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Brian Hoyer Overcomes Early Adversity, Posts Huge Numbers vs. Rams

Posted Sep 22, 2017

The 49ers starting quarterback threw a pick on his first pass attempt, but rebounded nicely to give his team a chance to win.

The script called for an early completion to get the San Francisco 49ers offense rolling. On the first play from scrimmage, Brian Hoyer dropped back and looked to his right, expecting an easy pitch-and-catch to Marquise Goodwin on an out route.

Instead, Los Angeles Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman jumped the route, intercepted the pass and ran it all the way to the 49ers 3-yard line. Todd Gurley scored on the very next play to put the Rams up 7-0. That’s when San Francisco’s gameplan got flipped, turned upside down like Will Smith’s life in West Philadelphia. 

“The guy made a good play,” Hoyer said postgame. “He guessed right. We’re thinking with Marquise going over there, the speed that he has, the guy’s going to back way off. He just decided to sit on it so you chalk it up the guy making a good play. … You move on, and go play the rest of the game.”

It was a sub-optimal start to say that least, especially given the 49ers struggles offensively over the first two weeks of the season. Hoyer responded immediately, engineering a 14-play, 81-yard scoring drive that culminated in the quarterback’s second-career touchdown run. Hoyer’s 9-yard run across the goal line marked the first time San Francisco had reached the end zone in 2017.

Hoyer hadn’t run for a touchdown since his NFL debut in 2009 with the New England Patriots. He picked a great time for No. 2.

“Capping a long drive off and scoring, I think that was good for the whole offense really and just pumped everybody up,” Hoyer said.

A mixture of missed assignments, injuries and a short week ailed the 49ers defense against Los Angeles. Jared Goff and Co. continued to put up points which kept the pressure on San Francisco’s offense. At one point, the 49ers were down 41-26 with just 8:43 remaining in the game.

That’s when Hoyer unleashed a 59-yard bomb to Pierre Garçon. It was a beauty of a pass from Hoyer and Garçon made an incredible full-extension diving catch. That led to Trent Taylor’s first-career touchdown catch. The 49ers fought back and even had a two-point conversation attempt to try and tie the game at 41 points. San Francisco ultimately fell to the Rams, 41-39.

But after Hoyer’s longest completion through two weeks was just 22 yards, it was positive to see the passing game create some explosive plays. In addition to the 59-yard strike to Garçon, Hoyer completed a 50-yard pass to Goodwin and a 34-yard pass to Kyle Juszczyk. Garçon and Goodwin also each made highlight-reel grabs on the sideline. Both toe-tapping plays were initially called incomplete before being overturned via challenge.

Part of the 49ers aerial success also had to do with the necessity to take more risks while playing catch-up. Hoyer tried far more throws downfield than he did in Week 1 and 2.

“We just knew that we didn’t have a lot of time and we had to take some big plays,” he said.

Hoyer finished with 332 passing yards, the second-highest single-game total of his career. He added two touchdowns through the air and the one rushing score. That’s an impressive recovery after a nightmare start on the game’s first play.

“I just went up and talked to him, looked in his eyes, he looked fine,” Kyle Shanahan said. “He said, ‘I’m ready to go. I’ll be alright.’ He responded pretty well the next drive.”

The 49ers now have 10 days to prepare for their first of three-straight road games, a Week 4 bout against the Arizona Cardinals. There are no moral victories, but that doesn’t mean that bricks aren’t being laid upon a promising foundation.

“I was proud of the guys,” Shanahan said. “I told them, ‘When you’re 0-3 and you’re facing some adversity, you either get better or worse.’ If you have mentally strong people, I believe we can get better from all this stuff and I believe we do have the right guys in that room. I don’t really care about the record right now. I care about how guys are responding to it and I want these guys to come back Monday ready to go and ready to fight to get our first win.”

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