49ers' flourishing defensive line has impressed Rams coach Sean McVay

49ers' flourishing defensive line has impressed Rams coach Sean McVay

SANTA CLARA — Richard Sherman might think that no one has taken notice of how well the 49ers defense has been playing. But he has got at least one believer in Rams coach Sean McVay.

A large part of the Rams' preparation for their division rival Sunday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is breaking down how to counter the 49ers' pass rush that has flourished with the offseason additions of Dee Ford and Nick Bosa

“That’s a huge point of emphasis every week,” McVay said Wednesday. “But especially this week with just how aggressive and what a great job they do hitting home. Especially when they only bring four the majority of the time. To be able to apply that much pressure with a four-man rush consistently, is really impressive.” 

McVay praised the collective energy level of the group, noting the defense really embodies coach Robert Saleh’s core principle: “All Gas No Brake.” 

“They do an excellent job rotating guys and they play with an energy, snap to whistle,” McVay said. “You hear them say ‘All Gas No Brake’ and that’s what it looks like when you watch them play.” 

The 49ers defense has put together a pretty good résumé in their first four games, tallying 13 sacks, 26 quarterback hits, 20 tackles for a loss, seven interceptions and seven forced fumbles, six which have been recovered. 

Although the Rams have an ultra-talented offense, QB Jared Goff has not been immune to pressure. He has been sacked eight times, hit 18 and hurried 83 times in five games. He also has thrown an equal number of interceptions and touchdowns (seven). The 49ers' dominant front-seven has another chance to feast.

"It’s been really impressive just watching them,” McVay said. “They’re taking the ball away. They’re mixing in some different coverage principles but there’s a sound core philosophy that they have that they are committed to. Guys have an ownership of what they are trying to get done.” 

McVay also has been impressed with 49ers rookie Nick Bosa, even before his breakout game on "Monday Night Football." He believes that the rookie fits in seamlessly with the rest of the group. 

“Relentless,” McVay said. “A mature player for a rookie. Got a great feel, a great motor.”

[RELATED: How Bosa has impressed Sherman on, off the field]

Like most pundits who have high hopes for Sunday's NFC West showdown, McVay knows Sunday will be a hard-fought game between division rivals. The Rams coach not only is a believer in the defensive line, but also the players who stand behind it.

He was complimentary of veteran Richard Sherman's skillset and football IQ and was impressed with what he saw from Emmanuel Moseley in his first NFL start. He noted that the second-year cornerback showed lateral quickness and good technique. 

“What you see is a really sound defense,” McVay said. “They make you earn every single yard.” 

49ers' Richard Sherman responds to 'armchair coaches' who wanted tie

49ers' Richard Sherman responds to 'armchair coaches' who wanted tie

Over his nine-year NFL career, 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman has played for two head coaches: Pete Carroll and Kyle Shanahan. He doesn't come from the school of Herm Edwards, but the two have one thing in common. 

They play to win the game. 

The 49ers had a chance to settle for a tie in overtime when they fell to the Seahawks, 27-24, on Monday. Sherman saw tweets questioning Shanahan's play-calling at the end of the game, and in a way only the three-time All-Pro know how to, he fired back on Thursday. 

"That's coming from people who don't know ball, if I'm being honest," Sherman said to reporters. "You get to the point where you've got armchair quarterbacks, armchair GMs, armchair coaches like, 'Oh man, I would have done this.' And that's why you're sitting on the couch and not in this sport as a professional.

"You've got people, who don't do this for a living, talking about what they would have done, and it's cool, I guess, for social media chatter. It's great for it there. But as people who play the game, and who put the sacrifice in, who go out there and lay their bodies out on the line, you don't play a tie."

The 49ers had the ball on their own 20-yard line with the score tied and only 1:50 remaining in OT. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw three straight incompletions, and after a Mitch Wishnowsky punt, only 25 seconds ran off the clock. 

Shanahan and his offense had an opportunity to move down the field and improve to 9-0 on the season. They failed, yet still have the best record in the NFC. 

[RELATED: Should 49ers have gone for tie late in overtime loss]

"If you have a chance to drive the ball down the field and try to win the game," Sherman continued, "then I would think everybody would want us to try to win the game. You don't want a tie."

Sherman's right, and the 49ers remain in the driver's seat with seven games to go. 

49ers' K'Waun Williams on Pro Bowl ballot after Richard Sherman's plea

49ers' K'Waun Williams on Pro Bowl ballot after Richard Sherman's plea

Ask and you shall receive. 

Richard Sherman wanted fellow 49ers defensive back K'Waun Williams added to the Pro Bowl ballot after San Francisco's nickel corner originally had been left off it.

On Thursday, the NFL obliged.

The 49ers currently have the league's best pass defense according to DVOA, and Williams has been a big reason why. While San Francisco has had to use multiple outside corners due to injury, Williams had provided a consistent, steadying force in the slot. He's totaled 22 tackles, three forced fumbles and two interceptions through 10 games, and opposing quarterbacks have been limited to a 67.6 passer rating when targeting him.

49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was asked about Williams' addition to the ballot, and made it clear he thinks the recognition is deserved.

"He’s earned it," Saleh said, "he’s worked his tail off and he’s been healthy. I think people are starting to recognize how valuable he is in the slot."

Traditionally, nickelbacks have not been included on the Pro Bowl ballot, which partly explains why Williams was left off in the first place. But with the way the league is changing, Saleh thinks the NFL should reconsider how Pro Bowl rosters are constructed.

"You know, I don’t understand the whole system," Saleh added. "I think it’s archaic in terms of the nickel plays a majority of the snaps, but you still have a SAM backer and a fullback. I don’t know how the whole thing works, but I do think slot corner should get a little bit more recognition than they do. I’m pumped for him that he’s getting that."

[RELATED: 49ers' decisions on active players could be made for them]

While Williams' inclusion on the ballot is deserved, San Francisco certainly wouldn't mind if he wasn't able to participate in the actual Pro Bowl. That, of course, is because players participating in the Super Bowl are ineligible to play in the Pro Bowl, which occurs the week prior. If the 49ers reach the final game of the 2019 season, you can be sure Williams played a big role in helping them get there.