The Rams traveled to the bay for a Thursday night matchup with the San Francisco 49ers. They came out victorious by a score of 41-39, led by a stellar offensive performance.
The Rams kicked off to get the game under way, putting their defense on the field to start. Nickell Robey-Coleman intercepted Brian Hoyer on the very first play of the game, reading the pass all the way. Robey-Coleman was starting in place of the injured Kayvon Webster. He returned the pick to the San Francisco three yard line, where the offense took over.
Jared Goff and the Rams offense took the field for the first time just after the interception. Todd Gurley took the handoff on the offense’s first play from scrimmage and plowed into the end zone. The Rams offensive line blocked very well and Gurley hit the hole hard for a quick score. Out of all possible scenarios, the Rams likely could not have envisioned a much better start.
After another Greg Zuerlein kickoff the Rams defense took the field again. The 49ers brought the run consistently in their second drive, attempting to exploit the Rams week two weakness. After a few strong 49ers runs the Rams halted the drive just shy of midfield, forcing the punt. Michael Brockers made an excellent play on this drive, making a tackle for loss despite being hold. The Rams Blake Countess made an awful play on the punt, jumping offsides and giving the Niners a first down.
San Francisco strung short runs and passes together over the next few plays, working down to the Rams 15 yard line. The Niners proceeded to make the Rams pay for Countess’ mistake, when Brian Hoyer escaped the pocket and tucked the ball, rushing for a nine yard touchdown.
The Rams offense then took over for their first real drive of the night, starting at their now 25. Goff did a good job escaping pressure on first down, but took a sack on third down. Luckily for the Rams, their drive was extended by a penalty in the 49ers secondary. Goff went on to escape pressure yet again, delivering a strike to Robert Woods for a big gain. He followed that up with another completion to Derek Carrier for another first down. Now in the red zone, Gurley rushed and then received the ball for a total of eight yards. Facing third and short from the Niners seven Goff took the snap and quickly found Gurley in the flat, he turned it up for an easy touchdown. Just two offensive possessions in Gurley already had two touchdowns.
The Niners took over once again at their own 19 yard line after good special teams work by the Rams. The 49ers got off to a quick start this drive, getting over midfield after just three plays. However, Tyrunn Walker made a huge play for the Rams soon after and forced a fumble which was recovered by Robey-Coleman. Robey-Coleman clearly planned on making a big difference with his increased reps in Webster’s absence, nabbing his second turnover of the night.
The offensive unit took the field for the third time in the first quarter, starting off with a few solid runs by Gurley. Goff then delivered another great throw to Woods, once again getting into 49ers territory. On the following play Goff placed a perfect ball to Tyler Higbee for a potential touchdown, but he couldn’t hang on. The Rams went conservative on third and long, throwing a screen pass and coming up short.
Greg Zuerlein and the field goal unit came on for the 48 yard attempt, which was good.
The Niners took the field once again with Hyde back from injury. Lamarcus Joyner went down with an apparent hamstring injury on the first play of this drive. Joyner has been a great player for the Rams this season, operating as their free safety and slot corner. The Rams appeared to have the 49ers set to punt, but Robert Quinn lined up offsides and gave the 49ers another chance at third down. Once again the Rams paid for their mistake, a pass was completed out to midfield by Hoyer. Rams cornerback Truman Johnson made back-to-back great plays in coverage, forcing fourth down.
Tavon Austin muffed the punt, his second fumbled kick of the season. This gave the Niners new life at the Rams 12 yard line. A 49ers penalty on the first play of the drive gave the Rams a little bit of breathing room and linebacker Mark Barron made a great play on an outside run by Hyde. On third and long the 49ers went conservative and were forced to settle for a field goal, great work by the Rams defense in bad circumstances.
After a long time off the field, Goff and the offense got back on the field for their fourth drive. The Rams came out throwing on this drive and totaled a two yard loss. Hekker annihilated the ensuing punt, sending it 64 yards and doing a great job flipping the field.
The Niners had a great start to their drive, getting over midfield with a big completion on the first play. The Rams then quickly forced a third and long, but allowed a completion to Pierre Garçon for the first down. The Rams recorded their seconded sack of the drive on third and four, a big play by Matt Longacre. Robbie Gould nailed a 48 yard field goal attempt to cut the Rams lead to only four points.
The Rams took over once again after another touchback. Sammy Watkins got the Rams their first first down of the drive on his first target of the night. Watkins picked up another completion later in the drive, gaining 22 yards and taking the clock down to the two-minute warning. Todd Gurley had a few strong runs in the early-going of this drive, with multiple carries going over five yards. Cooper Kupp also made his first catch of the night, emerging from the slot and making a nice move. Woods followed that up with a great catch headed inside the five yard line, a penalty moving the ball up to the two. After many strong passing plays, the Rams went to the ground on the goal line. Gurley ran in to traffic on the edge and bounced the run, winning a race to the front corner of the end zone for his third touchdown of the first half.
The Niners took over once again after Greg Zuerlein kicked off out of bounds. The Rams defense did not allow the good field position for San Francisco to make a difference, stopping the offense until the clock expired.
The Rams received the kickoff, despite scoring just twelve seconds into the first half as well. Woods once again made an impact early in the second half, catching Goff’s first attempt of the half for nine yards. Rams center John Sullivan was injured on this drive, Austin Blythe took over for him. The Rams followed up their first first down of the half with a deep shot to Watkins. He made an incredibly catch on a well thrown ball by Goff, landing the Rams deep in 49ers territory. Goff went on to target Watkins in the end zone of third down after being flushed out of the pocket and Watkins drew a pass interference call, giving the Rams a first down on the San Francisco one yard line. A false start penalty would back the Rams up five yards. Kupp drew another red zone target, gaining three yards before being stopped. The Rams were then stopped on two rushing attempts and forced to kick the field goal, which Zuerlein converted.
The 49ers took over for their first drive of the second half, with a harsh roughing the passer penalty called on Aaron Donald on the first play. This penalty was tacked on to the end of a lengthy Pierre Garçon catch, putting the 49ers in Rams territory. This play was followed up by strong Hyde runs, letting the Niners knock on the door of the red zone. Truman Johnson made a great open-field tackle on Hyde two plays later, seemingly a strong improvement for him thus far this season. Hoyer completed a third down pass down to the Rams six yard line. The Rams stuffed Hyde on three straight runs, but the Niners lined up on fourth as well. Finally, Hyde snuck through and scored.
After a lengthy first drive for each team to start the half, the Rams took over once again with just over five minutes on the clock in the third quarter. Two Gurley touches to start off the drive resulted in six yards. A Goff strike to Watkins right out of his break on a third down out-route picked up a first down. Woods picked up another catch on the following play, gaining nine. Gurley fumbled on the following play but the Rams were able to fall on it, picking up a first down in the process. Goff found Woods again later in the drive, rolling left and throwing back to his right. Woods slipped through a series of defenders and got deep into San Francisco territory, down to the nine for a gain of 25. Rams offensive weapon Tavon Austin took the jet sweep handoff right to the front corner of the end zone, reaching out for the goal line and getting a touchdown. However, this play was reviewed and Austin was deemed down just short of the goal line. Combined with a horse collar tackle penalty on the 49ers, the ball was just a few inches short and their was an automatic first down. Gurley was stuffed on his two attempts, struggling to run up the middle behind backup center Blythe. The Rams elected to throw instead on third and goal, Watkins catching a well-thrown slant for the touchdown.
To close out the third quarter Hoyer connected with Marquise Goodwin for a 50 yard gain, putting the Niners at the Rams 25.
To kick off the fourth quarter Hyde got in to the red zone with a five yard gain. Hyde then caught the ball out of the backfield, picking up a big first down. Hoyer completed another pass facing a tough Rams pass rush, getting down to the goal line. On the ensuing snap, he completed another pass to Garrett Celek for the touchdown. The extra point was missed by Robbie Gould.
Todd Gurley got the next drive going with his longest run of the game, a 29 yard gain into San Francisco territory. Two rushes and one penalty later, the Rams faced third and long. On third and ten, Gurley notched a 26 yard reception. He made an excellent play operating as Goff’s check down and then breaking tackles in the open field. Once again, Goff looked to Watkins in the redzone. He made the catch with enough to pick up the first down, but had his eyes on his second touchdown of the night. Watkins fought through multiple 49ers and rolled across one defender for his second score of the game, once again giving the Rams a two possession lead.
The 49ers took the field once again, needing a score to keep the game close. The Niners drew a pass interference call early in the possession, picking up about ten yards and a first down. The 49ers followed this with sloppy play, dropping many catchable passes from Hoyer. The Rams defense forced a punt.
Goff and the offense took the field once again from their own 14, looking to seal the deal. Two Gurley runs left the Rams at third and nine. Goff was put under a lot of pressure on third down, doing a good job getting the ball out and avoiding the sack. The Rams were forced to punt, a great one by Johnny Hekker.
The first play of the 49ers possession went incredibly deep from Hoyer to Pierre Garçon. Cornerback Johnson tripped in coverage, but still making the tackle around the five. Two plays later, Hoyer found his wide receiver Trent Taylor in the end zone for yet another San Francisco touchdown.
The Rams fumbled on the ensuing kickoff, Pharoh Cooper getting hit and the ball flying straight up. The 49ers took over at the Rams 29 yard line. Hoyer opened the drive with a complete pass to Hyde out of the backfield for five yards. Hyde then carried the ball for a gain of about two yards. On third down Hoyer made a big throw, finding Garcon on a crossing route to the Rams 15. On the next play 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan made use of his second challenge of the night, earning the Niners a completion down to the Rams three. Hyde fell down on the following play but the Rams defense failed to capitalize, allowing Hyde to gain two yards. Safety Maurice Alexander had excellent coverage on the next play, not allowing a completion. The Rams stuffed Hyde on the following play, forcing fourth and goal on the one yard line. Hyde was able to force the ball in on the ensuing play, but the Niners still needed the two-point conversion. The Rams intercepted the Hoyer deflection on the two-point conversion, Michael Brockers coming down with the pick.
The 49ers went on recover the onside kick, giving them possession at midfield. After an incompletion on first down, Mark Barron made an excellent tackle on a second down screen pass to stop Hyde for no gain. On third down and 10, the 49ers seemed to convert. However, offensive pass interference was called forcing third and 20. Hoyer threw incomplete on third down, forcing fourth down. On fourth down Aaron Donald came up with the huge sack to clinch the win for the Rams.
The Rams took over with too much time to go into victory formation, so they looked to Gurley to seal the deal. After two attempts, the Rams faced third and 10. On third down Gurley accelerated for a 20 yard gain, clinching the win for the Rams and putting him over 100 yards rushing.
Once again, the Rams were led by an outstanding offensive performance. Gurley eclipsed 100 yards rushing and scored three times, once receiving. Watkins also had his first strong performance as a Ram, exploding for over 100 yards receiving and two scores before being evaluated for a concussion. Under new head coach and play caller Sean McVay Jared Goff looks like much more than a game manager, he is thriving. He passed for just under 300 yards and three touchdowns, going 22/28 in the process.