What a difference two weeks makes. The San Francisco 49ers were reeling after a Week 5 blowout at the hands of the Miami Dolphins. They dropped to No. 20 in the NFL Wire power rankings with a climb back up looking like a near impossible task. Now a win over the Rams followed by last week’s 33-6 shellacking of the New England Patriots has the 49ers up to No. 15.
While all eyes turned to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo when the defense suffered major injuries, it was the defense and an under-appreciated offensive weapons that starred Sunday in New England and catalyzed San Francisco’s four-spot jump.
There were many standout players for the 49ers, from linebacker Fred Warner, who is becoming one of the best defenders in the league to running back Jeffery Wilson, who was a force for the 49ers before coming up injured with what looked to be a knee injury. But if you were head coach Kyle Shanahan, you’re probably sending a game ball Kyle Juszczyk’s way. San Francisco’s ability to get to the edges in both the run and the pass game was due in large part to what the fullback was doing in space. From lead blocks to crack blocks and even some cut blocks out of the slot, Juszczyk was a force, and created space for his teammates all night long. He was rewarded with a touchdown run of his own in the contest, nabbing his second touchdown of the year. It was well-deserved.
This is the formula for the 49ers, and will continue to be if they’re going to continue climbing up the power rankings and building toward a playoff spot. They’re going to play stout defense and rely on versatile players like Juszczyk, George Kittle and Deebo Samuel to carry the offense.