The San Francisco 49ers had issues with ball security over the first half against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 17, which didn't help the prospects for another upset but at least put the Niners in better positioning for the 2019 NFL Draft.

Well, things didn't go so hotly for the San Francisco 49ers over the first half in Week 17 against the Los Angeles Rams, as head coach Kyle Shanahan's squad finds itself in a 31-10 hole after two quarters.

The Niners, who started off on offense, quickly coughed up the ball by the way of a fumble from fullback Kyle Juszczyk at the 13:19 mark of the first quarter. The Rams recovered, and three plays later, quarterback Jared Goff found wide receiver Brandin Cooks for a 3-yard touchdown to give L.A. a 7-0 lead. On San Francisco's subsequent drive, and two minutes later, quarterback Nick Mullens was hit by Rams outside linebacker Dante Fowler while he was attempting to throw. His pass wobbled and found its way into the hands of Los Angeles linebacker Corey Littleton.

L.A. scored again on the drive, getting out to a 14-0 lead and indicating the 49ers were going to be in for a long afternoon.

To make things worse, running back Jeff Wilson suffered a shoulder injury on the play and had to be carted off the field. He's questionable to return. Mullens, on his following possession, attempted to hit tight end George Kittle in the end zone. But that pass was deflected up into the air and came down into the arms of Rams safety Blake Countess for the Niners' third lost turnover of the day. Fortunately for San Francisco, the defense held and forced a punt, ending the Rams' streak of scoring points off 49ers turnovers.

The 49ers managed to get on the scoreboard, however, after backup running back Alfred Morris ripped off a 51-yard rush against a Rams defense that was allowing 5.0 yards per carry entering Week 17. That helped set up a 30-yard field goal by kicker Robbie Gould to make things 14-3.

Mullens was having issues with pressure for nearly the entirety of the first half, particularly from defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who recorded a first-half sack against an underperforming Niners offensive line. And at the 12:45 mark of the second quarter, Mullens tossed his third interception of the game -- a pass intended for wide receiver Richie James, which was hauled in by Littleton for a pick-six touchdown to make it 21-3.

So far, Mullens is 11-of-19 for 125 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions over the first half, all for a passer rating of 55.7.

Cooks added on another Rams touchdown later in the second quarter, capping off an 11-play, 86-yard drive to put L.A. up 28-3. Yet the Niners were able to answer back the following drive, as Mullens found wide receiver Richie James for a 9-yard touchdown to make it 28-10.

The Rams managed a field goal to go up 31-10 as time ran out in the first half.

During the morning's first slate of games, the Dallas Cowboys managed to come from behind and beat the New York Giants, while the Atlanta Falcons kicked a game-winning field goal over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Both games ensured the 49ers would, at worst, get the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft over the New York Jets (losers to the New England Patriots) if they wind up losing in L.A.

Tight end George Kittle needed 99 yards to break the Patriots' Rob Gronkowski's record for receiving yards by a tight end in a single season (1,327). So far, Kittle has three catches for 29 yards.

Late in the second half, left guard Laken Tomlinson had his right knee hit by Fowler, and it looked like an obvious hyper-extension but could be much worse. Tomlinson came off the field on a cart, suggesting it could be much more serious than just a hyper-extension. Joshua Garnett, who has scantly seen field time this season, came in to replace Tomlinson.

San Francisco will kick off to start the second half.
  • Peter Panacy
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    Peter Panacy has been writing about the 49ers since 2011 for outlets like Bleacher Report, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, and is occasionally heard as a guest on San Francisco's 95.7 FM The Game and the Niners' flagship station, KNBR 680. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to his Twitter account.