SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Carlos Hyde outran the more heralded Todd Gurley, San Francisco’s defensive front proved more fearsome than Los Angeles’ line and the resumption of the all-California NFC West rivalry after a more than 21-year wait proved to be decidedly one-sided.
Hyde ran for 88 yards and two scores and the 49ers defense did the rest, shutting down Gurley and the Rams running game in a 28-0 victory that spoiled the first NFL game for a Los Angeles-based team since 1994.
“That wasn’t what we expected, certainly not what I expected for the first game back in L.A.,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “We have some work to do obviously.”
Shaun Draughn also ran for a score and Blaine Gabbert threw a touchdown pass to Vance McDonald to help the 49ers win their first game under coach Chip Kelly in convincing fashion.
Case Keenum threw for just 130 yards with two interceptions, Gurley was held to 47 yards on 17 carries and the Rams barely even threatened the Niners as they were held to 185 yards and 10 first downs all game.
“The defense had to carry the weight this week, and I think we did that,” said linebacker NaVorro Bowman, who had an interception. “Todd Gurley is looked at as one of the best running backs in the league, and we took that personally tonight.”
Here are some other takeaways from the game:
GOFF WAITS: Despite the struggles by Keenum, who was frequently off-target and struggled to get the ball down field at all, Fisher is not ready to turn the offense over to No. 1 overall draft pick Jared Goff. The Rams traded a boat load of draft picks to acquire Goff in the spring but made him inactive as the third-stringer in the opener .
“This doesn’t change anything as far as the quarterbacks are concerned,” Fisher said.
EFFICIENT GABBERT: Kelly picked Gabbert as his starting quarterback over Colin Kaepernick in part because of his consistency through the offseason. That’s basically how Gabbert played in the opener, avoiding the big mistakes with no turnovers or sacks but making few big plays with only one completion that went for more than 20 yards. Gabbert finished 22 for 35 for 170 yards and the TD.
“He was very efficient with the ball,” Kelly said. “He did not turn the ball over and did not put the ball in harm’s way. He did some good things in critical situations and got a lot of different guys involved in the passing game.”
LOST COMPOSURE: Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald was ejected in the fourth quarter when he made contact with an official. The infraction came after Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree gave an extra push to Gabbert following a scramble. As players on both teams started jawing, Donald pushed a 49ers player and then made contact with an official. Donald was called for two personal fouls on the play and ejected.
“I let my emotions get the best of me,” Donald said. “No excuses.”
SMALL-PLAY AUSTIN: The Rams gave receiver Tavon Austin a contract extension worth a reported $42 million this summer because of his ability to make big plays. Those were lacking against the Niners. Austin touched the ball five times on offense for just 15 yards. He caught four of the 12 passes thrown his way for 13 yards and added 2 more on an end-around. His biggest play of the night was a 28-yard punt return .
“We have to stretch the field,” he said. “We need to keep doing what we were doing. We were open a lot out there today. We just couldn’t connect. That’s the main thing. We’ll connect on it.”
PUNT PARTY: For much of the game, the punters had as much impact as any other players. Los Angeles’ Johnny Hekker and San Francisco’s Bradley Pinion combined for 17 punts, including seven in an offensively inept third quarter that featured 48 yards, three first downs and one turnover.
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