The San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Rams gave quite the thriller in their Thursday Night clash. Last week, the Thursday night game was an exhibition in bad football. Many thought this matchup between NFC West bottom dwellers would similarly be a comedy of errors. In the end, Sean McVay was able to win the battle of the former Washington Redskins offensive coordinators, with the Rams winning by a score of 41-39. There were many takeaways from this game, but here are three main ones.
Week Three San Francisco 49ers Takeaways
1) The Offense Finally Got Going
The 49ers first two games of the year saw little in the way of offensive production. They scored zero touchdowns, and failed to move the ball in the passing game with any conviction. That changed on Thursday. In their week three game alone, the 49ers were able to more than triple the combined score of their first two games. They also found the end zone on five occasions. What was most impressive was they put up this production against a stout Los Angeles defense.
Brian Hoyer got off to about the worst start imaginable when he threw an interception on the first play from scrimmage. After that, he was able to settle down, and gained confidence as the game went on. He finally connected on a deep pass to Marquise Goodwin, and was distributing the ball to all his receivers. His favorite target on the day was Pierre Garçon, who caught a team high seven passes. Hoyer and Garçon hooked up for a beautiful 56 yard reception that was extremely well executed on both sides. With Trent Taylor making some nice plays and catching a touchdown, it shows the 49ers wide receiver corps is deeper than it has been in recent years.
Carlos Hyde continued to look impressive. He rushed 25 times for 84 yards and two touchdowns. Both touchdowns came on fourth and goal runs up the middle where he was able to power through. He was also a factor in the passing game, catching three passes for ten yards. Hyde is definitely a powerful back, but his pass catching ability has kept him on the field for all downs.
2) The Defense Looked Shaky
While the offense looked good, the defense looked poor. This was the complete opposite of the last two weeks. Against the Seattle Seahawks, the 49ers looked really good on defense, especially the run. Against the Rams, however, was a different story. Todd Gurley had himself quite a game. He torched the 49ers defense for 113 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns. He also added another 36 yards receiving and a touchdown reception.
The 49ers could also not stop the passing attack of Jared Goff. Goff continually made good reads, and constantly hit Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins through out the night. Rashard Robinson and Dontae Johnson looked over matched. The 49ers had trouble generating pressure on Goff, and failed to record a sack. The only player who seemed to play well was nickel back K’Waun Williams. Robert Saleh will now have a long week to get his defense healthy and back on the right track.
3) The 49ers Have the Right Attitude
After Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers “mutually parted ways,” the energy has been off with the 49ers. Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly did not have a lot of success in San Francisco mainly because they failed to inspire a winning attitude. Despite three straight losses, this 49ers team has a certain swagger to it.
Trailing 15 points in the fourth quarter, the 49ers were able to rally and eventually attempt a potential game-tying two-point conversion. They failed to convert, but they didn’t put their heads down, and they were able to recover the ensuing onside kick. They fought until the last whistle, and almost pulled off a great comeback. At the very least, they were able to cover the three point spread that saw them as home underdogs.
Perhaps the best example of this new attitude was on a play that happened late in the fourth quarter. Hyde took a handoff from the three yard line, and looked as though he had a clear lane to the end zone. He slipped. But Hyde got up instantly, and was able to get back to the line of scrimmage, where he was met by multiple defenders. He continued to fight, and with one last power move before going down, he extended and took the ball to the one yard line.
The 49ers scored two plays later. There were multiple spots where Hyde could’ve gone down, but he refused. As the season goes on, there will be more games where the 49ers could go down. Hyde’s example suggest they’ll refuse too.