Well, that was surprising. Not the victory so much as the magnitude of it.
Chip Kelly and Blaine Gabbert, two NFL entities pretty much consigned to the scrap heap by league “experts” and “insiders,” stuck the old thumb in the eye to these know-it-alls. At least for one game.
The score indicates a total rout, but credit also has to be paid to the Rams offense, which was entirely MIA during the game, a well-oiled three-and-out machine. The 49er defense had something to do with that, stuffing RB Todd Gurley the entire game — a feat not many could foresee — but Rams’ QB Case Keenum was extremely helpful, too, making a strong case for “why is this turkey still in the league” honors.
The Rams’ supposedly dominant defense did not answer the call of duty until the third quarter, when it stuffed the 49ers. The Rams’ offense refused to contribute, though, and when the fourth quarter started with three big plays by Jeremy Kerley, Quinton Patton, and Vance McDonald which resulted in a TD and a 21-0 lead, this game was over and the Rams defense knew it.
Kerley, a recent acquisition from the Detroit left overs, was the star of the evening for the Niners with 7 catches for 61 yards. Carlos Hyde contributed 88 yards on the ground, making the offense a well-rounded effort.
This was the sixth straight season opening victory for the 49ers. Three of those were followed by a lot more victories and three of them were followed by a lot of defeats. So it’s probably premature to haul out the Super Bowl or Bust bandwagon.
The Rams, like Minnesota last year, did not look like a team prepared for action. Even worse, they did not look like a team ready to bust out of their self-described “7-9 bullshit.” Next week, they play Seattle at home, and another NFC West defeat could sink the Rams before they even get number one draft pick Jared Goff suited up on game day.
Next week, the Niners travel to North Carolina for a game against last year’s NFC best team the Panthers, led by QB Cam Newton, who is not in the same stratosphere as the Rams’ Keenum. Should the 49ers be competitive in this game, the year might not be quite so long and painful as it was expected to be. Should they actually win that game, the Bay Area would experience a “Whoa, Nelly!” moment.
OTOH, a loss similar to last year’s rout by the Steelers would empty out the prime seats at Levi’s stadium as quick as a Chip Kelly offense.