By Sam McPherson
The San Francisco 49ers flipped the script a bit in Week 3 on Thursday Night Football as they took on the Los Angeles Rams at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. Instead of the defense playing well while the offense struggled, it was the exact opposite for the 49ers in the 41-39 loss that dropped the team’s record this season to 0-3.
The Rams offense took advantage of a S.F. defense that was a little tired from its road effort against the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday and a little dinged up as well with a short week of rest. However those aren’t excuses, as both teams obviously had to deal with the quick turnaround between games. But it was an exciting game that went right down to the wire.
The only real mistake the offense made was on the first play of the game when quarterback Brian Hoyer threw an interception that led to an easy Rams touchdown just 12 seconds into the first quarter. Otherwise, the 49ers offense looked a lot better than it did in the first two weeks of the season when it couldn’t score a TD.
Hoyer threw for 332 yards on the night and tossed two TD passes as well. Running back Carlos Hyde shook off a hip problem early in the game to run for 84 yards and two scores. Wide receiver Pierre Garcon caught seven passes for 142 yards on the night, showing a lot of passion and fire in the process that seemed to energize his teammates.
The secondary was banged up coming into the game, which explains why second-year QB Jared Goff looked like a Hall of Famer against the San Francisco defense, completing 22 of 28 passes for 292 yards and three TDs. The 49ers couldn’t sack Goff either, which resulted in an easy day for the former California Bears standout.
The Rams didn’t run wild on the ground against the S.F. defense, although they did clear the 100-yard mark. L.A. running back Todd Gurley scored three TDs, however, including two on the ground. The 49ers just didn’t have many answers for the Rams offense on Thursday night.
Special Teams: A-
Forcing multiple turnovers on special teams always gets this grade on the high end; both the kick and punt return coverage units came up with big plays to force fumbles and keep San Francisco in the game until the end. A successful onside kick recovery was very impressive, too. Kicker Robbie Gould missed an extra point, however, and that was very costly in the end.
We’re going to give the 49ers defensive coaching staff a pass on this one, because of the short week to prepare and the injuries that seem to be mounting on that side of the ball. The offense finally found itself, which was quite exciting for anyone that watched this game live or on television.
What’s more is that Head Coach Kyle Shanahan has this S.F. roster fighting hard on every play, and even if the team is 0-3 right now, it’s an entirely different organizational mindset from the depressing 2016 campaign. There are bright days ahead for this franchise, and it’s time to get on board for those 49er Faithful that have been hesitant to embrace the team this year.
Up Next: Arizona Cardinals
Right now the Cardinals are an unimpressive 1-1 on the season, with the victory being in overtime on the road against a bad Indianapolis Colts squad. Arizona is missing its best offensive player, too, as running back David Johnson is out with a wrist injury. This could be the perfect chance for the 49ers, coming off a long rest and perhaps flowing with confidence, to earn their first win of the 2017 season.