The 49ers heard all the noise. Let's be honest, it would be impossible to keep it from seeping into the building entirely.
At 3-5 and fresh off an embarrassing loss to the short-handed Arizona Cardinals, Kyle Shanahan, Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers took fire from all directions as they prepared for what was more or less a must-win game against the Los Angeles Rams.
The 49ers heard the chatter and the disrespect, and came out Monday and hammered the Rams 31-10 at Levi's Stadium and jumped back into the thick of the NFC playoff picture.
Shanahan isn't sure if hearing that noise led to the 49ers' best performance of the year, but he admitted that the 49ers absolutely heard the chatter about their putrid 3-5 start.
“I think so," Shanahan said after the win when asked if the 49ers took the criticism personally. "I think we've taken a lot this year personally, so I wouldn’t just say taking something personally is what leads to that. But we were very embarrassed about last week in every aspect, which we have been at a few things this year. I don't know if that's what leads to that, but we definitely played our best game all around.”
The 49ers opened their season with back-to-back wins over the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles before losing four straight games. A Week 8 win over the Chicago Bears stabilized the season momentarily, but the debacle against the Colt McCoy-led Cardinals meant their season was in danger of slipping away.
That was evident to everyone in the 49ers' locker room.
“Sort of. I don't want to call it a true wake-up," Garoppolo said about the loss to the Cardinals. "It kind of put our backs against the wall for a second. But it made us focus more during the week of practice, which I really liked. And I think we have to do that going forward. That's how you know, this league isn't easy. Every team's good. Jacksonville is going to come in here next week. Or we're going to go there ready to roll. And it's just, you always have to be ready.”
At 4-5, the 49ers now are on the fringe of the NFC playoffs as they begin preparations to face the Jaguars in Jacksonville in Week 11.
The 31-10 demolition of the Rams showed the 49ers what they could be when operating at their peak. Backed into a corner and fueled by enough criticism to power a space shuttle, the 49ers got off the mat Monday night and punched back.
The only question is: Can they keep it going?