Nick Bosa

How 49ers' defense locked in after allowing early TD to Rams

How 49ers' defense locked in after allowing early TD to Rams

LOS ANGELES — The Rams' opening offensive drive made them seem unstoppable.

But the 49ers' defense regrouped, refocused and didn’t let LA reach the end zone again in their 20-7 win Sunday.

The Rams rushed the ball seven straight times for 56 yards to open the game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, as the 49ers allowed a touchdown on the ground for the first time this season. Maybe it was a little case of nerves in a big game. Maybe they were too excited. Maybe they really were a “fake undefeated team.”

That clearly was not the case, though. After the first drive, the 49ers allowed just 109 yards of total offense and stopped the Rams on nine third-down and four fourth-down plays.

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan admitted he was surprised by the Rams' offensive strategy to start the game.

“I haven’t been a part of any first drives where you see a team run it seven times in a row just right down your throat, for that to be it,” Shanahan said. “The way the guys recovered after that, it was a hell of a deal. They kept battling.”

Through Shanahan's headset, he could hear defensive coordinator Robert Saleh's message.

“I think it was just to not panic,” Shanahan said. “We got to start tackling better. They got some cut-backs and a few gaps. We missed a few stunts, and they gapped us out a little bit. When that happens, you are going to get a lot of yards before contact.

“We just had to settle down a little bit, keep our guys in the right gaps, and when we did that, there wasn’t as much space. And when there wasn’t as much space, we started tackling a lot better."

Saleh won't give away all of his defense's secrets, but it's clear he quickly found little in-game adjustments to get his group back on track.

“We just had to get a grasp on what kind of runs we were getting,” Saleh said. “And then what we could do without disrupting the structure of the defense. So, the adjustments we made in between series right there, we’ll keep it in house obviously, though the guys did a great job executing it, the coaches did a great job coaching it, and we were able to put all that stuff to bed.”

[RELATED: 49ers' defense hounds Goff to career-low in passing yards]

Here’s what several players said about the adjustments after the initial and only Rams touchdown: 

DE Nick Bosa 

“They had one play on us early, and once we made the adjustment, it was game over. We were fine. Once our offense went down and scored, we were all good. We just had to stay in the game.”  

DL DeForest Buckner 

“A lot of guys. It was really guys talking. Kwon [Alexander] came up and told us to just get on our jobs. We made slight adjustments, and it was all good from there. Settle the nerves. We didn’t panic. We knew there was a lot of ball left, and the guys really stepped up to the challenge.” 

LB Kwon Alexander 

"Let’s get back to the basics. That wasn’t us the first drive. I knew that wasn’t us the first drive. We just got back to doing what we do best, playing team ball, and playing sound and scheme sound.”

DB Emmanuel Moseley

“We just locked in. After the first series, we came to the sideline and told each other, ‘Let’s do better.’ We know we can do better, and we did the exact game plan that we went out there to do, and it worked.”

Kyle Shanahan gushes over what healthy Nick Bosa has given 49ers

Kyle Shanahan gushes over what healthy Nick Bosa has given 49ers

A healthy Nick Bosa is a sight to see, and 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan couldn't help but laugh in agreement.

"He doesn't just jump off the screen all the time, you know, with just his speed and everything, but he beats that tackle almost every time," Shanahan told Greg Papa on "49ers Game Plan," which is scheduled to air at 8 p.m. Saturday on NBC Bay Area. 

Bosa started off the season with a nagging ankle injury and even when he wasn't 100 percent, he was making an impact.

"Finally he was healthy enough to keep him out there longer, and he didn't disappoint," Shanahan added.

Bosa's teammates have also been impressed with what he's done on the field. Richard Sherman called Bosa one of the best teammates you could ask for, and it's been that way since day one. 

[RELATED: Will Kittle play against Rams?]

The newly named NFC Defensive Player of the Week tallied two sacks, two tackles for loss, five quarterback hits, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in San Francisco's 31-3 win over the Cleveland Browns on Monday night.

It appears Bosa is just getting started, and no one is happier than Shanahan.

Why 49ers' D-line isn't overlooking Rams’ offense without Todd Gurley

Why 49ers' D-line isn't overlooking Rams’ offense without Todd Gurley

Even though the 49ers used multiple first-round draft picks on defensive linemen over the past few seasons, their front four was a point of concern.

So, general manager John Lynch and the San Francisco front office were proactive in the offseason, drafting Ohio State standout defensive end Nick Bosa No. 2 overall and acquiring Dee Ford in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs.

In an exclusive sit-down with NBC Sports Bay Area’s Greg Papa, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan praised a defensive unit that has been dominant through four games this season.

“Well, I think the one fact is everyone knows we’ve gotten a lot better,” Shanahan said. “You can see that in tape as a coach, and I think that fans can see that very easily, too.”

The Los Angeles Rams -- who will host the vaunted 49ers defense in a critical NFC West matchup Sunday -- rushed for more than 150 yards in last year’s season finale against the 49ers and were a top-five rushing offense in 2018.

However, star running back Todd Gurley has been banged up all season and will miss Sunday’s matchup, and the highly regarded Rams offense ranks just 22nd in rushing through five games in 2019.

“People underestimate how valuable it is for an O-line to play together,” Shanahan told Papa. “When you change a couple guys out, it takes time to gel. The guys they had before were there for a long time, [and] they have a couple new guys in there, and that doesn’t mean they’re worse players. It just means it just takes a little bit to get their rhythm.”

[RELATED: How 49ers will adapt on offense without valuable Juszczyk]

You can see the full sit-down interview on “49ers Gameplan,” as the new episode premieres Oct. 12 at 8 p.m. PT on NBC Bay Area, and will re-air on NBC Sports Bay Area at 9 p.m. PT.