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Week 16 Game Recap: Los Angeles Rams 31, San Francisco 49ers 34


What you need to know

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams had their game plan working to perfection on offense for much of the game, using play-action and the screen game to minimize the 49ers’ strong defensive front. Todd Gurley was largely held in check on the ground outside of using his speed to the edge on multiple occasions and converting two goal line opportunities into scores. Even with Gerald Everett back to active status, the tight end sparsely played as Tyler Higbee was an integral part of the Rams passing game for a fourth straight week during his torrid late-season production run.

San Francisco 49ers

This San Francisco performance on offense was no different than any other we've seen over the past two months. Therefore, there are only two things you really need to know that you didn't know already. First, it's becoming safer and safer to say that Raheem Mostert has taken Matt Breida's job, as Breida officially played zero snaps on offense despite being active for the game. Second, backup center Ben Garland, who the 49ers must rely on for the rest of the season due to Weston Richburg's injury, had another solid-if-unspectacular game, allowing zero pressures against Los Angeles despite facing the best defensive tackle in the NFL.

Los Angeles Rams

QB Jared Goff, 70 offensive snaps, Pass: 27 - 46 - 323 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 4 - 12 - 0
Goff played one of his best games of the season, nearly pulling off a road upset of the 49ers in the NFC West showdown. Goff was consistently used in the rollout and play-action passing game and the 49ers’ pass rush was minimized as a result, especially in the first half. Goff’s lone slip up in the first half was a quizzical pick-six interception on a flat route to Malcolm Brown to tarnish an otherwise strong opening to the game. Pressure was the theme of the third quarter for Goff as the Rams struggled on offense. The team (and Goff) rebounded later in the game, however, as Goff made a handful of highlight throws to the deeper parts of the field to Robert Woods twice, Tyler Higbee twice, and Brandin Cooks on one occasion. Goff should have had a second interception as he was hit during his motion and a defender dropped the pass in the closing minutes.

RB Todd Gurley, 54 offensive snaps, Rush: 15 - 48 - 2 (2 targets)
Secondary running backs barely played for the Rams against the 49ers. Gurley collected 15 carries and converted both of his goal line opportunities into touchdowns as the Rams’ offense churned out scoring drives. Gurley’s highlight moments were using a stiff arm on the edge and beating penetration in the backfield to turn losses into solid gains. Gurley rarely saw room on inside runs and did not corral either of his two targets in the game, his first week without reception since Week 7. Gurley has found the end zone in four straight games.

RB Darrell Henderson, 2 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 7 - 0
Henderson played sparingly against the 49ers but did see snaps ahead of Malcolm Brown earlier in the game. Henderson had a nice run up the middle, a rarity for the Rams in this game, as his lone positive moment and was stuffed on his perimeter opportunity.

WR Robert Woods, 70 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 6 - 0, Rec: 8 - 117 - 0 (11 targets)
Woods was targeted heavily yet again for the Rams offense, seeing 11 targets and 10 total touches. Woods was a magnet for a collection of Jared Goff’s best throws on the game, including three deep receptions of more than 20 yards, two of them on third-and-long. Woods’ lone missed opportunity came on a stuffed third-down screen pass and Woods was wide open on a deep out when Goff notably missed him. Woods has surpassed 1,000 yards on the season and still sits on a single receiving touchdown despite 83 receptions.

WR Brandin Cooks, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 39 - 1 (6 targets)
Cooks has inched his way back to relevancy in the Rams offense over the past two weeks and saw six targets against the 49ers. Cooks showed strong hands for a contested touchdown as Jared Goff extended a red zone play with Cooks uncovering in the back of the end zone. Cooks came up big late in the game as well with a third-and-long in-cut reception. Cooks was stuffed on his lone screen opportunity near the line of scrimmage.

WR Cooper Kupp, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 31 - 1 (4 targets)
Kupp saw a meager four targets against the 49ers but found the end zone for a fourth straight game. Kupp was stuffed on his two screen pass opportunities, including fumbling on one occasion, which the Rams fortunately recovered. Kupp had one notable play in the game, coming wide open on a deep crossing route for an easy chunk touchdown. Kupp has been a clear secondary option to Robert Woods and Tyler Higbee in the Rams offense over the past month.

TE Tyler Higbee, 62 offensive snaps, Rec: 9 - 104 - 0 (11 targets)
Despite Gerald Everett returning to active status for the Rams tight end depth chart, Higbee was a feature element of the Rams offense for a fourth straight week and surpassed 100 yards. Much of Higbee’s production came in the first half as the Rams zoomed out to hot start. Higbee was featured with multiple chunk gains in the screen game and added two highlight plays downfield between a high-point reception and another catch in traffic. Higbee nearly scored when tackled at the one-yard-line on a red zone slant and added a drop to his missed opportunities which could have added a score and surpassing 120 yards to his tally.


San Francisco 49ers

QB Jimmy Garoppolo, 57 offensive snaps, Pass: 16 - 27 - 248 - 1 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 4 - 5 - 0
Once again, Garoppolo came through in the clutch, especially on two throws that essentially won the game for San Francisco: a sack-evading roll out touchdown pass to George Kittle and a perfectly placed bomb to Emmanuel Sanders that set up Robby Gould's field goal at the buzzer. It might be said that, given his two interceptions leading to Rams scoring chances, Garoppolo was partly to blame for the early deficit his team had to come back from. However, both interceptions were due to great individual plays by Jalen Ramsey. On the first, Ramsey peeled off from his coverage responsibility to show up in a position even the best quarterbacks wouldn't expect him to be. And on the second, Ramsey deflected Garoppolo's (slightly thrown-behind) slant pass, which turned into a can of corn for whichever Rams defender wanted to claim it.

RB Raheem Mostert, 31 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 53 - 1 (1 targets)
Mostert didn't start, but he played most of the running back snaps. In fact, he appears to have completely overtaken Matt Breida on the depth chart, as Breida, though active against the Rams, only played on special teams. Having said all that, Mostert's only carry of note all game was his 16-yard touchdown run just before halftime. As is often the case with the 49ers run game, Mostert went untouched thanks to a perfectly executed run-blocking play design.

RB Tevin Coleman, 24 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 33 - 0
Once again, Coleman started but saw the field less than Raheem Mostert. He gained 21 of his 33 rushing yards on two fourth quarter carries. The first was a "keeping them honest" run sprinkled in the midst of five passes. The other made Robbie Gould's game-winning field goal 9 yards closer.

WR Deebo Samuel, 47 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 28 - 1, Rec: 4 - 31 - 0 (6 targets)
Samuel did almost all of his damage on one second quarter drive that brought San Francisco back to within one score. On the first play, his jet sweep motion presnap left him wide open for a wide receiver screen that he caught and ran for an 18-yard gain. Two plays later, he lined up in the backfield, took a shotgun handoff towards the left sideline, and outran three Rams defenders for a touchdown.

WR Emmanuel Sanders, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 61 - 0 (6 targets)
Sanders was neutralized by Darious Williams, Jalen Ramsey, and the Rams' zone defense -- until the game was on the line with one minute left. Sanders' 46-yard catch to set up San Francisco's game-winning field goal resulted from a complete breakdown on the back end of Los Angeles' Cover-2 zone. safety Taylor Rapp overplayed his anticipation of Sanders' route going towards the sideline, which rendered him a mere spectator when Sanders' route broke toward the deep middle on a post.

WR Kendrick Bourne, 30 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 29 - 0 (3 targets)
Once again, Bourne came through in his role as San Francisco's situational football weapon. This time, he converted a 3rd-and-16 on the 49ers' game-winning drive. It was a simple option route out of the left slot where he was able to settle down in a hole in the Rams' Cover-3 zone.

TE George Kittle, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 79 - 1 (8 targets)
Kittle was neutralized by a cavalcade of linebackers and safeties -- until one fourth quarter drive that gave San Franccisco the lead with six minutes left. To start said drive, Kittle ran uncovered through the Rams' zone for a 36-yard gain because Eric Weddle double-covered Deebo Samuel's go route with Jalen Ramsey, thereby leaving the strong-side intermediate level vacant. And at the end of said drive, Kittle scored on a scramble drill in the red zone. He was inititally double-covered by Corey Littleton and Taylor Rapp; but when Jimmy Garoppolo broke contain and rolled to his right, Kittle was able to escape from Littleton long enough to come open at the goal line.