There was a lot of doubt surrounding the San Francisco 49ers following a disastrous 2015 season. There was doubt about their quarterback situation, their depth, and even their new head coach. Chip Kelly's offense had been figured out. There was no way that it could flourish again in the NFL. How could an anemic offense hope to overcome such a dominant Los Angeles Rams defensive front? Someone forgot to tell that to the two teams playing during the second game of an ESPN doubleheader on Monday night as the 49ers cruised to a 28-0 victory over the visiting Rams.
It has been a while since the 49ers offense was as productive as it was on Monday night. The last time the 49ers won a game by more than 21 points was on October 27, 2013, during a 42-10 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Following violinist Lindsey Stirling's beautiful rendition of the national anthem where all media eyes were on 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the Rams' opening drive stalled in San Francisco territory. That allowed the revamped 49ers offense to take the field for the first time.
Just as it did during preseason, the 49ers offense got off to a slow start. And just like in preseason, the 49ers offense followed up their slow start with a scoring drive. During the first two drives, QB Blaine Gabbert looked like a running back, carrying the ball four times for 30 yards. The team's second offensive possession ended with a delayed 11-yard touchdown run by fast-footed RB Carlos Hyde in a drive that saw Kelly's fast-paced offense go 52 yards in 10 players in just over 3 minutes.
The Rams' fourth offensive possession of the game ended when Quinton Dial deflected a Case Keenum pass at the line of scrimmage, sending it into the air and then into the arms of OLB NaVorro Bowman for the interception. On the ensuring drive, the 49ers went for it on fourth-and-6. Gabbert connected with new 49ers wide receiver Jeremy Kerley, who the 49ers traded for on August 28, to keep the play alive. The drive ended with another 49ers score by a San Francisco running back, this time a three yard touchdown run by Shaun Draughn.
The score put the 49ers up 14-0 and that was the score entering halftime. During the first half, the 49ers out up 203 total yards of offense with 123 of those yards coming on the ground. The 49ers defense held the Rams to just 87 total yards of offense in the first half, including just 36 rushing. The 49ers had 16 first downs in the first half compared to just five by the Rams.
Near the end of the third quarter, the Rams offense nearly got into the red zone for the first time. However, the 49ers defense continued their dominant performance when ILB Ray-Ray Armstrong jumped in from of Keenum pass to haul in the interception. The 49ers capitalized off of the turnover and drive down the field covering 77 yards in 10 plays, ending the possession with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Gabbert to TE Vance McDonald. The score have the 49ers a three touchdown lead.
Late in the fourth quarter, the 49ers engineered a 10-play, 80-yard drive that consumed nearly six minutes and ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Hyde to put San Francisco up 28-0. That would end up being the final score of the game.
The Rams did briefly get into the red zone late in the fourth quarter. It was brief because it was on a 5-yard run to the 49ers' 19-yard line by Keenum on 4th-and-10, which turned the ball over on downs.
With the game well in hand, Kaepernick entered the game at quarterback in the final two minutes. He did not throw a pass and was booed by the home crowd.
|Top 49ers Performers|
The 49ers revamped offensive line held up very well against the Rams' defense. Gabbert was not sacked in the game and Hyde rushed for 88 yards on 23 carries. Gabbert finished the game completing 22 of his 35 passes for 170 yards, a touchdown, and a passer rating of 114.2. Kerley led the team in receiving with seven catches for 61 yards.
Two of the Rams' most highly-touted players were contained very well by the 49ers. The 49ers defense was able to limit RB Todd Gurley while the San Francisco offensive line kept DT Aaron Donald's name from called by the announcing crew too often – except for a roughing the passer penalty, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and an ejection from the game after coming in contact with an official.
|Penalties (Yds)||10 (102)||2 (10)|
|Punts (AVG)||10 (42)||7 (40)|
|Time of Pos.||27:50||32:10|
Gurley, the most explosive Rams player on offense, was held to just 47 yards on 17 carries. No Rams receiver caught more than four passes. Keenum was 17 of 35 for 130 yards and two interceptions, bringing into question the timetable for starting rookie Jared Goff for the Rams.
The 49ers had only two penalties during the game for 10 yards compared to the Rams, who had 10 penalties for 102 yards. The shutout was the first for the Rams since Week 16 of 2011.
OG Andrew Tiller left the game at the end of the first quarter with an injury to his right foot. Tiller was playing for OT Anthony Davis, who opted to not start at right guard and instead back up Trent Brown at right tackle. Tiller, the 49ers' best rated (per Pro Football Focus) offensive lineman last season after Joe Staley, was replaced by one of their worst rated – Marcus Martin.
Tiller returned to the game.
Notes and Quotes
Following the game, Kelly called Anthony Davis' absence from practice on Saturday a "miscommunication" between himself and the offensive lineman. He also stated that the decision to start Tiller over Davis was his. "We'll continue to grow AD," said Kelly. He didn't want to explain the situation beyond that.
Linebacker Eli Harold said he was pissed off when 49ers fans were booing Kap at the end of the game— Kevin Jones (@Mr_KevinJones) September 13, 2016
"Our guys played really hard and our guys did a good job executing," said 49ers defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil. "It was fun to watch."
Very special night for Vance McDonald. Scores a TD with his 8-week-old son Coman in attendance at his first #49ers game.— Joe Fann (@Joe_Fann) September 13, 2016
"The quarterbacks are all in [the quarterback room] to get each other better," said Gabbert regarding his relationship with Kaepernick.