49ers

49ers win battle of the lines in season opener vs Rams

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49ers win battle of the lines in season opener vs Rams

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers had success Monday night against the Los Angeles Rams’ defensive line, widely considered one of the better position groups in the league.

And how can that be?

“Because I feel like we’re one of the better offensive lines,” 49ers center Daniel Kilgore said, following the 49ers’ 28-0 victory in the season opener.

The 49ers rushed for 150 yards, and quarterback Blaine Gabbert was not sacked. Things got so bad that Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald was ejected late in the game for his part in a skirmish with 49ers receiver Quinton Patton.

“My offensive line did a great job,” Hyde said. “All week we talked about was (No.) 99 (Donald), and I thought they did a great job. They got him out of his game. He got kicked out of the game.”

The 49ers' offensive line was a glaring weakness last season. Now, it seems to be a strength, and that's even with the uncertainty over the weekend. Anthony Davis was listed as questionable for the game Monday night after missing Saturday’s practice in what coach Chip Kelly called “a misunderstanding.”

Davis was not available for comment after the game. He moved into the starting lineup at right guard in the final two weeks of the exhibition season. But on Saturday, Kelly said he made the decision to start Andrew Tiller ahead of Davis.

“As I looked at it, going through, it was really my decision and I told AD, we’d just start Tiller going into this game,” Kelly said. “We knew that was a pretty formidable front. We’ll continue to grow AD. Again, he’s missed a lot of football. And I’ll give him a lot of credit. He handled it like a professional. It was my decision.”

Davis started the first 81 regular-season and playoff games of his career at right tackle before taking a one-year hiatus last season to let his mind and body heal, he said. Davis was active for Monday's game as a backup tackle.

Tiller stepped in and drew the main assignment against Donald, who was held to three tackles and just one quarterback hurry.

“I felt like I did pretty good, but still have to watch film tomorrow and see,” Tiller said.

Tiller said he felt like he had a good training camp, but he did not ask any questions when the original decision was made to start Davis at right guard. On Saturday, Tiller said he received the news that he would be returning to the starting lineup.

“I was preparing every day that week like I was going to play, so it wouldn’t be a surprise at the end of the week,” Tiller said.

What might have been a surprise was the ease with which the 49ers dispatched the Rams in their first game after moving from St. Louis in the offseason. The 49ers converted 8 of their 16 third-down opportunities with the starters in the game. Hyde rushed for 88 yards and two touchdowns, and Gabbert completed 22 of 35 passes for 170 yards with no interceptions and no sacks.

“Their front seven is so talented, and the O-line did a great job of opening up holes for our running backs and giving me time to throw the ball,” Gabbert said.

Jimmy Garoppolo had good reason for missing Emmanuel Sanders' TD pass

Jimmy Garoppolo had good reason for missing Emmanuel Sanders' TD pass

The 49ers threw five touchdown passes in their thrilling 48-46 road win over the Saints on Sunday. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo tossed four of them. The player who was on the receiving end of his second was the gunslinger on the other passing score.

Three offensive plays after wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders caught a 75-yard touchdown -- the longest TD pass of Garoppolo's career -- San Francisco utilized some trickery against New Orleans, as Sanders took a reverse before tossing a 35-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Raheem Mostert. Sanders actually made a great adjustment to avoid the oncoming rush, and this throw was right on the money.

It turns out, though, that Jimmy G didn't see it in the moment, and he had a funny explanation as to why.

"I didn't actually get to see it," Garoppolo admitted with a smile following the victory. "I was 'blocking'".

Don't sell yourself short, Jimmy. Another look at the tape reveals that Garoppolo indeed was "blocking" on the right side of the 49ers' offensive line during the developing play, and even threw a shoulder -- the non-throwing one, of course -- into an oncoming rusher.

[RELATED: 'You're balling': Garcia praises Jimmy G for recent play]

The play probably would have been successful without Garoppolo's blocking, but his additional effort made it that much more impressive. He might not have seen Sanders' great throw in real-time, but hey, that's what replays are for.

49ers disappointed with lack of defensive execution in win over Saints

49ers disappointed with lack of defensive execution in win over Saints

NEW ORLEANS -- For the second week in a row, the 49ers' defense got off to a slow start on Sunday in their 48-46 win over the Saints

Prior to their matchup in New Orleans, the 49ers' defense was ranked second in the NFL by allowing only 267.4 yards of offense per game -- 116.6 on the ground and 150.8 through the air. Quarterback Drew Brees and the Saints crushed those numbers, with 465 yards of total offense. 

The defense was unable to sack Brees after successfully getting to opposing quarterbacks 45 times over their first 12 games. Missed tackles and blown assignments allowed the Saints to put up 27 points in the first half alone. 

Cornerback Richard Sherman, who left the game early with a hamstring injury, seemed more disappointed by the performance of the defense than upset. While the 49ers have often relied on their defense to control and direct the outcome of games, this time the offense was the difference maker

“Thank goodness for our offense,” Sherman said. “Thank goodness for Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle, obviously Kyle Shanahan, the entire offense. They made plays when they had to. We’re thankful we got the win.” 

Sherman’s disappointment fell predominantly on the mistakes in basic coverage and a lack of execution. 

“It’s frustrating because of simple plays,” Sherman said. “It’s things we’ve gone over. It’s not like they beat us with a bunch of trick misdirection plays. These are day-one football plays that we have to execute better. 

“Give credit to them. Drew saw them, found the people that were open, and made the plays. Give them credit, they had a good plan coming in, but we have to execute better.” 

Defensive lineman DeForest Buckner couldn’t put his finger on why the defense came out flat for the second week in a row, but definitely recognized the issue. 

“Early on we needed to get our feet set and they jumped on us early,” Buckner said. “I feel like towards the second half we started to make key stops and keep them to field goals. They got us on that last drive. Our offense responded well and we know there’s things that we need to clean up.” 

[RELATED: 49ers' Moore mocks Saints for not knowing rule on fake punt]

The 49ers have a week to prepare for their next matchup facing the Falcons, and must have a much stronger start defensively. 

“We just have to come out with more energy,” Buckner said. “Two weeks we came out kind of slow and that’s just not like us. So we just got to get back to what we do and just take it one play at a time.”