Originally published by RamsNewswire.com
The Los Angeles Rams played their first division game in Week 6, traveling to take on the San Francisco 49ers in what was their toughest test yet.
Unfortunately, the Rams picked the worst time to lay their biggest egg as they fell to the 49ers, 24-16, to drop the 4-2 on the season.
It was bad from the jump for the Rams as the 49ers went six plays and 76 yards on their opening drive for a touchdown. L.A. then immediately followed with a quick punt, which was a microcosm of what was to come.
Rams punter Johnny Hekker had a busy night, punting the ball a season-high seven times, and 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan did a nice job of keeping L.A.’s offense off the field. San Francisco dominated time of possession, holding the ball for 37:55 compared to just 22:05 for the Rams.
Couple that was Jared Goff’s worst game of the season and it comes as no surprise that the Rams didn’t come out on top. They made it a one-score game late on a 40-yard touchdown to Josh Reynolds, but the defense wasn’t able to get the final stop it needed and the 49ers were able to run out the clock to secure the victory.
Despite the loss, there was plenty to take away from it for the Rams to improve moving forward, so here are a few observations.
Goff was off
The Rams have been committed to the run game all season long in order to help out Goff, but for some reason, they went away from it early in this one and the result was Goff’s worst game of the season.
L.A. threw the ball four times on five plays on their opening drive, and Goff was inaccurate on most of them. The same could be said on their second drive when they went three-and-out on two throws and one run.
Goff had trouble hooking up with his two favorite targets, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, targeting that duo 19 times and only converting for a total of seven receptions for 40 yards.
Overall, Goff posted season-lows in completion percentage (50%), passing yards (198) and quarterback rating (72). The Rams actually ran the ball efficiently, averaging 5.9 yards per carry on the night, so hopefully they get back to establishing the run early next week to better open up the passing game for Goff.
Kittle was a problem
It’s no secret that George Kittle is one of the best tight ends in the league, and the Rams still have yet to figure out how to stop him.
Going back to 2018, Kittle posted lines of 5-98-1 and 9-149-1 against the Rams. He then followed that up in 2019 with 8-103-0 and 5-79-1 in two games.
The Rams tried to mix up their coverages on Kittle this time around, throwing different bodies at him such as Micah Kiser, Troy Hill, Darious Williams and even Jalen Ramsey. The results were the same though as Kittle finished with a game-high seven receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown.
He made the biggest play of the night early in the second quarter when the 49ers decided to go for it on fourth-and-2 from the Rams’ 44-yard line. The Rams decided to stack the box and go without a safety, and Kittle made them pay with a quick slant route that he took to the house for a touchdown after breaking a tackle.
The blueprint that the Rams can’t stop dominant tight ends is now out there after this Kittle performance, so it’s back to the drawing board for Brandon Staley and Co.
Shanahan neutralized Rams’ pass rush with quick throws
The Rams’ pass rush has been flat out dominant the last couple weeks, notably recording eight sacks against the Washington Football Team in Week 5.
Shanahan came up with an outstanding gameplan to neutralize Aaron Donald and the Rams’ defensive line though, getting the ball out of Jimmy Garoppolo’s hands as quickly as possible so he didn’t have to deal with bodies in his face.
Out of Garoppolo’s 268 passing yards, 226 of them came after the catch. He averaged just 4.4 air yards per attempt. Wide receiver Deebo Samuel did a lot of the work as his six targets all came behind the line of scrimmage for an average of -5.3 air yards per target, and he turned it into 66 yards and a touchdown, making some big plays.
This is another case of the blueprint being out so Staley has work to do to counter teams that get the ball out of the quarterback’s hands quickly to neutralize Donald. It has also become clear that the Rams’ secondary doesn’t have the best tacklers in space, so they are going to have to improve moving forward as well.
Where was Cam Akers?
After Rams rookie running back Cam Akers had a 44-yard run last week, Sean McVay stated that he expected his workload to increase moving forward.
Well…we saw the exact opposite in this one.
As previously stated, the Rams got away from the run early, so the final snap count ended with 32 for Darrell Henderson, 27 for Malcolm Brown and just one for Akers.
Now, Henderson was very effective, carrying the ball 14 times for 88 yards so it doesn’t come as a huge surprise that they stuck with him late. Both he and Brown are also better pass protectors than the rookie Akers, and McVay stated that Akers’ lack of action was due to game flow issues, not his talent.
The Rams have yet to fully unleash Akers though and with the way Henderson is playing, it may soon be fair to assume that it might not happen at all this season. Sure, Akers will get some carries, but the hope was that he eventually would become the team’s every-down back and that has not been the case so far.
Kicking is a problem
This has been something to monitor all season after the Rams let go of Greg Zuerlein and drafted rookie kicker Samuel Sloman.
So far, the results have no been great as Sloman missed an extra point against the 49ers, giving him three missed extra points and two missed field goals on the season.
No, the missed extra point did not cost the Rams the game this time. It could in the future though, so Sloman is on thin ice moving forward.
Things don’t get any easier for the Rams as they welcome the 5-1 Chicago Bears to town in Week 7. Luckily, they will have an extra day to prepare for Nick Foles, Khalil Mack and Co. with the game being on Monday Night Football, the first in SoFi Stadium’s history.
There’s no denying that Goff and the defense will have to be better against Chicago. This could end up being a game with playoff implications down the road, so look for the Rams to get back on track at home in another primetime game.
The post Five Observations From Rams’ Week 6 Road Loss To 49ers appeared first on Rams Newswire.