Christian McCaffrey

What we learned as 49ers grind out tough win over Rams

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INGLEWOOD — The 49ers’ dominating Week 1 performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers, perhaps, set an unrealistically high bar.

It took the 49ers a while to get there on Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams.

But when they got going, they left little doubt in a 30-23 victory over their Southern California rivals in front of a majority of red-clad fans at SoFi Stadium.

The victory improves the 49ers’ record to 2-0 on the season, leaving them as the only unbeaten team in the NFC West after the first two weeks of the regular season.

Rookie kicker Jake Moody broke a late-third-quarter tie with a 57-yard field goal, and the 49ers asserted themselves on both sides of the ball after that.

Moody, again, was perfect on the day with field goals of 27, 57 and 26 yards.

Here are the takeaways from the 49ers’ victory:

Purdy puts streaks on the line

Quarterback Brock Purdy was a little off his game on Sunday, but it still was good enough for a winning effort.

Purdy saw an end to his streak of two or more touchdown passes to open a career. His string stops at six games, as he missed on some golden opportunities for big plays against the Rams’ defense.

He also saw his streak snapped of six consecutive starts to open a career games with passer ratings of 95 or better in winning efforts.

He completed 17 of 25 passes for 206 yards with no touchdown, no interceptions and a passer rating of 93.2.

Purdy did not throw a touchdown pass, but he ended the first half on a high note when he scored on a 1-yard sneak to tie the game, 17-17, entering the third quarter.

It was Purdy’s second career rushing touchdown.

Purdy had one major opportunity for a big play in the first half, when Brandon Aiyuk got wide open down the field on a double move against Rams cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon. Purdy badly overthrew Aiyuk for an incompletion.

Purdy also missed an opportunity for a big play on the 49ers’ first drive of the second half when he overthrew Jauan Jennings on a deep seam route.

Later in the third quarter, Purdy overthrew Deebo Samuel for what would have been a 61-yard touchdown. Samuel beat Rams cornerback Derion Kendrick on the play.

Moody made a 57-yard field goal on the next play to give the 49ers a 20-17 lead.

Defense gets picked apart, until . . .

The 49ers showed their superiority over the Steelers from the outset of their regular-season opener. The 49ers stuffed Pittsburgh on five consecutive drives with three-and-outs to open the game.

On Sunday, the defense simply could not get off the field against Matthew Stafford and the Rams’ offense in the first half.

The Rams had three possessions, and they completely controlled things with drives that resulted in four, five and seven first downs.

Stafford completed 14 of 18 pass attempts for 143 yards with one touchdown and a passer rating of 118.3 in the first 30 minutes of the game.

The defense finally picked things up in the second half.

Nickel back Isaiah Oliver made a stop of Rams running back Kyren Williams to force the first Rams punt of the day.

Then, he intercepted a pass off the hands of Williams. And the Rams’ next possession ended when linebacker Fred Warner threw quarterback Matthew Stafford for a 10-yard loss when defensive coordinator Steve Wilks dialed up a blitz.

Cornerback Deommodore Lenoir, in essence, clinched the win with at interception of Stafford with less than five minutes remaining.

Stafford finished the game 34-of-55 for 307 yards, while throwing one touchdown pass and two interceptions.

McCaffrey gets going early

Running back Christian McCaffrey made his first start with the 49ers on the road against the Rams in Week 8 of last season.

In that game, he threw for a touchdown and scored touchdowns rushing and receiving. That game signaled the start of the 49ers’ offense as everybody now knows it.

McCaffrey got off to a big start on Sunday with a 14-yard touchdown run to cap the 49ers’ game-opening drive.

Then, on the 49ers’ next possession he broke off a 51-yard run at the end of the first quarter. After the drive stalled, Moody booted a 27-yard field goal to give the 49ers a 10-3 lead.

McCaffrey finished the game with 116 yards and a touchdown on 20 rushing attempts. He also had three receptions for 19 total yards.

The Stanford product took over the starting job from Elijah Mitchell when he arrived in the midseason trade from the Carolina Panthers. Now, his play does not even allow Mitchell to get off the sideline.

The only other 49ers to have rushing attempts on Sunday were Samuel (two rushes for 24 yards and a touchdown) and Purdy (three carries for 5 yards and a touchdown).

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