49ers: Everything But The Win Vs. Rams
(originally written 9/28/17)
Throughout my first 20 years on earth, I got exactly no attention from females, at least in the romantic sense. I did have my share of girl friends, but was about as close to having a steady girlfriend as I was to having my own robot butler.
Being overweight, socially awkward and unrich will do that to a guy.
Then all at once, beginning in the summer of 2000, I went on a run of attracting one female after the other without even really trying. One gal even proposed a threesome—I turned her down because she was 17; 22-year-old Skillz had a thing against prison at the time.
This went on for two (fun) years until I settled down with one gal for the long-term. It made no sense. Nothing had really changed about me. Well, I did have a new car...but it was a frikkin' Dodge Neon.
What the hell does this have to do with the 49ers, you're probably asking.
The 49ers offense is my early love life. Float along, blow opportunity after opportunity to score, look way out of your league, show no signs of ever getting better. Then, with no significant fundamental changes, suddenly find your niche, grow confidence that did not previously exist—and score repeatedly, making it look almost easy.
San Francisco went from zero touchdowns in eight quarters to five TD's in four quarters, falling to the Rams 41-39 on Thursday Night Football. They made Los Angeles (I really almost typed St. Louis) pay for turnovers, they smashed the ball in from the goal line, they threw the ball deep...and caught it, and perhaps most importantly—the line gave good holes to Carlos Hyde and, for the most part, fairly decent time for QB Brian Hoyer.
SHOWING OFF 'DEM SKILLZ
There's multiple reasons why us mortals are grossly physically inferior to NFL wide receivers. They run, jump and change direction better than we could ever dream. And the toughness...we'd need an ambulance taking just one hit like they take multiple times a week (remember the hit SF DB Jimmie Ward laid on a barely-fazed Robert Woods near the end of the first half? That same hit would dislodge our very souls.)
But of all their superior skillz, I deem none more amazing than their sideline-toe-dragging ability—WR Pierre Garcon's 3Q grab was, IMHO, the catch of the night, even if it hadn't been correctly ruled a catch on replay review.
GOOD JOB, LINE...
Often running for his life in Weeks 1 and 2, Hoyer's protection noticeably improved, ranging from adequate to good throughout the night. He was sacked four times, but no fewer than two of those were the result of tough Rams coverage. SF did a good job countering the Rams' many blitzes, with either the backs picking them up effectively, or Hoyer unloading prior to contact.
...WELL, EXCEPT THIS
G Laken Tomlinson's 2Q two-play sequence is not one he'll show his grandkids. Right after a big 49ers gain, he committed a false start...then on the very next play confusedly allowed Morgan Fox to blow right past him for a sack. Early in Q3, on the Garcon toe play, Aaron Donald abused Tomlinson and delivered a booming hit on Hoyer—but that ended up benefiting SF, since the hit was ruled unnecessarily rough.
In Weeks 1 and 2, the Niners hadn't completed a pass play of longer than 26 (thanks in part to WR dropsies).
The Rams D had just held Kirk Cousins to under 200 yards in Week 2—although that was largely due to Washington's ground attack piling up well over 200 yards.
My point: the stars were not aligned for San Francisco to successfully attack with the deep ball. But that's exactly what we saw: Hoyer stepping up and threading the needle beautifully to Kyle Juszczyk midway through Q2 for 34 yards, and later confidently launching bombs to Marquise Goodwin (50 yards) and Garcon (59 yards)—both on first down, both setting up eventual TD's.
JEFF THE REF
The microphone of referee Jeff Triplette was inoperative twice in the first half...yet, despite having to know this, he continued announcing both penalties as if nothing was wrong. The broadcast team essentially ignored it as well (perhaps they feared jinxing their own equipment?)
Later, Triplette—microphone repaired—announced a false start as follows: "False start...everyone moved except the center...five-yard penalty." You ain't slick, Jeff; we all saw you holdin' back that laugh.
RB Carlos Hyde's tough 4th-down TD run in the 3Q came with a price—Juszczyk suffered a neck injury and concussion delivering a crucial block on the play. Hyde himself was a little gimpy in the first quarter and briefly left, but returned, finishing with 84 yards rushing and two TDs.
DT Tank Carradine's ankle was rolled on late. DB Jaquiski Tartt—who merits props for stopping Todd Gurley's would-be TD run in the 3Q—was later kneed in the head by teammate Earl Mitchell during a wild Rams 25-yard pass play to Woods, suffering a concussion. LB/ST Brock Coyle was also concussed.
95.7 The Game (San Francisco) host Damon Bruce called the game possibly the best one ever played at Levi's Stadium. He wasn't wrong—the 49ers forced timely turnovers, capitalized on 3rd and 4th down, got the whole offense involved, and fought to the very end.
Problem is, they themselves turned the ball over twice and continue to be plagued by brutal drops. If...
Los Angeles wasn't spotted seven points to open the game
San Francisco catches every catchable ball
LB NaVorro Bowman could have brought down Gurley during what ended up being a 27-yard gain instead of the 11 it should have been, and
this game took place on Sunday instead of Thursday (allowing the obviously-worn defense extra rest), the 49ers would not still be winless.
San Francisco may have lost the game, but at least we the fans gained a little optimism.