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San Francisco 49ers rout LA Rams in NFL season opener

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Carlos Hyde of the San Francisco 49ers rushes with the ball against the Los Angeles Rams during their NFL game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, on September 12, 2016 © Getty/AFP / Thearon W. Henderson

SAN FRANCISCO, United States, Sep 13Carlos Hyde scored two touchdowns as the San Francisco 49ers routed Los Angeles 28-0 in the Rams’ season opener and first game since returning to southern California following a 21-year absence.

Quarterback Blaine Gabbert threw a touchdown pass as the 49ers were in control throughout, giving new San Francisco coach Chip Kelly a victory in his debut Monday night at Levi’s Stadium.

“The credit goes to our defence and our defensive staff,” said Kelly. “They did a very nice job. It is something for us to build on.”

It was a tough night for the Rams whose return to Los Angeles after a 21-year stay in St. Louis had created a buzz around the National Football League only to be shutout in their season opener.

This was among the league’s top rivalries back in the 1970s and 1980s when the Los Angeles Rams or the 49ers won all but two NFC West Division crowns.

San Francisco backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick continued his American anthem protest Monday by kneeling during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner.

Colin Kaepernick (C-R) and Eric Reid of the San Francisco 49ers kneel in protest during the national anthem, prior to playing the Los Angeles Rams at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, on September 12, 2016 © Getty/AFP / Thearon W. Henderson

He was joined on the ground by teammate Eric Reid and Antoine Bethea and Eli Harold, who both raised their right fists in a similar fashion to US Olympian Tommie Smith’s black power salute at the 1968 Mexico City Games. Two members of the Rams also joined in as Robert Quinn and Kenny Britt also held up fists.

But Kaepernick’s protest didn’t sit well with a few of the fans located behind the 49ers’ bench who yelled at Kaepernick to stand up during the playing of the song.

Hyde gained 88 yards on 23 carries and Gabbert completed 22-of-35 passes for 170 yards and an eight-yard touchdown to tight end Vance McDonald.

Running back Shaun Draughn scored on a three-yard run in the second quarter, and wide receiver Jeremy Kerley grabbed seven passes for 61 yards.

The 49ers’ defence held the Rams to 185 total yards.

Los Angeles running back Todd Gurley ran for just 47 yards on 17 carries. Gurley was the league’s offensive rookie of the year last year.

– Keenum struggles –

Quarterback Case Keenum of the Los Angeles Rams looks to pass against the San Francisco 49ers during their NFL game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, on September 12, 2016 © Getty/AFP / Ezra Shaw

Quarterback Case Keenum struggled mightily in the first season-opening start of his career. He completed 17-of-35 passes for 130 yards with two interceptions.

Rams rookie quarterback Jared Goff, the first overall pick in the 2016 draft, wasn’t able to crack the starting lineup and was in street clothes for the final game of NFL’s first week of action.

In the earlier Monday contest, Ben Roethlisberger threw for 300 yards and three touchdowns and the Pittsburgh Steelers stomped the host Washington Redskins 38-16.

Wide receiver Antonio Brown grabbed eight passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns for the Steelers. Roethlisberger completed 27-of-37 passes with one interception at FedEx Field stadium.

Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins had his streak of 16 straight regular-season games with a touchdown pass snapped. He completed 30-of-43 passes for 329 yards and threw two interceptions.

DeSean Jackson had six catches for 102 yards for Washington.

The Steelers went two-for-two on fourth down conversions.

Conversely the Redskins were zero-for-two on fourth down and just three-for-10 on third downs.

“We didn’t convert (fourth downs) and we weren’t very good on third downs,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “The money downs are a big difference in the game, but overall they just out-coached us and out-played us.”

Said Redskins cornerback Josh Norman, “They took us out behind the woodshed. It was good old fashioned whipping.”

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