Observations & Analysis From Rams’ Disappointing Week 12 Loss To 49ers

Originally published by RamsNewswire.com

Jared Goff, Rams offensive line

The Los Angeles Rams were coming off perhaps their best win of the season on Monday Night Football in Week 11, traveling to the East Coast for the final time and coming away with a big victory over Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The hope was that they would be able to build off that and take care of business against a beat-up San Francisco 49ers team at home in Week 12, although that did not end up being the case.

Not only did the Rams turn the ball over four times, but they also went just 4-for-13 on third down, which made things awfully tough for their defense, which had three turnovers and a touchdown of their own.

Despite all that, the Rams took a 20-17 lead in the fourth quarter and had a prime opportunity to steal a win. After the 49ers kicked a game-tying field goal with 3:11 left, all Jared Goff had to do was lead one drive to get L.A. into field goal range to kick the game-winner.

The Rams instead only took a minute of the clock and were forced to punt, setting up a game-winning drive opportunity for Nick Mullens and the 49ers’ offense. Unlike the Rams, they made the most of the opportunity and went 56 yards on 11 plays to set Robbie Gould up for a 42-yard field goal, which he drilled as time expired to win the game.

This was a tough loss for the Rams as a win would have put them in a great position to win the NFC West. Now, at 7-4, they are back to the pack and will have to win some tough games down the stretch just to make the playoffs.

As I get into my analysis of this game, it wouldn’t make sense to start anywhere other than Goff and the Rams offense…

Jared Goff is what he is

We are now in the fifth year of the Jared Goff experience in L.A., and it has become crystal clear what he is as a quarterback.

Everyone knows that Goff isn’t mobile, but if you are able to protect him and create a clean pocket, or get him on the move rolling out after play-action, then he has a great arm and will almost always find the open man to carve defenses up.

The issue is when Goff is not being protected and the pocket isn’t clean. His decision-making while under pressure is arguably the worst in the league, and most of the time the result is failing to take care of the football.

That’s what Jared Goff is, and it’s not going to change. And the Rams aren’t going to make a change at quarterback, either.

The problem with that, though, is that Goff’s ability to take care of the football directly correlates with the Rams winning or losing. Goff only has five turnovers in the team’s seven wins this season, which is fewer than one per game, and nine turnovers in four losses, which is more than two per game.

So as the end of the regular season draws closer, it is clear that the Rams will go as far as Goff will take them.

Sean McVay deserves some blame

Now, just because Goff was awful against the 49ers, turning the ball over three times, that does not mean that Sean McVay doesn’t deserve some of the blame here for his playcalling.

For the second week in a row, the Rams failed to establish the run early, which put even more pressure on Goff to be a hero in the passing game.

This time though, the Rams actually got the run going late. Rookie Cam Akers broke out a 61-yard run late in the third quarter and then punched it in a couple of plays later for a touchdown to give the Rams a 20-17 lead.

The Rams ran 10 offensive plays after that, with seven of them being passes. When L.A. got the ball back with 3:11 left and the game tied, they called five straight passes before punting. Not only did that allow the 49ers to get the ball back for the game-winning drive, but it also ensured they had more than two minutes left since L.A. essentially ran no time off the clock.

If the Rams weren’t going to kick a game-winning field goal on their final drive, the least they could have done is ran some clock to send the game to overtime. They did neither and lost the game because of it.

Rams defense is still elite

As bad as the Rams offense was in this one, the defense was equally as good. They created three turnovers of their own, including two that came immediately after the Rams offense turned it over.

Then in the third quarter when the team was trailing 17-6 and the offense couldn’t get anything going, the defense even came up with a touchdown of their own with Aaron Donald stripping Raheem Mostert and Troy Hill scooping it up and returning it all the way to make it a one-score game.

Donald, who had a rough few weeks coming in, got back to his dominant ways, practically living in the backfield with four quarterback hits, a sack, two tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a pass deflection that led to an interception for Jordan Fuller.

Still a little soft though

As great as the defense was though, their inability to tackle in space proved costly. 49ers receiver Deebo Samuel deserves a ton of credit for carrying their offense, hauling in 11 receptions for 133 yards in his first game back from injury. The Rams simply could not tackle this guy as 83 of his yards came after contact. Just look at how many tackles he broke throughout the course of the game:

Under Brandon Staley, this Rams defense really doesn’t have any weaknesses and remains one of the best in the league. But if their defensive backs continue to tackle poorly in space, then teams are going to continue to exploit that moving forward.

So far so good for Matt Gay

Checking in on the Rams’ kicking situation, and at least one positive from the game is that Matt Gay was perfect, drilling both of his field goals and both extra points. He has now made nine of his 10 kicks in two games for the Rams, which is a huge improvement from the other kickers the team has had this season.

Up Next

Things don’t get any easier for the Rams moving forward as they face another tough test in the 6-5 Arizona Cardinals on the road in Week 13.

With the NFC West standings being as close as they are, this is a big game for the Rams if they want to win the division.

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