The San Francisco 49ers are one of the most surprising teams in the NFL this season. Besides the New England Patriots, San Francisco is the only other undefeated team in the league.
In Week 6, the 49ers have a chance to expand their division lead over the Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks. Both Los Angeles and Seattle went to the playoffs last year and the Rams even reached the Super Bowl. However, San Francisco is in prime position to hold onto the division lead and defeat the Rams this week.
#4 Jimmy Garoppolo’s accuracy
Despite throwing four interceptions in San Francisco’s first four games of the season, Garoppolo has also completed 69.0% of his passes. While he needs to cut down on the turnovers, Garoppolo has set up a strong base for the passing game. Among quarterbacks who have started at least two games, Garoppolo is eighth in completion percentage.
Statistically, his best game came against the Cincinnati Bengals back in Week 2 when he threw for 296 yards and three touchdowns. However, Garoppolo doesn’t need to throw for a lot of yards to win games. The way the team and offense are built, he should focus on not turning the ball over and setting up the running game. He should take a page out of Russell Wilson’s role from last season.
#3 The emerging pass rush
San Francisco’s pass rush has been given a lot of attention after sacking Baker Mayfield four times on Monday night. While the defensive front is very talented, the team only has 13 sacks this season. That’s tied for 12th in the league and is almost doubled by New England’s league-leading 24 sacks.
However, there is hope that the unit will pick up production in the coming weeks. Nick Bosa had his first dominant game as an NFL player against the Cleveland Browns and DeForest Buckner has sacks in his last three games. Even Arik Armstead already has two sacks this season.
While he has two sacks in four games, the 49ers need Dee Ford to be more productive. He’s that last piece that can take San Francisco’s pass rush to another level, just like he did in Kansas City last year.
#2 Forcing Goff turnovers
Los Angeles’ offense isn’t the same dominant, consistent unit that we saw last season. The team cannot run the ball right now. They’re only grinding out 96.2 rushing yards per game, which ranks 22nd in the league. That puts more pressure on Jared Goff, who is on pace to set career highs in pass attempts and interceptions.
In the first five games of the season, Goff has thrown seven interceptions and lost four fumbles. He has turned the ball over at least once every game, including against Seattle’s 26th ranked pass defense last week. In contrast, the 49ers have the second-best pass defense in the NFL, allowing a stingy 175.8 passing yards per game. San Francisco’s seven forced interceptions are tied for second-most in the league as well.
Between the combination of the pass rush and San Francisco’s pass coverage, Goff is bound to turn the ball over several times. He’s prone to fumbling and the more he tries to keep the Rams in games, the more mistakes he makes. Goff is on pace to throw 710 pass attempts this season, which is ridiculous considering last year’s leader threw 675 times. However, the more he drops back to throw, the more chances the 49ers have of forcing a turnover. Goff is in for a long afternoon.
#1 An unstoppable ground game
Last season, the Seahawks led the NFL with 160 rushing yards per game. This year, San Francisco is setting the pace with an astounding 200 rushing yards per game. In the team’s most recent matchup, they rushed for 275 yards on 40 carries and scored two touchdowns. For the season, the 49ers are averaging 5.2 yards per carry.
Los Angeles’ run defense ranks 15th in the league, allowing 106.8 yards per game. Even with Aaron Donald on the opposing side, it’s safe to say the 49ers will surpass that average. San Francisco will gouge out chunks of yardage on the ground against the Rams.
San Francisco’s success lies in its three-headed backfield. Matt Breida, Tevin Coleman, and Raheem Mostert give the 49ers unmatched versatility at the running back position.