Thursday night’s 41-39 Niner loss was entertaining, fun, and frustrating.
I must say that this was by far the most entertaining game played at Levi Stadium since the Niners moved there. I found myself jumping out of my seat and throwing fist pumps on many occasions.
Such a change of pace from the bland brand of football that we have been suffering through for the last three years. There is still a lot of re-building to be done, but as long as the ShanaLynch team can make the games exciting, it’ll be a fun process.
The first thing to mention is that I was very impressed with the LA Rams. Sean McVay, the youngest coach in the NFL at age 31 and his coaches and their front office has done a remarkable job in their re-building process. They have surrounded QB Jared Goff with a quality offensive line and secured great WR’s in Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Tavon Austin, and Sammy Watkins who had a monster game last night. Along with Todd Gurley, who is no longer “girly”, they have a fairly potent offense for years to come.
Regarding the Niners offense, one can easily make a case that the game was lost on the very first play of the game when Brian Hoyer threw a horrendous interception giving the Rams a quick and easy 7 points. Since the Niners lost by only 2 points, one can deduce that that one play was the difference. However, there were so many ebbs and flows in regards to turnovers, key 3rd down conversions and misses, and horrible referee calls, that one play was only one of many game changers.
Game changing plays:
- The Hoyer interception on the first play of the game.
- The bad pass interference call on Dontae Johnson on the Rams first drive on 3rd down when Goff was sacked. Instead of the Niners getting the ball back, the Rams got a first down that lead to another touchdown.
- The pass interference that was not called on the Garrett Celek on a 3rd down play in the end zone where the Rams defensive back had an arm bar on Celek’s left arm for a good 10 yards as Celek was running directly at the referee. I don’t know what the referee was looking at. Ultimately, the Niners did score on a 4th down play but it never should have gotten to 4th
- The Rams 3rd down and 12 yards to go play in the late 3rd quarter where linebackers Ray Ray Armstrong and Novarro Bowman chased covered receivers toward separate sidelines and left the middle wide open for a big 1st down gain for Gurley. I know it’s blasphemous to say, but Novarro showed both his age and the slowdown in his speed from his knee and achilles injuries.
- Lastly, the phantom offensive pass interference penalty on Trent Taylor on a 3rd down play after the Niners recovered an on-side kick-off and started a potentially game winning drive. Instead of a 1st down at the Ram’s 40 yard line with 2 minutes go to in the game and down by only 2 points, the Niners were faced with a 3rd and 20 on their 40 yard line. The way that the Niners offense was moving the ball, they had a great chance to get another 1st down putting themselves in great position for a game winning field goal. This was the biggest game changer.
- Although not game changers, the Niners had to challenge two great completed sideline catches by Pierre Garcon and Marquis Goodwin. The Niners won both challenges but the mere fact that the referees initially called the catches incomplete gives you an idea of how atrocious the officiating was in this game.
There were some great “You Got Moss’ed” catches in this game:
- Pierre Garcon’s great sideline catch where the ball was thrown a good three yards out of bounds but he stretched full length to grab the ball while acrobatically keeping both feet in-bounds.
- Garcon’s wonderful 50 yard catch down the right sidelines fully stretched over pro-bowl corner back, Trumaine Johnson.
- Marquis Goodwin’s sideline catch on the Rams’ 3 yrd line which was a mirror image of Garcon’s sideline catch mentioned above.
- Sammy Watkins’ amazing catch of a downfield bomb thrown by Goff.
To be sure, the Niners are further behind the Rams in their re-building processes. Next year, the Niners must address the QB position foremost followed by the interior offensive line. For the O-line, they should look at proven free agents as O-linemen in the draft are a crap-shoot. For the QB, if there is any chance for the Niners to draft Sam Darnold (USC) or Josh Rosen (UCLA), they should do whatever they can to get one of them. QB draft picks are also crap-shoots but these two seem to be the real deal even though they do have flaws. In addition to drafting a QB, if there is a chance that the KC Chiefs move on to Patrick Mahomes and make Alex Smith available, they must get him. On the defensive side, even with Reuben Foster coming back in a few weeks, the next biggest priority is re-building the line backing core and getting an impact edge rusher. By plugging those defensive holes, I believe that our D-line, CB’s and Safeties are good enough to be successful in this league.
I’ll end this post by saying that Carlos Hyde is having a monster year and last night, he fought through a hip injury and still produced in a big way. I also must say that the entire team gave it their all and put in a gutty performance. Win or lose, that is all a true fan can ask for….