TNF: It’s Alive!
Rams @ 49ERS: 39-41
Picture Kyle Shanahan in a long white lab coat, hair manically brushed around his head set, a back-drop of thunder and lightning, rain pouring down onto a stone slab. Laying there in front of this youthful head-coach/zany professor, the unmistakeably signs of life begin to flicker upon the face of an offense that for two weeks had barely managed a breath. The impossible task of creating life where previously there was none has been accomplished. The homunculus of an attack that could put up points was ready to be unfurled and put into action against one of the best defences in the country. Sean McVay had already shown that he could play God with a team previously thought to be dead and buried, now both young coaches have ignited the spark of life for teams that were very much in need of C.P.R.
Thursday Night Football needed this game to be entertaining as much as anyone, and boy did it deliver. We saw 80points, an interception inside 10 seconds, a muffed punt, a kick-off fumble, 3 100+ yard receivers, 2 TDs scored on fourth down, an onside kick bouncing off of a helmet and being recovered a missed X.P. and a failed game-tying 2pt conversion. That is a LOT of action. The 49ers came into the game having score 0TDs and totalling 15points over 2 games to date. In that time frame, lead receiver Pierre Garcon had 107 yards from his 9 receptions, lead running back Carlos Hyde had 169 yards on 24 attempts and Brian Hoyer had struggled at QB with less than 3oo yards and two INTs to his name. Everyone knew it would take time for the offense to “click” but the fans and the sports world in general were beginning to grow restless. Then on Thursday 21st September 2017 it all seemed to fdall into place. Garcon collected 142 yards, Hyde rushed for 84yards and 2 TDs and Hoyer shock off an early (very, very early…as in first pass of the game early) interception to put up 332 yards, 2TDs thrown and a rushing TD of his own. All of this against Wade Phillips and the awesome Rams D which had conceded just 36 points so far. As the game wound down to a close I found myself actively cheering for Hoyer to complete the 2point conversion that would have taken us into overtime. Who usually wants overtime on a Thursday night?!
Now, we all know that the 9ers 2 point attempt was crushed beneath the charging weight of Aaron Donald who punched through the O-Line and ploughed Hoyer into the floor. It was the 4th sack of the night for a hugely impressive D-Line that nearly lost the game because Shanahans offense picked the Rams secondary apart, they were guilty of conceding receptions of 59 and 50 yards to Garcon and Goodwin respectively. Hoyer, for his part, didn’t allow the 1st play interception to knock his confidence, instead he stepped up to the plate and delivered the ball effectively to a wide range of receivers (9). Yes, the offense got a helping hand from some sloppy Rams play, such as Tavon Austin muffing a punt that was recovered by Long snapper Jacob Macquaide within sight of the endzone, but they earned that luck with good, decisive, attacking play.
Lets give the Rams some credit here, it takes two to create a great game and Sean McVay has certainly turned this team into a contender for comeback team of the year (that should be an award, right?) already. Jared Goff looked unflappable against a decent defense as he worked through his reads calmly and cut down on the extra back-peddling that had been highlighted in previous games. Sammy Watkins was involved in the attack from first to last (6rec for 106 yards and 2TDs) and Todd Gurley was the recipient of a receiving TD for the first time since 2015. The L.A team proved that even when their defense is less than stellar they have a QB who can orchestrate an offense that is more than capable of beating the opposition through the air and on the ground (Gurley 118 yards 2TDs on 28 attempts). The Rams move to 2-1 having scored the most points through 3 games since the 2000 greatest show on turf boys. Its also the first time they’ve put up 40pts in 2 games since 2006.
The 49ers will feel this is an opportunity lost, but at least they were competitive throughout. Surely a little belief must be beginning to creep in to the fans now that they’ve seen what Shanahan and his squad can deliver. If both sides of the ball continue to develop as they have so far then the future looks healthy indeed. Just pray that the heart of the offense doesn’t need kick-starting every week.