The Thriller at Levi’s Stadium
Who would have thought that a Thursday Night Football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the San Francisco 49ers would turn into a 4th quarter, almost comeback shootout that had the fans at Levi’s Stadium as excited as they’ve been in years? No one. But it did.
The 49ers dropped to 0-3 with a 41-39 loss to the division rival Rams, but they sure made it interesting.
Trailing 34-20 with just under 13 minutes to play in the game, Brian Hoyer found Garrett Celek for a touchdown, before kicker Robbie Gould missed the extra point. That missed point proved to be the difference in the game, as after a Hoyer to Trent Taylor touchdown with 5:12 to go in the game, the 49ers were forced to attempt a two-point conversion, which they didn’t make. They recovered their onside kick, but the magic was gone and they did not score again.
“I was proud of the guys, how they fought,” said head coach Kyle Shanahan. “…I told them, ‘When you’re 0-3 and you’re facing some adversity, you either get better or worse.’ If you have mentally strong people, I believe we can get better from all this stuff and I believe we do have the right guys in that room. I don’t really care about the record right now. I care about how guys are responding to it and I want these guys to come back Monday ready to go and ready to fight to get our first win.
It’s worth noting that Taylor was called for what seemed to be a non-existent pass interference, but as Hoyer said after the game, “…[Y]ou don’t want to leave it up to the refs hands anyways. You hope you make a few plays earlier in the game to change the outcome. If it comes down to that, then that’s what it is. That’s what the guys job is to do.”
The 49ers offense had by far its best game of 2017, while the defense struggled to contain Rams’ quarterback Jared Goff and friends.
After throwing an interception that led to a Los Angeles touchdown on the first play of the game, Hoyer settled in and finished the night 23-of-37 for 332 yards and two touchdowns. He even ran in a nine-yard TD of his own, the first of the game and San Francisco’s first of the season.
Wide receiver Pierre Garçon had a monster night with seven receptions for 142 yards, including an absolutely incredible sideline catch, dragging his toes to stay in bounds. It. Was. Awesome.
“I was just playing football,” said Garçon. “It was nothing spectacular. It was just like we were practicing for. We call a play and at the end of the day we know what we have to do from the quarterback to the offensive linemen to the receivers. We have to catch whatever the quarterback throws. We have to keep playing football and every play matters. We just have to finish the plays and score touchdowns.”
Marquise Goodwin made a pretty impressive catch of his own, finishing the night with two receptions for 62 yards, one of which was a 50 yard bomb from Hoyer.
Carlos Hyde rushed for 84 yards and had two touchdowns. He left the game briefly with what he said was an oblique injury, but he looked fine once he was back in, extending plays and getting extra yardage wherever he could.
“That is just the fight in me,” said Hyde. “I refuse to go down. I just keep fighting, that is how I play. I knew that it was going to be tough coming into this game. I didn’t expect anything less from the Rams. They always play us tough, especially in the run game. I knew that it would take the extra effort to get one or two yards extra to move the chains.”
Meanwhile, that 49er defense that looked so strong in Seattle had very little left tonight. The pass rush was non-existent and the run defense was not exactly stellar. Running back Todd Gurley finished the night with 28 carries for 113 yards rushing, two rushing touchdowns and one receiving. Goff, who looks like a legitimate QB force, was 22-of-28 for 292 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Wide receivers Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods finished the night with 108 and 106 yards receiving, respectively. Watkins also had two touchdowns.
In fairness to the 49er D, the unit was on the field for almost 80 plays Sunday and they had a short week. Four days is not enough time to recover, especially when you have two of your most talented starters in Reuben Foster and Eric Reid out.
“We’ve got 10 days until our next game,” said Shanahan. “…Right now, it is a grind to play on Thursday, but the benefit of it is you get a little bit more time to recover. I think we do need that now, so we’re going to have rehab for the guys to get healthy and try to get the players away from us for about three days. I just really challenge them to use those three days away to get their bodies and minds right, because we plan on them coming back Monday and we plan on getting better each week.”
It was a tough night for injuries as Jaquiski Tartt, Kyle Juszczyk, and Brock Coyle are all in the concussion protocol. Juszczyk also has a neck injury and was wearing a soft neck brace after the game. Tank Carradine hurt his ankle. Football is a tough sport. Hopefully everyone can heal over the next 10 days.
The injured Reuben Foster was on the sideline in his jersey, college style. Except it said “Savage” on the back, not Foster. Love it.Don’t forget to subscribe to my weekly podcast and YouTube channel. Also, make sure to follow me on Twitter and Instagram @49ersfangirl. Go Niners!