Deebo Samuel and Jimmy Garoppolo are getting a great deal of the fanfare following the San Francisco 49ers‘ drubbing of the Los Angeles Rams in primetime Monday night, and their acclaim well deserved. But it is defensive captain Jimmie Ward who deserves the honors of game MVP.
Beyond Most Valuable Player for the two interceptions he swiped and the touchdown he scored to help San Francisco to a 31-10 home victory in a must-win game, the Niners’ safety is also deserving of another, less official award — MVTT, as in Most Valuable Trash Talker.
Ward landed in the end zone after one of his INTs, but also landed flat on his back after the other, courtesy of new Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
Ward and the rest of the Niners’ secondary shut down the former Pro-Bowler in his debut for Los Angeles, holding Beckham to just 2 catches for a total of 18 yards, per statistics provided by ESPN.
Beckham did, however, get a bit of alternate action after Rams’ QB Matt Stafford winged an errant pass into Ward’s arms, but it was action for which the Niners’ safety has now vowed revenge.
Bleacher Report Gridiron took to Twitter on Wednesday, November 17 to publish Ward’s words in reaction to the hit.
“I’mma have to pay him back next time I see him,” Ward said. “I’ve been waiting a long time to hit (OBJ).”
Niners May Have Salvaged Season With MNF Victory
In the NFL, wins don’t come cheap, but that doesn’t mean that some aren’t worth a little more than others.
Such was the case with the Niners’ victory Monday against the Rams. San Francisco entered the contest with a record of 3-5, winless at home during the regular season. To that point, the team’s victories had come over lesser opponents in the form of the Detroit Lions, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Chicago Bears — all squads with losing records and precarious playoff hopes, at best.
The Niners needed a win to right the ship, to get out of the basement in the NFC West and to position themselves for a late-season run at one of the last Wildcard berths in the conference. By dismantling Los Angeles, the 49ers accomplished all three.
Now with a record 4-5, the Niners head to Jacksonville to take on the hapless Jaguars in an effort to move back to .500 on the year. Just because the opponent is Jacksonville doesn’t mean a win is guaranteed. It’s still a road game, and the Jags pulled off a 9-6 stunner of a victory just two weeks ago at home against the Buffalo Bills.
But the Niners are 6-point favorites as of Wednesday afternoon and as strange as it seems, a win over the Jaguars could change the way the 49ers are seen and spoken about nationally.
SF More Formidable Than National Narrative Suggests?
If the NFL playoffs began today, the Niners would be watching from home. But as rocky as the season has been to this point, San Francisco is only a half-game out of the 7th and final NFC playoff spot.
Consider a victory against Jacksonville and a 5-5 record with seven games to play. The only truly quality win in the Niners’ jacket would be the Rams, but two of San Francisco’s losses have been one-score games at the hands of the NFC’s top two teams.
The Green Bay Packers eked out a late 30-28 victory over the Niners back in Week 3. A healthy Arizona Cardinals team barely held on to win 17-10 over San Francisco two weeks later in the desert. The division rivals have already met twice, which means the Niners will not have to worry about the Cardinals again during the regular season.
San Francisco’s schedule is no gimme down the stretch, but there are winnable games littered over the last two months of the year. Namely, home games against the Atlanta Falcons and the Houston Texans. For any chance at a playoff run, the Niners will probably need to win both those contests, as well as beat the Jaguars on Sunday.
The rest of the slate, save for a home contest against the Minnesota Vikings in two weeks, are road games against mostly quality opponents in the Seattle Seahawks, Cincinnati Bengals, Tennessee Titans and the Rams.
It won’t be easy, but after San Francisco’s victory Monday night, a record of 9-8 or 10-7 remains within reasonable reach. If Ward can keep his head on a swivel, and the Niners’ can keep their collective head above water, the Niners’ safety will get another shot at Beckham in Week 18 — one that might just coincide with a shot for San Francisco to earn a spot in the postseason.