more important than fighting for his team to get a win. While we don’t need him to sustain any further injuries, he provided an example of the effort this team should play with going forward. I’m sure if Jimmy has another bad game, heads will roll and some will be calling for him to be gone at the end of the season. But it’s hard to root against him when he plays like he did yesterday. He should also improve as he continues to heal. It was clear he wasn’t 100% last night, but he was good enough to dominate a division rival. 

We learned that Jason Verrett is the real deal. For a while we thought his signing was just another shot in the dark by John Lynch, hoping to strike gold. I wouldn’t say that we’ve reached gold yet, but what Verrett has provided so far has been a pleasant surprise. Verrett is clearly the best man to man cover Corner on this roster. And now he’s found a groove. His technique and footwork have been on display for the past few weeks. He is so comfortable that he’s able to play free, without over thinking. His drive ending, end zone interception was an instinct play. His footwork had him in the right positions covering Robert Woods on the outside. Once saw the ball leave Goff’s hand, he broke off his man to make a play on the ball, arriving to the spot before the receiver, catching the ball and making sure he had two feet in bounds. That was the biggest play in thwarting a comeback attempt by the Rams. No points surrendered and giving the ball back to the offense on the twenty yard line instead of on the one. The faithful have questioned what will happen opposite Richard Sherman once he returns. I believe Verrett is making a strong case to be that starting Corner opposite Sherman. 

We learned that Jerrick McKinnon is no longer the Jet. Like most Faithful, I was excited to finally see McKinnon in this offense. After last night’s game, it seems that McKinnon only provides us one dimension on offense. I’m not questioning his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, but Jerrick doesn’t strike fear in the opposing defense as a runner. McKinnon has lost his burst and explosion. He doesn’t hit the holes quickly. It takes him a while to build up speed and in short areas, that is not beneficial. Once Raheem Mostert was taken out of the game due to injury, McKinnon took responsibility of the running duties. I believe our offense slowed down a bit in the second half because run plays to McKinnon weren’t betting much yardage, leading to 2nd and 3rd and long situations. We couldn’t get a rhythm with McKinnon as the back. At one point I called for JaMycal Hasty to see what he could do. I’m sure Kyle wasn’t reading the posts in the Nothing But Niners Facebook group, but soon after Hasty was in and finished the game as the primary back. The difference was night and day. Hasty ran with explosion and burst on each touch. He was able to hit the holes suddenly and get to the edges more quickly than McKinnon. It’s great to see McKinnon resume his career, but this offense functions better with explosive backs in the backfield. Hopefully Mostert’s injury isn’t too severe. If it is, I’d like to see more Hasty than McKinnon.

Learning Blitz

  1. The YAC Bros are legit. We finally got to see Jimmy, Mostert, Kittle, Deebo, and Aiyuk all on the field and healthy at the same time. These five all played a role on that first drive that punched the Rams in the mouth. I want more!

  2. Each Week Fred Warner is becoming the most complete defensive player on this 49er team. He can do it all, and he’s only getting better.

  3. Kyle Shanahan definitely puts a little extra sauce in his game plan when coaching against Sean McVay or other coaches he respects. He coaches for pride and bragging rights in those moments. Which is probably why we didn’t see this same intensity out of the gate against Philly and Miami. Fortunately for the Niners, the next few games have the pride and bragging rights element that Kyle feeds off of. Hopefully that means good things for the Niners. 

Tune in to all things Nothing But Niners this week. Tuesday, the guys will breakdown this game vs. the Rams in detail.  Shows later on in the week will get the Faithful ready for the matchup against Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. 

It feels good to end the losing streak! #NinerGang