The San Francisco 49ers may have looked good Sunday, unveiling their slick 1994 throwback uniforms, but the product on the field was about as ugly as it gets in their 39-10 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
Here’s five takeaways from the 49ers’ embarrassing loss at Levi’s Stadium:
Death by differential
The 49ers had four turnovers against the Rams but forced none of their own. C.J. Beathard and running back Matt Breida both fumbled, while Beathard added two interceptions.
“It’s inexcusable,” Kyle Shanahan said after the game. “It’s impossible to win in this league when you turn the ball over like we are and you when don’t get any.”
Safety Jaquiski Tartt was gifted an interception of his own by Rams quarterback Jared Goff in the first quarter that may have gone for six, but he couldn’t make the catch. Neither the offense or defense is holding up to their side of the turnover bargain.
George Kittle is elite
The 49ers’ fifth-round tight end continues to prove that he’s among the best in the NFL. George Kittle was far-and-away Shanahan’s top weapon Sunday against the Rams and has been throughout the season. The 49ers’ only trip to end zone all afternoon was a 75-yard drive in which Kittle accounted for three catches, 68 yards and the touchdown. He added another two catches and 30 yards on the afternoon, and the highlight of the day involved him essentially carrying a Rams defender downfield before colliding with another.
“If you don’t play angry then you’re not playing,” Kittle said post-game. “If a guy is going to not throw his body at me and he’s just going to sit there with his chest open, I’m going to put my helmet through his chest. That’s his fault if he’s sore in the morning.”
Injuries again take their toll
Breida and free safety Adrian Colbert were the two most significant injuries against the Rams. Breida only carried the ball five times, re-aggravating his ankle injury on one carry and fumbling the next. Colbert was injured when he collided with cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon while attempting to break up a deep pass from Rams quarterback Jared Goff to receiver Brandin Cooks. Colbert was carted off the field but returned to the 49ers’ sideline with a noticeable limp that Shanahan described as a sprained ankle. Linebacker Reuben Foster (shoulder) and safety Jaquiski Tartt (stinger) both left the game in the fourth quarter.
Low point for C.J. Beathard
Beathard completed 15 of 27 passes for 170 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions and a fumble. The 49ers’ starting quarterback has been on a roller coaster as of late, with admirable performances against the Chargers and Packers, which were followed by poor showings against the Cardinals and Rams, respectively
“It’s not just C.J., it’s everyone,” Shanahan said. “The quarterback - when the ball leaves his hands - he’s going to get credit for that turnover, but by no means is it 100% on C.J.”
Shanahan scoffed post-game at the thought of benching Beathard in favor of backup Nick Mullens, meaning the 49ers will need to find a way to get it done with the second-year backup-turned-starter.
Aaron Donald dominates
The 49ers’ offensive line had their worst game of the season thanks in large part to Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald. The star defender put on a clinic to the tune of nine tackles, four tackles for loss, five quarterback hits, six tackles for loss, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
“I don’t think there’s anyone that’s ever been like him in the NFL,” Joe Staley said of Donald. “He’s in a class of his own.”
As a unit, the 49ers’ offensive line surrendered eight sacks, 12 quarterback hits and 13 tackles against the Rams’ defense.