The San Francisco 49ers (5-0) continued their unbeaten start to the season on Sunday with a comfortable victory over the slumping Los Angeles Rams (3-3) by a score of 20-7.
The 49ers were supposed to face the biggest test of their season on Sunday, with a tough road matchup the Los Angeles Rams. They were coming off a short week and had several key injuries on both sides of the ball. Their opponents and back-to-back NFC West champions, the Rams, had a 10-day rest period in which to regroup after losing consecutive games.
So, it wasn’t a great surprise when the Rams ran the ball on their first seven consecutive plays, quickly ploughing through the 49ers defense for 65 yards and a touchdown. It was an opening drive that suggested the 49ers defense was in for a long, hard afternoon. However, San Francisco’s offense gave its defense some much-needed rest and support on the following drive. They put together a 10-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a two-yard rushing touchdown from running back Tevin Coleman. That drive lasted almost six minutes. That’s about the only offense that came out of the first half. Those two drives were followed with: punt, interception, punt, punt, turnover on downs, missed field goal.
Neither team’s offense appeared to want to take control. San Francisco had a great opportunity to take the lead with a 1st and goal at the Rams six-yard line, but their possession ended with disappointment. Jimmy Garoppolo’s dreadful pass attempt to Dante Pettis was easily intercepted and the opportunity was gone. Meanwhile, the Rams had a great chance of their own. At 2nd and goal from the Niners’ 5-yard line, they ran the ball three times in a row and turned it over on downs. The score remained 7-7 at halftime.
The second half started perfectly for San Francisco. On the first play, the Rams pitched the ball to rookie running back Darrell Henderson, who fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Arik Armstead at the Rams 17-yard line. Four plays later, Garoppolo gave the 49ers their first lead of the game on a one-yard quarterback sneak. While the Rams continued to struggle on offense, the Niners followed their touchdown with two field goals on their next two offensive possessions and went on to take a 20-7 lead that was enough to see out the game.
If the scoreline was hidden, you’d be excused for thinking that San Francisco was up by four or five possessions. Minus their opening drive, Los Angeles was flat out woeful. Their quarterback, Jared Goff, had just 13 completions for a record-low of 78 passing yards and his longest throw of the day was a measly 12 yards (in garbage time). Goff currently has 13 fumbles and 13 interceptions in his last 12 games.
The game was also won and lost on third down, and Jared Goff’s ability to move the chains was alarmingly bad. The Rams went 0-9 on third-down conversions and 0-4 on fourth downs. Meanwhile, San Francisco went 8-17 on third down and 1-1 on fourth downs.
Just keep winning
Jimmy Garoppolo’s start to the season has raised questions over his ability to perform at an elite level. Through six games, he has averaged 234.6 passing yards and sits on seven touchdowns and five interceptions. Those statistics don’t set the world on fire. Yet, football isn’t just about statistics. Jimmy G’s record as a starter moved to 13-2 this week and he is only the eighth quarterback in the Super Bowl that can claim that feat. His ability to effectively manage the game is a big reason why the 49ers are sitting at 5-0 for the first time since 1990.
The 49ers face a long cross-country trip to face the Washington Redskins, who just picked up their first win of the season (1-5). Meanwhile, Los Angeles also head east to take on the Atlanta Falcons (1-5).
Featured Picture – Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images/AFP