By: Joe Lami
SANTA CLARA, Calif.–In one of the most underwhelming Monday Night Football games in NFL history, the San Francisco 49ers earned their first ever week one shutout, blanking the Los Angeles Rams 28-0.
The Rams offense struggled all day, as the 49ers’ front seven was completely dominant, holding study running back Todd Gurley to just 47 yards on 17 carries.
After selecting Jarred Goff with the first overall pick in this year’s draft, Jeff Fisher made the decision that the former Cal standout will be this year’s third string quarterback.
Getting the start instead was Case Keenum, who finished with an awful passer rating of 24.8; totalling 130 yards, completing 48% and throwing two interceptions. Middle Linebackers, Navarro Bowman and Ray-Ray Armstrong, were the recipients of those picks as the defense dominated the Rams, holding them to 185 total yards.
Chip Kelly’s offensive look was a perfect mix of patience and aggressiveness for the Niners, as they were able to dial up the right formula totalling 320 yards in the win. The aggressiveness came in at the right time, going for it twice on fourth down. Even though the Niners only converted on one of them, it helped with the momentum. Kelly mentioned the field position as the main reason for going for it, as the wind was howling on Monday night.
Carlos Hyde carried the team with 88 yards on 22 carries for two touchdowns. One of which was a beautiful 11 yard run up the middle, in which Hyde stutter-stepped his way through an opening hole before exploding for the first touchdown of the season. Hyde also put the final nail in the coffin with 5:14 remaining in the game, hammering the
ball in from a yard out.
Quarterback, Blaine Gabbert finished the day 22 of 35 for 170 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown pass found Vance McDonald, wide open at the goal line. The pass was a touch low, but the tight end was able to roll his way into the end zone, making the score 20-0 at the time.
It seems like Gabbert has already found comfort in a number one receiving option in Jeremy Kerley, who came over from Detroit in a trade just last week. Kerley finished the night with seven catches on 11 targets for 61 yards, leading Niner receivers.
Gabbert was also a threat on the ground, finishing the day with 43 yards on nine carries. Most of his running came in the first quarter, which later allowed Hyde to break out with after the Rams’ defensive line had to watch out for the read-option.
“Up front as a rush we let that quarterback step up and extend plays that we should’ve stopped,” said Rams’ defensive tackle, Aaron Donald, who was ejected in the fourth quarter. “I just let emotions get the best of me. There’s no excuses. I can’t make mistakes like that and hurt my team,” he added.
After the poor performance, LA fans will have to wait yet another week for the team’s first points since Christmas Eve of 1994, in which the Rams lost their last game played in Southern California.
The 49ers can be proud of their great performance on Monday, but with a short week in front of them, it will be back work for the red and gold as they travel to Carolina on Sunday to face the NFC Champion Panthers.