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49ers blown out by Rams, lose 48-32 in turnover-filled Week 17

Dec 30, 2018 at 4:40 PM--

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1st 2nd 3rd 4th Tot
SF 3 7 7 15 32
LA 14 17 14 3 48

The San Francisco 49ers were completely outmatched by the playoff-bound Los Angeles Rams in Week 17, losing 48-32 in an ugly and turnover-filled contest in Southern California. But at least tight end George Kittle set a new NFL record.

The San Francisco 49ers needed four turnovers to avoid setting a new league low in that category in a non-strike season when they traveled to take on the Los Angeles Rams in Week 17.

Unfortunately, the Niners had those four turnovers in the first half, just on the wrong side of the ball.

San Francisco lost four turnovers on offense, including ones on its first three offensive possessions of the game. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk fumbled early, which led to a Rams touchdown. Then quarterback Nick Mullens tossed two interceptions on back-to-back drives, the first of which also led to a touchdown for L.A. Early in the second quarter, Mullens tossed a pick-six, which was run back for a touchdown by Rams linebacker Corey Littleton, who also intercepted one of Mullens' passes earlier in the game.

Mullens wasn't entirely responsible for those interceptions, however, as his offensive line had zero answers for the Rams' upfront pass rush. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald recorded a sack in the game and was a regular presence within the pocket, constantly forcing pressure on the young quarterback and forcing him to make ill-conceived throws.

Overall, Mullens was 23-of-33 for 282 yards, three touchdowns and the three interceptions, leading to a passer rating of 88.2. He also took three sacks during the game and nine quarterback hits.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan elected not to go with backup signal-caller C.J. Beathard despite Mullens' rough outing. Read into that what you might regarding either quarterback's future, but it isn't as if Beathard's presence would have changed the outcome of the game. And at least Mullens was able to find wide receiver Richie James for the Niners' lone first-half touchdown of the day en route to bouncing back from his early struggles:

Mullens also hit wide receiver Kendrick Bourne for a 2-yard touchdown with just under seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

San Francisco found itself in a 31-10 deficit at halftime. But not before losing running back Jeff Wilson to a shoulder injury and offensive guard Laken Tomlinson to a knee injury. Both players required a cart to be removed to the field, and neither returned to action. This did, however, lead the way to running back Alfred Morris having a big game. He finished with 16 carries for 111 yards.

His 1-yard score in the third quarter made the game slightly less embarrassing:

Additionally, linebacker Fred Warner came in and out of the game multiple times with injuries, and cornerback Richard Sherman sat out the second half.

As a result, the Rams were regularly able to target a Niners secondary made up almost entirely of second- and third-string players, and with massive results. L.A. managed 222 yards through the air, four pass touchdowns and also turned that into success on the ground, with running back C.J. Anderson rushing for 132 yards and a touchdown as well.

Tight end George Kittle needed 99 yards in the game to surpass the New England Patriots' Rob Gronkowski's 2011 record for most receiving yards by a tight end in a single season (1,327). Kittle did it, hauling in nine catches for 149 yards and besting the Kansas City Chiefs' Travis Kelce, who broke Gronk's record earlier in the day. Kittle did so after his 43-yard touchdown reception late in the fourth quarter:

Additionally, Kittle also set a franchise record for the most receptions by a tight end in a single season, so that's something to be relatively happy about despite the lopsided loss.

So the Niners will finish 2018 with a 4-12 record. On a positive note, though, wins by the Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons over the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, respectively, ensured San Francisco would have a lower strength of schedule than the New York Jets, who also finish the year 4-12. With that happening, the 49ers will hold onto the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft after the Arizona Cardinals fell in Seattle to the Seahawks.

Eventually, though, these Week 17 games need to be more about how San Francisco's playoff seeding winds up, not NFL Draft positioning. But that's another tale for another time at some unknown point down the road.

SF Team Stats LA
22 First Downs 28
391 Total Yards 377
264 Pass Yards 222
127 Rush Yards 155
5 (41) Penalties (Yds) 6 (57)
4 Turnovers 0
2 (44) Punts (Avg) 3 (43)
28:10 Time of Pos. 31:50

49ers Player Stats
Passing Cmp/Att Yds TDs INTs
N. Mullens 23/33 282 3 3
Rushing Att Yds TDs Lg
A. Morris 16 111 1 51
J. Wilson 3 9 0 7
K. Juszczyk 2 9 0 9
N. Mullens 1 -2 0 -2
Receiving Rec Yds TDs Lg
G. Kittle 9 149 1 43
K. Bourne 5 59 1 20
R. James 3 32 1 22
T. Taylor 3 17 0 9
K. Juszczyk 1 15 0 15
R. Dwelley 1 6 0 6
A. Morris 1 4 0 4
Fumbles Fum Lost Rec Yds
K. Juszczyk 1 1 0 0
Kicking FG Lg XP Pts
R. Gould 1/1 30 3/3 6
Punting No Avg I20 Lg
B. Pinion 2 49.5 1 55
Kickoff Returns No Avg TDs Lg
R. James 1 25 0 25
Defense T-A Sck INTs FF
F. Warner 9-5 0 0 0
E. Lee 7-3 0 0 0
C. Marsh 4-2 0 0 0
R. Blair 3-3 0 0 0
M. Harris 2-4 0 0 0
K. Williams 4-1 0 0 0
D. Buckner 3-1 0 0 0
A. Exum 2-2 0 0 0
S. Thomas 2-2 0 0 0
D. Jones 3-0 0 0 0
D. Reed 2-1 0 0 0
T. Moore 2-0 0 0 0
R. Sherman 1-1 0 0 0
A. Armstead 0-2 0 0 0
J. Taylor 1-0 0 0 0
M. Smith 1-0 0 0 0
G. Mabin 1-0 0 0 0

Rams Player Stats
Passing Cmp/Att Yds TDs INTs
J. Goff 15/26 199 4 0
S. Mannion 2/3 23 0 0
Rushing Att Yds TDs Lg
C. Anderson 23 132 1 13
J. Kelly 15 30 0 7
R. Woods 1 1 0 1
J. Goff 1 0 0 0
S. Mannion 2 -8 0 -4
Receiving Rec Yds TDs Lg
B. Cooks 5 62 2 21
J. Reynolds 4 55 2 29
C. Anderson 3 22 0 13
R. Woods 2 24 0 18
T. Higbee 1 36 0 36
J. Kelly 1 18 0 18
J. Mundt 1 5 0 5
Fumbles Fum Lost Rec Yds
J. Natson 1 0 1 0
J. Goff 1 0 0 -5
G. Everett 0 0 1 0
A. Talib 0 0 0 47
Kicking FG Lg XP Pts
G. Zuerlein 2/2 51 6/6 12
Punting No Avg I20 Lg
J. Hekker 3 43.3 2 48
Punt Returns No Avg TDs Lg
J. Natson 2 5 0 16
Defense T-A Sck INTs FF
J. Johnson 5-3 0 0 0
M. Barron 4-2 1 0 1
A. Talib 3-2 0 0 0
A. Donald 4-0 1 0 0
D. Fowler 4-0 0 0 0
C. Littleton 3-1 0 2 0
M. Christian 2-2 0 0 0
M. Brockers 0-4 0 0 0
N. Suh 1-2 0 0 0
S. Ebukam 1-2 0 0 0
B. Hager 0-3 0 0 0
M. Peters 2-0 0 0 0
T. Hill 2-0 0 0 0
B. Countess 1-1 0 1 0
J. Lawler 1-1 0 0 0
M. Longacre 1-0 1 0 0
N. Robey 1-0 0 0 0
R. Wilson 0-1 0 0 0
J. Franklin 0-1 0 0 0
  • Written by:
    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.

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