Photo by Associated Press.
Originally Published: September 12, 2016 11:44 p.m.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The San Francisco 49ers opened the Chip Kelly era with a dominating win while the Rams are still seeking their first points since moving back to Los Angeles.
Carlos Hyde ran for 88 yards and two touchdowns and the San Francisco 49ers posted their first season-opening shutout in franchise history to spoil the return of the Los Angeles Rams with a 28-0 victory Monday night.
"It's huge any time you can get a conference win, opening night win," quarterback Blaine Gabbert said. "It's a big momentum driver for the team."
Shaun Draughn also ran for a score and Gabbert threw a touchdown pass to Vance McDonald to help the 49ers win their first game under coach Chip Kelly in convincing fashion.
After Los Angeles football fans waited more than 21 years to once again be able to call a team their own, they need to wait at least another week to see that team score.
"That wasn't what we expected, certainly not what I expected for the first game back in L.A.," coach Jeff Fisher said. "We have some work to do obviously."
Case Keenum threw for just 130 yards with two interceptions, star running back Todd Gurley was held to 47 yards on 17 carries and the Rams barely even threatened the Niners as they were held to 185 yards and 10 first downs all game.
"This team deserved better play from its quarterback and I intend on doing that," Keenum said.
San Francisco wasn't much better offensively but managed to run the ball fairly effectively early, leading to the two first-half touchdowns by Hyde and Draughn.
"People counted us out before the season even started," Hyde said. "We just stayed together as a group and worked together. It's us against the world. We just keep that mindset."
STAR EJECTION: Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald was ejected in the fourth quarter when he made contact with an official. The infraction came after Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree gave an extra push to Gabbert following a scramble. As players on both teams started jawing, Donald pushed a 49ers player and then made contact with an official. Donald was called for two personal fouls on the play and ejected.
"I let my emotions get the best of me," Donald said. "No excuses."
THIRD DOWN WOES: After converting their first third-down try on the opening drive, the Rams came up empty the next 10 times they faced a third down. They finally broke that drought when Keenum completed a 5-yard pass to Tavon Austin on third-and-4 late in the third quarter to get to the San Francisco 27. Two plays later, Keenum negated that good play by throwing his second interception of the game.
REPEAT PERFORMANCE: The 49ers opened the Kelly era in a similar fashion to the way they opened last year under first-year coach Jim Tomsula. San Francisco dominated Minnesota 20-3 in the late Monday night opener but won only four other games all season, leading to Tomsula's firing. This win was San Francisco's first shutout since beating the Jets 34-0 in 2012.
"The credit doesn't go to me, it goes to our defense and defensive staff," Kelly said. "We felt good about our defense going into the game, but you never really know until you get in the game. It's something for us to build on."
ANTHEM PROTEST: San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid once again kneeled during the national anthem , while a few other players protested by raising their fists. Rams defensive lineman Robert Quinn and receiver Kenny Britt and Niners linebacker Eli Harold and safety Antoine Bethea all held up their fists in protest. Kaepernick came on late with the game out of hand.
DOWN DRAFT PICKS: Both the Rams and Niners traded up for first-round picks in April with Los Angeles mortgaging the future to take quarterback Jared Goff first overall and San Francisco trading back into the first round to select guard Joshua Garnett 28th. Neither player even dressed for the opener. Goff was inactive as the third QB for the Rams and Garnett is buried on the depth chart in San Francisco.
BACKWARD PASS: On the opening drive of the second half, Gabbert completed a pass to himself when his throw was deflected by T.J. McDonald and he caught it. Unfortunately for the Niners, he was quickly tackled by McDonald for a loss of 16 yards.