What do we make of this game? On one hand, the 49ers’ defense looked absolutely fantastic. The Rams had more punts than first downs and fewer points than one, while the 49ers scored 28. The 49ers’ offensive line looked like a formidable group that didn’t need Anthony Davis, while the same unit on the Rams’ side seemed like college-caliber weaklings by comparison.
Then again, this was fairly predictable.
“I wouldn’t be surprised either way, but I kind of see this as a win for the 49ers similar to what we saw last year against the Vikings. The Vikings had to travel a lot longer than the Rams will, but I think they weren’t really sure what Jim Tomsula’s team had in store, Carlos Hyde was healthy and the 49ers played a pretty spirited game opening night.
The Rams, while they have a really good front seven, there’s not a lot on the offensive side.”
That’s what I said six days ago on the “Gold Faithful” podcast. I didn’t know the Rams would be this bad, but we’ll find out soon if the 49ers are really this good.
Tomsula’s 49ers beat the Vikings 20-3 in Week 1 a year ago at Levi’s Stadium, and Minnesota ended up being doing hell of a lot more than this trashtastic Rams squad ever will with Jeff “I’m not (bleeping) going 7-9” Fisher, who worries more about teaching dirty tricks than running a league-average offense, as head coach. That game wasn’t exactly a carbon copy of tonight, because tonight Blaine Gabbert started over Colin Kaepernick, Carlos Hyde wasn’t quite as dominant as he was against the Vikes, and Chippy K was on the sideline instead of Jimmy T (easily the most significant difference).
The hope on the 49ers’ side is they don’t have a repeat of Week 2, when they played an early game on the East Coast against a strong squad coming off a tough loss with four days more rest than the 49ers. The Steelers won 43-18, and the 49ers were lucky to keep the game that close. We’ll see what the Panthers have in store.
There were some obvious similarities between the two games, other than the score. Like quarterback stat lines, as Kaepernick completed 17-of-26 passes for 165 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions, while Gabbert went 22-for-35 with 170 yards, a scoring throw to Vance McDonald and no picks. Another was the 49ers’ ability to lock down a star running back. Adrian Peterson rushed 10 times for 31 yards in his return to action, and Todd Gurley amassed only 47 yards on 17 carries.
Gurley also committed one of the Rams’ four(!) personal fouls. Their star on defense, Aaron Donald, was so rattled by his lack of production and his team’s lack of a short-term future that he was ejected after making contact with an official and attempting to separate Quinton Patton’s head from his body. The Rams were frustrated, as Los Angeles football fans have to be wondering why the NFL hates them — they could’ve easily handed them the Chargers and Raiders, and instead they’re stuck with the Fightin’ Fishers.
— Trent Brown is for real. It’s not just that he moves guys around at ease, but what a nimble guy for his size. As Steve Young said, if you’ll admit to being 355 pounds, you probably weigh 400.
— Young instead of Trent Dilfer was a nice change from last year.
— Maybe the 49ers can trade Davis for a receiver? Jeremy Kerley was surprisingly productive, but they could always use another and Davis is just plain weird.
— No need to add anyone to this secondary, though. I can’t remember another game with so many cornerbacks batting passes away.
— The 49ers committed just two 5-yard penalties, once again hammering home the point that Chip Kelly is much better than Fisher. The 49ers were flagged eight times for 57 yards against Minnesota last year, by the way.
— Hyde and Gabbert took some shots in this game. They can afford to lose the latter, but it was a little surprising to see Hyde get five carries in their last scoring drive as they ran clock in the fourth quarter.
— This was not a good week for the NFC West. Seattle should’ve lost at home to Miami, Arizona lost to Jimmy Garoppolo last night, and while the 49ers were excellent on defense and won the battles on the line of scrimmage, this game was hideous from a passing offense perspective and the 49ers — while certainly better — weren’t blameless.
— “That was the most exciting thing to happen tonight.” A fan ran onto the field, and all he did (other than earn a beating from security guards and a night in jail) was make everyone love Kevin Harlan even more than they already did.
Kevin Harlan is a national treasure: pic.twitter.com/CQFjPxkTMX
— Dieter Kurtenbach (@dkurtenbach) September 13, 2016
— Here’s another difference between the two Week 1s: NaVorro Bowman is faster than he was a year ago.
— “We’re trying to forget this one as quick as possible,” Bowman said. “A lot of guys that was on this team last year understand what we did last year after the first game and we’re trying not to let that happen again.”