Injuries, a lack of offensive weapons, and a mass of penalties continued to send the San Francisco 49ers season into a downward spiral as they were downed by the St. Louis Rams on Sunday in a 27-6 snooze fest.
No one expected Sunday’s game between the league’s worst offenses to be a dazzling display of offensive prowess. But the 49ers continue to surpass everyone’s expectations in the worst way, as they tallied just 169 total yards and 11 first downs.
The team had more penalties (13 for 93 yards) than first downs, double-digit punts (10) and a plethora of injures that mark a new low in the 49ers disastrous season.
The majority of St. Louis’ points came on the backs of two of their most explosive young playmakers, as RB Todd Gurley and WR Tavon Austin broke the monotony of the game with a pair of long touchdowns.
Gurley’s score came on a 71-yard touchdown through the middle of the pack in the second quarter, while Austin’s fourth-quarter 66-yard touchdown broke a second-half scoring drought.
QB Colin Kaepernick could not rebound from his previous poor showing against Seattle, completing just 20-of-41 attempts for 162 yards and no touchdowns. Kaepernick’s job was not made easier by the loss of two of his biggest playmakers in RB Carlos Hyde and WR Anquan Boldin, who were ruled out prior to kickoff.
Just one day after the 49ers cut the dynamic RB Jarryd Hayne, the team received injuries to both Reggie Bush (knee) and Mike Davis(hand), leaving Kendall Gaskins as the only healthy running back on the roster. He finished the game with a meager six yards on five attempts.
Perhaps more concerning is how the 49ers defense — still the anchor of this lowly team — allowed 26 points to the league’s second-worst offense. St. Louis came into today’s game averaging just 18 points per game.
The loss sends the 49ers into a 2-6 basement in the NFC West. The mounting injuries, lack of aptitude on offense and apparent discord behind the scenes has the team off to its worst start since 2010.
The 49ers opened the game on somewhat of a positive note, doing something on their opening drive that they had done just once before this season-score points.
The often porous San Francisco line held their ground against the fearsome defensive from of the Rams, buying Kaepernick time to complete 3-of-4 passes for 28 yards.
Filling in the for the injured Carlos Hyde, a running back duo of Mike Davis and Reggie Bush chewed up additional yardage for the 49ers before the drive came to a halt at the St. Louis 36-yard line.
K Phil Dawson would then be called upon to convert a 54-yard field goal, which the kicker sent perfectly through the uprights for a 3-0 lead.
After a few unceremonious drives from both teams, disaster struck for the 49ers in the form of yet another running back injury, this time to starter Reggie Bush. After sprinting sideways on a punt return, Bush was driven forcefully out of bounds, sliding into the concrete sidewall with his left knee as he tried to slow his movement.
The veteran stayed on the ground as a scrum of players — including injured Anquan Boldin — broke out on the sidelines, resulting in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on San Francisco. Bush would eventually have to be taken away on a cart.
The disastrous implications of the play didn’t just end with the departure of Bush, as the penalty backed San Francisco near their goal line. It was then next-man-up Davis who tried to buy the 49ers breathing room, but the rookie was brought down in the backfield for a safety.
The game’s offense then came to a screeching halt by both sides, as the two teams combined for just 16 plays for 58 total yards — including five punts and a fumble — in what resembled more of an alumni game than an NFL showing.
But it was the electrifying Gurley who put a charge back into the St. Louis crowd, as the rookie ended the scoring drought with a 71-yard touchdown run through the middle of the pack, outracing S Eric Reid for his third NFL touchdown. St. Louis would jump out to a 10-3 lead following a two-point conversion.
The 49ers would threaten St. Louis shortly after, but their 73-yard drive would stall short of the goal line after FB Bruce Miller dropped a pass with space to operate, sending Dawson back out for his second field goal of the night.
With just under two minutes to go, St. Louis steadily marched themselves down the field, aided by the careless play of the 49ers defense, which was more adept at drawing flags than making tackles.
The 49ers saw three defensive penalties for 21 yards and two automatic first downs, lending the Rams a helping in hand in driving to the goal line before WR Tavon Austin would convert the two-yard touchdown on a Jets sweep to the right.
Despite the 20 first-half points from the Rams, the game was a clinic of poor football as the game saw a total of 18 penalties for 128 total yards, with nine punts, one fumble, one safety and some near picks from Kaepernick.
The 49ers penalty prowess came back to bite them even harder in the third quarter, when what would have been a fumble recovery for a touchdown by San Francisco was called back due to a facemask penalty on OLB Ahmad Brooks.
The snoozer of a game saw yet another temporary burst of excitment by the Rams in the middle of the fourth, when WR Tavon Austin broke free for the second biggest play of the day.
This time, Austin took a swing pass out of the backfield through the heart of the 49ers defense for a 66-yard touchdown to break the game open at 27-6 in favor of St. Louis.
The 49ers would make one last push to score points, but a failed fourth down pass would turn the ball over to St. Louis before they ran the clock out to secure the win.
The 49ers look to snap their two-game skid against the Atlanta Falcons at Levi’s Stadium on November 8.