49ers

How 49ers' improved O-line became 'engine' of win vs. Rams

49ers

What a difference a week made for Trent Williams and the 49ers' offensive line.

After the 49ers allowed five sacks in Week 5's blowout loss to the Miami Dolphins, the left tackle and his teammates gave quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo consistently clean pockets to throw from during Sunday night's 24-16 win over the Los Angeles Rams at Levi's Stadium.

Garoppolo wasn't sacked once, and Pro Football Focus determined the QB was under pressure on just four of his 34 dropbacks.

NFL Media's Ian Rapoport thought Williams "really played better," but the 49ers' offensive line, as a whole, led the way in Sunday's win.

"Those guys, to me, were sort of the engine last night," Rapoport said on KNBR's "Murph & Mac Show" on Monday. "They did a really nice job on TV, as they usually do, spotlighting not just the good physical play ... [but] also the way that good coaching helps.

"(Rams defensive tackle) Aaron Donald was double-teamed almost every play. He was basically neutralized, and it almost felt like (he) got frustrated because usually he keeps going and going until you force him to stop. And it was almost like he accepted mid-game, 'This is not going to be my day.' That is good coaching. That is making sure that you know what is the best thing that the Rams do [and take it] away. I thought the offensive line was much better."

 
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Garoppolo completed a season-high 23 of 33 passes for 268 yards and three TDs. He certainly relied on the 49ers' skill players to gain yards after the catch, but the offensive line's improvement can't be ignored. Despite managing to finish just one of his three previous starts, Garoppolo had been sacked seven times heading into Week 6.

The 49ers' gameplan against the Rams clearly involved giving Garoppolo enough time to complete manageable throws, and both the offensive line and skill positions did their part. Doing so ended the 49ers' two-game skid, but it might not be enough to start a winning streak with a visit to Bill Belichick's New England Patriots on the horizon next week.

Still, the 49ers' offensive line demonstrated it can be part of the solution rather than a problem in Sunday's win. Considering what happened seven days prior, that might be a victory in and of itself.

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