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.