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Other Week 17 Game Recaps

Week 17 Game Recap: San Francisco 49ers 34, Los Angeles Rams 13

What you need to know

San Francisco 49ers

It's likely that much of San Francisco's success on offense was due to Los Angeles resting their starters. Seemingly every player who touched the ball in this game benefitted from a blunder or two by defenders who were primarily responsible for them. Individually, Jimmy Garoppolo played worse than he has since donning a 49ers uniform, but he got the job done by being good enough when he had to be. Carlos Hyde and Matt Breida formed a formidable duo that ran through and over the Rams' backup front seven. Marquise Goodwin was dominating as a receiver until getting concussed late in the second quarter. Finally, both tight ends ran circles around the coverage of backup linebacker Corey Littleton.

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams rested their starters in this game and it showed in this game, as the offensive performance was relatively poor in a game that the Rams looked largely disinterested in as they prepare for the playoffs. Sean Mannion was relatively conservative in this game not trying to force the ball down the field except for a deep pass to Mike Thomas for 50-yards on a beautifully thrown ball. From a running standpoint, the team clearly missed Todd Gurley's athleticism as while Malcolm Brown filled in for Gurley, he does not have the speed and playmaking ability that Gurley has every time he touches the ball as Brown is more of a power running back.

San Francisco 49ers

QB Jimmy Garoppolo, 64 offensive snaps, Pass: 20 - 33 - 292 - 2 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 2 - -1 - 0
This was Garoppolo's worst performance since becoming San Francisco's starter. Both interceptions were his fault: One was an underthrow across the middle, while the other was an overthrew across the middle. In addition, Garoppolo missed several open receivers, including short-arming Louis Murphy, who was completely uncovered 20 yards downfield with room to run. All of that said, Garoppolo *still* threw for nearly 300 yards and 8.8 yards per attempt, avoided sacks, and led the 49ers to a three-score victory. Granted this came against the Rams' backup defense, but the performance shows Garoppolo doesn't have to play his best game all game every game in order for his offense to function smoothly and effectively. It should also be noted that he was missing his favorite receiver, Marquise Goodwin, for the entire second half.

RB Carlos Hyde, 45 offensive snaps, Rush: 15 - 90 - 2, Rec: 2 - 10 - 0 (4 targets)
Hyde ran for 6 yards per carry against Los Angeles' backup front seven. Oddly enough, most of his damage -- including one of his touchdowns -- came on runs to the outside left rather than up the middle vacated by All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Other than that, and his continued lack of involvement in the passing game, this was a typical Hyde performance we've seen for years: power, elusiveness, and the occasional fumble. All three of these were on display during a single fourth quarter carry. Out of an an I-formation, Hyde side-stepped immediate up-the-middle penetration by defensive end Morgan Fox, and then cut back inside to avoid safety Cody Davis's outside pursuit at the line of scrimmage. From there, he burst through the hole that had opened up and ran through two tackle attempts -- only to fumble at the end of the run because he was fighting for even more yardage rather than just going to the ground to continue burning clock with a second-half lead.

RB Matt Breida, 20 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 72 - 0, Rec: 1 - 32 - 0 (2 targets)
With the Rams' defensive front seven playing backups save for eight plays, it wasn't surprising to see Breida (and Carlos Hyde) run for 6 yards per carry. It was surprising, however, to see Breida post his longest reception of the season, a 32-yard catch and run in the back half of the fourth quarter. On the play, San Francisco lined up with two in-line tight ends, but no wide receiver, on the right side of the formation and with both Breida and Hyde in the backfield. Hyde motioned left and both tight ends ran in-breaking routes towards the left side of the field. All of these actions drew the defense in that direction, primarily the two defenders on the tight end side of the defense, thereby allowing Breida to slip out of the backfield completely uncovered. By the time the Rams figured out their error, the closest would-be tacklers weren't within 20 yards of him.

RB Kyle Juszczyk, 39 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 19 - 0 (4 targets)
Two of Juszczyk's were of the dumpoff variety; the two others were designed for him. The first of these could have resulted in a much bigger gain if not for a great read-and-react play by cornerback Troy Hill. On the play, Juszczyk lined up in the right slot. Matt Breida motioned next to him prior to the snap, and then picked a linebacker to open up the short middle, which is exactly where Juszcyk's slant was designed to take him. The other target designed for Juszczyk involved faking his patented wheel route, instead breaking it off in the left flat and running an out. He was wide open, thereby gaining 14 yards untouched.

WR Marquise Goodwin, 21 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 10 - 0, Rec: 2 - 28 - 1 (4 targets)
Goodwin left the game at the end of the first half after being concussed by an illegal hit from safety Blake Countess. Prior to that, he was the target on three intermediate-length throws and one short throw. On a 20-yard catch in the middle of the field, Goodwin ran a deep comback against cornerback Troy Hill and gently nudged Hill downfield (read: pushed off) to gain separation at the top of his route. A second long target was incomplete because Goodwin wasn't able to get both feet in bounds along the left sideline, while another was intercepted because it Jimmy Garoppolo underthrew it. Goodwin's short target resulted in athe 49ers first touchdown of the game. Lined up in the trail position of a stacked right formation, he faked a reverse to the left, pivoted, and ran uncovered into the right flat. With his speed, Goodwin was easily able to run away from pursuing defenders and into the end zone.

WR Trent Taylor, 15 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 29 - 0 (2 targets)
Not surprisingly, both of Taylor's catches came on short, in-breaking routes from the slot. On the first, he beat cornerback Troy Hill and then spun out of Hill's tackle attempt to gain an extra 8 yards. On the second, he had the good fortune of pass rusher Robert Quinn dropping into coverage on a zone blitz. Taylor easily found the hole behind Quinn and in front of the secondary.

WR Kendrick Bourne, 18 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 28 - 0 (5 targets)
One of Bourne's targets was intercepted and the other was on a throwaway, so he really had two catches in three attempts. On the lone incompletion, Bourne beat cornerback Kevin Peterson on a post pattern, but safety Cody Davis jumped the route and jarred the ball loose. Of his two completions, one was more impressive than the other, as he beat the man-to-man coverage of Trumaine Johnson on one of only 8 snaps the Rams' defensive starters played.

WR Louis Murphy, 30 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (2 targets)
Another week, another instance of Murphy starting, but then only playing half the offensive snaps and being an afterthought in the passing game. His lone reception came on a pivot route against Cover-2 in the second quarter.

WR Aldrick Robinson, 39 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 12 - 1 (3 targets)
Robinson played more than usual due to Marquise Goodwin's concussion midway through the second quarter. He wasn't able to replace Goodwin's production, however. Robinson was targeted twice in the red zone on nearly identical routes, a skinny post out of the slot. The first was deflected away by cornerback Kevin Peterson. The second resulted in a touchdown when Robinson faked slot cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman out of his shoes to get wide open.

TE George Kittle, 36 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 100 - 0 (6 targets)
Kittle had his longest catch of the season on San Francisco's fourth play of the game, a 44-yard catch and run that saw him easily beat linebacker Corey Littleton's man-to-man coverage on a quick slant. On Kittle's second target (and catch), he found a hole in the short middle zone behind Littleton. Next up was a 4-yard catch on Kyle Shanahan's bread-and-butter, backside tight end play-action passing play. Kittle's final reception once again exploited Littleton's zone, but this time he was able to gain 28 yards after the catch by breaking two tackle attempts -- one by Littleton -- and running away from two more.

TE Garrett Celek, 34 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 28 - 0 (1 targets)
Celek's lone target (and reception) set up San Francisco's third quarter touchdown to go up 27-6. Algined on the left side of the offensive line opposite a trips right formation, Celek beat linebacker Corey Littleton on a deep corner route.

Los Angeles Rams

QB Sean Mannion, 65 offensive snaps, Pass: 20 - 34 - 169 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 4 - 0
Sean Mannion struggled in this game as the Rams asked him to do very little in this game and not throw the ball deep. To be fair for Mannion, he did not have many options to work with in this game as the Rams sat their top receivers in this game. He did make a perfect throw to Mike Thomas on a 50-yard completion that was a ball that was placed perfectly between two defenders.

RB Malcolm Brown, 41 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 54 - 0, Rec: 4 - 7 - 0 (5 targets)
Malcolm Brown filled in for Todd Gurley who rested for this game, and the difference was noticeable. Brown who ran a 4.62 40-yard dash runs hard, but speed is his biggest weakness while power is his biggest strength. He was able to make the most of a 20-yard pitch play in which he caught the ball and made contact with the initial defender about 9-yards downfield but was able to carry defenders for 11-yards. Brown did show off the trust in the receiving game as he was a check-down option for Mannion catching four of his five targets.

RB Lance Dunbar, 24 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 20 - 1, Rec: 1 - 1 - 0 (2 targets)
Lance Dunbar was the change of pace back for the Rams and saw the goal-line work this week. The veteran made the most of his limited opportunities finding the end-zone on a 8-yard rush in the fourth quarter. Outside of this, Dunbar saw very limited work as he was not involved in the passing game outside of a one-yard dump off pass.

RB Chase Reynolds
Josh Reynolds came in with a lot of hype in this game as Reynolds was the number one receiver, but he actually was third on the team in snaps as he was pulled when the game got out of hand as well as the team will potentially look to utilize Reynolds in certain packages in the playoffs. Reynolds was tied for the lead in targets, but several of these were forced targets that led to just two receptions for 16 yards as the 49ers had their focus on Reynolds for the most of the day.

WR Mike Thomas, 60 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 75 - 0 (4 targets)
Mike Thomas was the one bright spot for the Rams this week as he was able to make a huge play for 50 yards on a deep go-route on a play in which Thomas simply outran the defensive back, and was able to make the catch before the safety could come over to help. He did take a big hit on the play losing the ball out of bounds, but the call was made as a catch.

TE Gerald Everett, 33 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 16 - 0 (6 targets)
Without Tyler Higbee, playmaker Gerald Everett was a primary option out of the passing game as he was tied for the lead in targets for the Rams, but much like the rest of the offense had a very difficult time getting anything going as the 49ers had Everett locked down and Mannion just missed the tight end on a few key throws in which Everett would have had a big gain.