It was far from perfect, but the San Francisco 49ers managed a 34-31 back-and-forth victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday night. With Week 16’s win, the 49ers recorded their first sweep of the Rams since the 2016 season. Jeff Deeney of Pro Football Focus highlighted several top performers from the divisional matchup. Here’s who impressed:
1. Fred Warner – 91.5 overall grade
San Francisco’s second-year linebacker is coming off of one of the best performances of his NFL career. Warner was second on the team with 11 total tackles on Saturday and made one of the biggest plays of the night with a game changing pick-six. Warner’s interception marked the first of his career. He also registered four run stops on the day and earned the 49ers best grade on defense.
2. K’Waun Williams – 90.9 overall grade
Williams made his return against the Rams since missing Week 15 with a head injury. The cornerback was once again extremely effective blitzing from the slot. Williams tallied a quarterback hit and a quarterback hurry in three blitzes. He also forced a fumble of Rams receiver Cooper Kupp, his fourth forced fumble of the season, which is the most of any cornerback through 16 weeks.
3. Arik Armstead – 87.0 overall grade
Following his Pro Bowl snub, Armstead put together a strong outing in Week 16. The defensive lineman registered six quarterback hurries, three run stops and a pass breakup. He now owns an 89.7 overall grade on the season, which currently ranks third among edge defenders (TJ Watt, Calais Campbell) and first among NFC edge defenders.
4. George Kittle – 83.2 overall grade
Kittle led the team with five receptions for 79 yards against the Rams on Saturday. All five of his catches resulted in either a first down or touchdown. Kittle has earned a 94.4 overall grade for the season, which is still the highest in the NFL heading into the remaining games in Week 16. He is also on pace to break the record for the highest overall grade ever for a tight end in a season in the PFF era (Rob Gronkowski – 92.0 in 2011). Kittle is now 33 yards shy of his second-consecutive 1,000 yard season.
5. DeForest Buckner – 75.9 overall grade
Despite the 49ers not registering a sack on the day, San Francisco managed to pressure Goff on 20 of his 50 dropbacks (40 percent). Buckner also tallied seven quarterback hurries in Saturday’s win.
6. Richard Sherman – 71.9 overall grade
San Francisco’s Pro Bowl corner did not allow a single catch on his two targets on the night. He also recorded three run stops against the Rams. Sherman has allowed 0.48 receiving yards per snap in coverage this season, which is the lowest among cornerbacks and would be the lowest of any season of his career.
San Francisco’s tight end came up clutch on his lone passing route of the game. In the middle of the fourth quarter, Garoppolo connected with Dwelley on a 25-yard reception to move San Francisco into scoring position. An unnecessary roughness penalty on Rams safety Eric Weddle tacked on an additional 15 yards after the catch. Dwelley’s play set up Kittle for his 7-yard touchdown catch two plays later to give San Francisco the lead.
In the final ten minutes of Saturday night’s game, Garoppolo was 6-of-8 passing for 134 yards and one touchdown for a passer rating of 156.3.