The San Francisco 49ers opened up on offense to start their crucial Week 6 NFC West bout with the Los Angeles Rams, yet their opening drive petered out awfully quick, going 3-and-out, as quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was sacked by Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

Donald quickly worked around rookie left tackle Justin Skule, which highlighted what was going to be a crucial matchup for an injury-plagued Niners team entering the contest. Skule, along with backup tackle Daniel Brunskill, were starting in place of injured tackles, Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey, who are expected to be out for a few weeks.

The Niners weren't able to run the ball effectively early, while the Rams were. Runs right towards the interior of San Francisco were particularly effective, as fill-in running back Malcolm Brown picked up 40 rush yards during L.A.'s first possession. And it culminated in an 8-yard rush score by wide receiver Robert Woods, which marked the first rushing touchdown the Niners have allowed this season.

Yet San Francisco was able to move the ball a little more effectively its following drive, including a critical third-down pickup of 10 yards by tight end George Kittle, followed by a 17-yard catch and run by running back Matt Breida. Wide receiver Dante Pettis added a catch of his own, which helped running back Tevin Coleman rush it in from the 2-yard line:

All tied up at seven apiece.

The 49ers defense held its own the following stand, culminating in something of a gift sack for defensive end Ronald Blair, who was part of Rams quarterback Jared Goff going down on third down rather awkwardly, forcing a punt.

One should note, though, EDGEs Nick Bosa and Dee Ford created the pressure, which resulted in Blair's sack.

The 49ers were able to drive the length of the field their next possession, which included an impressive 45-yard catch and run by Kittle. But Garoppolo and the 49ers couldn't take advantage of the red-zone opportunity, as the quarterback tossed a fade interception right into the waiting arms of Rams cornerback Marcus Peters. One could argue the officials missed a hold on Kittle in the end zone, but it mattered not. Instead, a flag was thrown against wide receiver Deebo Samuel for a facemask after the interception.

Fortunately, San Francisco's defense calmed down after its first stand, holding Los Angeles to a punt after the turnover and following penalty.

The 49ers' following drive petered out, too, thanks largely to Donald's presence again, forcing another punt, which stayed in Niners territory. The shortish punt was made worse by Rams running back Darrell Henderson's 23-yard rush on his first carry of the game the following play. Then a 14-yard rush again after his first big gain.

Los Angeles tried to punch it in on back-to-back plays on the 49ers 1-yard line, including a 4th-and-goal attempt, yet both were stymied by San Francisco's goal-line defense:

Perhaps that's a huge moment from the game, to be determined in the second half.

The Niners were able to move into Rams territory in the waning minutes, settling for a 55-yard attempt from kicker Robbie Gould, which missed wide and short, keeping things tied at seven apiece.

Los Angeles will get the ball on offense to start the second half.
  • Peter Panacy
  • Written by:
    Peter Panacy has been writing about the 49ers since 2011 for outlets like Bleacher Report, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, and is occasionally heard as a guest on San Francisco's 95.7 FM The Game and the Niners' flagship station, KNBR 680. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to his Twitter account.

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