Culver City Observer -

Rams Humiliated In Opening Game Defeat

 

September 15, 2016

Fred Altieri

Football field-sized U.S. flag graces Levi's Stadium during national anthem before Rams / 49ers game

You wouldn't wish a game like this on your worst enemy... unless of course you're the San Francisco 49ers and you've just humiliated the new Los Angeles Rams 28-0.

It happened in the 49ers' home-opener at Levi's Stadium during the second featured match of Monday Night Football.

The Rams looked like a team that never made it out of the locker room except during the pregame warmups to check out the windier and cooler conditions. Their virtual absence also helped the 49ers look like a legitimate team by game's end.

The 28-point margin of victory was the greatest by any team in Week 1 of the 2016 NFL regular season.

"Well that wasn't what we expected," began Los Angeles Head Coach Jeff Fisher's postgame press conference, "... It's certainly not what I expected of our first game back in L.A. We've got some work to do, obviously. Very disappointed in the outcome. I thought the 49ers did a nice job in all three phases.

"I'm obviously disappointed in the lack of offensive production. The third down efficiency, scoring and the run game was not there tonight... I was a little disappointed in the defense early but the defense, we made adjustments at halftime, settled down, got numerous back-to-back three-and-outs and gave us an opportunity to give us drive starts offensively."

The Rams couldn't have asked for a worse start in relocating back to Southern California after a 21-year visit in St. Louis. They were outmatched in every phase of a game that threatened to push the entertainment value to a new low. Only starting 49er quarterback Blaine Gabbert's seemingly out of necessity out-of-the-pocket dashes kept the less than capacity crowd alive.

Fisher's most telling remark following the shutout highlights the team's quarterback situation: "We couldn't get it going. And we can't get the run game going when nothing else follows after that so that was a concern."

San Francisco simply keyed on stopping L.A. star running back Todd Gurley and dared starting Ram quarterback Case Keenum to beat them with his arm. It was no contest as Keenum may have had the worst game of his career.

His postgame comments reiterated the inauspicious start: "I'll have to look at it drive by drive but it's the little things... Obviously third downs... I haven't seen the stats or anything but we've got to stay on the field. Whatever it is that's causing it we're going to have to go look at the film... It was a tough night."

The 49ers made it 7-0 on a 10-play 52-yard drive culminating in third year running back Carlos Hyde running up the middle for an 11-yard touchdown at 3:30 of the first quarter. They added another touchdown at 8:21 of the second quarter when fifth-year running back Shaun Draughn scored from three yards out. The 14-0 halftime lead was good enough.

San Francisco added two more touchdowns in the second half. Trailing 21-0, the Rams' frustration reached a boiling point when defensive tackle Aaron Donald got ejected late in the game for making contact with a referee after he had been called for a personal foul on 49er receiver Quinton Patton.

It also highlights L.A.'s game numbers: 10 penalties for 100 yards vs. two penalties for 10 yards against the 49ers. Team offensive stats: only 10 first downs completed! three of 15 in third down efficiency! an astonishingly low 185 total net yards. 65 total yards rushing! And so on...

Keenum's numbers were worse: 17 of 35 in completions for 130 yards and two interceptions. The Rams' offensive drive chart read complete failure:10 punts, two interceptions, one turnover-on-downs and one end-of-game. It was a slow painful death as San Francisco's Hyde scored again, a one-yard plunge with five and change remaining on the game clock.

Fisher addressed the media on Tuesday, September 13: ""As far as the game is concerned, you don't win games converting three-of-15 on third down. You don't win games with 10 penalties, seven on defense, not rushing the football, not scoring points, giving up too many big plays."

"There were some really good things in the game, great, tremendous efforts, tremendous plays, in all three phases. Let me remind you, this is not a preseason game. This is a regular season game, and we didn't do enough to win the game.

There was one silver lining according to Fisher: "So, you learn from it and you move on. From an injury standpoint, we came through it healthy, which is encouraging. Everybody is in good shape."

The Rams are now preparing for Sunday's home game in the Los Angeles Coliseum on September 18 against another division foe: the Seattle Seahawks who are 1-0 following their 12-10 opening season win over the Miami Dolphins.

This will be the first home game the Rams have played in Los Angeles since 1979. The team played in Anaheim Stadium from 1980-94 before moving to St. Louis.

"I would like to think that we would have a significant home-field advantage there. From a personal standpoint, I'm excited... this is our home opener here," said Fisher about the upcoming Seattle game.

"... We're just going to prepare. We're familiar with them, they're familiar with us; we respect them, they respect us. I love watching them play... because they play hard. Pete does a great job and fortunately we've had some success against them.

Fred Altieri

L.A. running back Todd Gurley (30) and cornerback Trumaine Johnson (22)

"It's a good group, they're disappointed, they're disappointed in each other but they're together. The defense understands that they're going to need the offense and the offense understands that they're going to need the defense and special teams will balance it out. They're together right now and they're ready to compete this week and get ready."

Make no mistake about it as far as first impressions go, this home opener will be the most important game the Rams will have until they finally move into their brand new complex in Inglewood in 2019.

Their disastrous season opener has further ramped up expectations for an all-out worthy Coliseum debut.

Regardless, the sense is that the growing legends of Los Angeles Rams fans are going to have to be patient with the development of their team regardless of national and local sports media outlets suggesting immediate gratification over diligence as the path to success.

 

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