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.”
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.”