The 49ers couldn’t have scripted a better opening drive. They ran it early and often, got the ball into their playmakers’ hands, and let them do the work. Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, and Raheem Mostert all played a part as the Niners used screens and jet sweeps to march down the field for an opening touchdown. That gave the 49ers a 7-0 lead. The defense was lucky to have a Jared Goff miss, but that’s football, as they forced the Rams to punt on an opening drive for the first time all season.
A costly miss by Jimmy Garoppolo to George Kittle on second down put the offense behind the sticks on the second drive, which forced a Niners punt. Goff was off to a miserable start as he went 1-for-6 for 17 yards. The 49ers weren’t getting a ton of pressure, but the coverage was great early on in the game outside of one play. The Rams punted on their first two drives.
After one quarter, the 49ers averaged seven yards per play compared to the Rams 2.6. San Francisco also controlled the ball for 12:11 minutes during the quarter. The Rams couldn’t score if they didn’t have the ball.
The offensive script for the 49ers was beautiful. They had the Rams guessing. There was a bizarre moment at the end of the first quarter where Jerick McKinnon had a run, went to the ground, then gave himself up. The refs ruled it a fumble. After the play was reviewed, the 49ers got the ball back, but it felt like their mojo was messed up. The offense had a 3rd & 5 but came up short. Thankfully, the 49ers went for it on 4th & short. Garoppolo did a great job of hanging in there under pressure, knowing he was going to get hit, and delivered a strike to George Kittle for a 44-yard touchdown. That gave the Niners a 14-0 lead.
The Niners had an opportunity to get off the field on third down, but Goff scrambled for a first down. The Rams extended the drive and ended up scoring on a great throw from Goff to Robert Woods. Jaquiski Tartt was in perfect position; it was just better offense. Dion Jordan blocked the extra point, and that made it 14-6, 49ers.
The offense kept the ball rolling on the next drive, thanks to 19 and 25-yard gains from Kendrick Bourne. Trent Taylor picked up a key third down to put the 49ers in the red zone. The 49ers punched it in thanks to a two-yard toss from Jimmy to Brandon Aiyuk. The drive took over seven minutes off the clock and left the Rams with little time to score.
The score was 21-6 at the half. The 49ers had triple the first downs as the Rams, outgained them by over two yards per play, and had the ball 21 minutes compared to eight for the Rams. It was a dominant half of football. The 49ers looked like a desperate team that was tired of being pushed around. They controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. At halftime, the 49ers had more yards after the catch (181) than the Rams had total yards (102).
The Rams drove the field to start the second half but were forced to settle for a field goal to make the score 21-9. The 49ers bent but didn’t break. The pass rush didn’t show up for most of the drive but found a way to get pressure up the middle on Goff on third down.
With just over ten minutes to go in the third quarter, Mostert left with an ankle injury. That was going to be a significant blow, no matter the result of the game. Mostert had 65 yards on 17 carries but was running as a man possessed. The offense had two three-and-outs in a row following Mostert’s injury.
Jaquiski Tartt did not see the field on the Rams’ next possession, thanks to a groin injury. The defense missed him, as Marcell Harris had a couple of poor run fits and missed a tackle. Los Angeles went right at Harris and quickly drove the field. Jason Verrett saved the day with an impressive interception to bail the defense out.
With Mostert out, JaMycal Hasty saw his first action. He took his first carry for nine yards. Hasty moves at a different speed. He looked impressive on the drive. Because we can’t have nice things, Trent Williams left the game with a head injury and was listed as questionable to return. Justin Skule filled in for Williams for the series, but Williams returned on the ensuing drive.
Verrett and Emmanuel Moseley made two great plays on the next drive to get the defense off the field. On the following possession, Garoppolo had Kyle Juszczyk wide open down the sideline but missed him. That proved costly, and the 49ers had to settle for a field goal. A 49-yarder from Robbie Gould made it 24-9.
The Rams scored on a 10-play, 79-yard drive that only took two minutes off the clock. Goff threw up a prayer, and Moseley didn’t get turned around, nor did he find the ball. That made it 24-16 with just over three minutes to play.
The 49ers needed two first downs to win the game. Hasty took care of one of those on his first carry. He’s a fun player. His cuts are sharp, and he adds a level of speed that McKinnon no longer has after his injuries. The coaching staff rolling with Hasty to ice the game over Jet tells you all you need to know about how much confidence they have in him.
The offense struggled in the second half but made plays when they needed to. An outstanding effort by the defense saved this game. Who gets your game ball?