SANTA CLARA, Calif. — With the San Francisco defense loaded up to stop Todd Gurley and the Los Angeles Rams running game, quarterback Case Keenum was unable to capitalize.
With top overall draft pick Jared Goff watching as an inactive third-stringer, Keenum frequently threw off-target, had two interceptions and was unable to get the Rams offense moving at all in a 28-0 season-opening loss to the 49ers on Monday night.
“This team deserved better play from its quarterback and I intend on doing that,” Keenum said. “This is not going to define me. Obviously it was a big stage and would have been a lot of fun to win on Monday night to start the season. It’s a long season. This is not us, offensively. This is not us.”
It better not be if the Rams have any hope about making their return to Los Angeles a successful one on the field. L.A. football fans waited more than 21 years for a team of their own to cheer for and now must wait at least another week for the first score.
The Rams were held to 185 yards, 10 first downs, and failed to make a single trip into the red zone in a rough opener.
“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. I’m very disappointed in the outcome.”
Fisher did say he is sticking for Keenum for now, even though he went just 17 for 35 for 130 yards and two interceptions. He said he briefly considered putting in backup Sean Mannion late in the game but decided to ride with Keenum to end this game and for at least the near future.
That’s even with Goff waiting in the wings after the Rams gave up a boatload of draft picks to get the top pick in April and select Goff as their future franchise quarterback.
“This doesn’t change anything as far as the quarterbacks are concerned,” Fisher said.
Gurley was held to 47 yards on 17 carries and had no runs longer than 10 yards. The Rams couldn’t back the Niners defense out of the box because Keenum was unable to threaten the Niners deep, relying mostly on short horizontal throws underneath the coverage.
“We have to stretch the field,” said receiver Tavon Austin, who had 13 yards on four catches. “We need to keep doing what we were doing. We were open a lot out there today. We just couldn’t connect. That’s the main thing. We’ll connect on it.”
Even the Rams vaunted defensive front struggled at times with Carlos Hyde running for 88 yards and the Niners gaining 150 yards in all on the ground with three scores.
That frustration boiled over when star 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 Blaine 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 just let emotions get the best of me,” he said. “There’s no excuses. I can’t make mistakes like that and hurt my team.”
After preparing all offseason for this game, the Rams now have a short week to prepare for their real return to L.A. with their home opener next week against Seattle.
“It’s embarrassing definitely for us to go out there and not put any points on the board,” Gurley said. “It’s a long season. We’re going to bounce back, shake this off and get ready for Sunday.”