What a weird game. The Rams dominated from start to almost finish, leading by double digits for most of the evening. However, the 49ers were able to inexplicably put together a late charge, as Brian Hoyer caught fire against Wade Phillips' defense. San Francisco would've tied the game had Robbie Gould not whiffed on an extra point. In the end, the Rams prevailed, 41-39, in what turned out to be the highest-scoring game in Thursday Night Football history.
It began very poorly for Hoyer, who was picked off on his very first pass. The Rams corner jumped the route, and Todd Gurley scored a touchdown on the very next play. Just like that, the Rams were up by seven with 12 seconds later. The 49ers continued to struggle throughout the opening half, scoring their only touchdown as a result of the Rams being offside on a punt that gave the 49ers a first down.
The primary problem for San Francisco was that it made lots of mistakes prior to intermission. A holding penalty negated a Jared Goff sack, setting up another Gurley touchdown. Third-string running back Raheem Mostert fumbled, which allowed the Rams to kick a field goal. Hoyer missed an open Pierre Garcon. George Kittle dropped a pass. It was a comedy of errors for the 49ers, who were playing in front of lots of empty seats in Santa Clara.
The 49ers stopped committing unforced mistakes in the second half, perhaps because the Rams were so exhausted defensively. The injuries didn't help either. They lost star safety Lamarcus Joyner to a hamstring, and Michael Brockers and Robert Quinn had to leave the game with injuries at some point. San Francisco, a team that hadn't scored a single touchdown entering this contest, transformed into an offensive machine, as both Garcon and Marquise Goodwin made circus catches along the sidelines to help Hoyer, who was gaining more confidence with every throw. A Pharoh Cooper fumbled kickoff return helped, setting up the 49ers with the opportunity to tie the game, deep in Rams territory. They managed to score on fourth down with a tough Carlos Hyde run, but missed on the two-point conversion, as the receiver Hoyer threw to ran a bad route.
The 49ers still had a chance after that because they recovered an onside kick. However, Aaron Donald closed out the game, sacking Hoyer on fourth down.
Gurley was an absolute monster for the Rams. He rushed for 113 yards on 28 carries, and he was once again a big-time factor in the passing game, catching five of his seven targets for 36 receiving yards. He scored thrice, but would've had five touchdowns had he not been stuffed on the goal line on two separate drives. A major reason for this was center John Sullivan getting knocked out with an injury. Backup Austin Blythe couldn't get as much of a push. It'll be important for the Rams to have Sullivan in next week's game against the Cowboys.
Goff continued to improve, as he misfired on just six occasions. Granted, this was against San Francisco's inept defense, but he looked so much better than last year, going 22-of-28 for 292 yards and three touchdowns. Goff still holds on to the ball too long, and as Cris Collinsworth mentioned, he drifts back in the pocket too often. That said, he works hard, so he should be able to improve in these facets. Until he does, however, he'll be in trouble when battling tough defenses. The 49ers simply couldn't get to the quarterback very often, but some other teams - like the Redskins last week - will be able to.
Two of Goff's touchdowns went to Sammy Watkins (6-106), who finally had a big game. He and Robert Woods (6-108) weren't met with much resistance, as safety Eric Reid was inactive. The only Ram who disappointed was Cooper Kupp, who snatched just two balls for 17 yards.
Going back to the 49ers, Hoyer shook off his initial pick to have a solid outing otherwise. He went 23-of-37 for 322 yards and two touchdowns. As a reminder, the Rams lost a couple of star players, but Hoyer did a good job of bouncing back from a horrible throw to start the game. He could've melted down quite easily, but didn't.
Hoyer was locked in on Garcon, which wasn't surprising at all. Garcon snared seven of his 10 targets for 142 yards. Goodwin (2-62) hauled in a 50-yard grab, while fifth-round rookie Trent Taylor (3-32) secured a touchdown after suffering what appeared to be a possible concussion.
Hyde found the end zone twice, gaining 84 yards on 25 tries. For a while, it looked like Hyde fantasy owners were going to be extremely upset, as their running back was barely on the field in the first quarter because of some sort of injury. However, Hyde was able to return, and he had some impressive short-yardage runs on fourth down to score both of his touchdowns.
Ravens XX, Jaguars XX
Patriots XX, Texans XX
Dolphins XX, Jets XX
Eagles XX, Giants XX
Browns XX, Colts XX
Vikings XX, Buccaneers XX
Falcons XX, Lions XX
Panthers XX, Saints XX
Broncos XX, Bills XX
Steelers XX, Bears XX
Titans XX, Seahawks XX
Chiefs XX, Chargers XX
Packers XX, Bengals XX
Raiders XX, Redskins XX
Cowboys XX, Cardinals XX
For more thoughts, check out my updated NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.