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49ers survive desperate Rams in Week 16, win 34-31

Dec 21, 2019 at 8:24 PM--

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1st 2nd 3rd 4th Tot
LA 7 14 7 3 31
SF 3 21 0 10 34

The San Francisco 49ers managed to squeak by Saturday night against the visiting Los Angeles Rams, who surely threatened head coach Kyle Shanahan's playoff-seeding prospects Saturday night at Levi's Stadium.

San Francisco's 24-21 first-half lead didn't exactly reflect the quality of play on the field, which looked almost entirely in Los Angeles' favor. Over the first two quarters, the Rams dominated the time of possession by seven full minutes, using running back Todd Gurley to score twice and a 10-yard pass touchdown from quarterback Jared Goff to wide receiver Brandin Cooks.

Head coach Sean McVay's offense looked to completely work over the Niners defense for much of the first half, yet the 49ers got back into the game via touchdowns by wide receiver Deebo Samuel and running back Raheem Mostert. Those plays seemed good enough to put head coach Kyle Shanahan's squad in good position heading into halftime with a four-point deficit.

But then linebacker Fred Warner happened, intercepting Goff and returning the pick 46 yards for a late second-quarter touchdown:

Goff was 27-of-46 for 323 yards, two touchdowns against one interception for an 85.7 passer rating. His counterpart, Jimmy Garoppolo, went 16-of-27 for 248 yards, a touchdown against two interceptions and a passer rating of 71.2. Garoppolo's first interception, intended for wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, was picked off by Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who had more than a few "friendly" conversations with Sanders during the game.

San Francisco entered the game with the NFL's best third-quarter scoring offense in the league, so one would have figured the Warner score before the half would only serve as a huge boost for the 49ers starting off the second half on that side of the ball. Instead, it was the Rams who scored first after the half, with Goff hitting wide receiver Cooper Kupp for a 22-yard touchdown to make it 28-24.

The 49ers, meanwhile, were held off the scoreboard in the third quarter.

Garoppolo and the lack of offensive production was a theme for much of the game, as the Niners were held to just 334 all-purpose yards. The team's leading pass catcher was tight end George Kittle, who had five grabs for 79 yards. While the 49ers defense was the major liability in the first half, the offense was almost entirely ineffective after halftime. And a lot of that stemmed from pass protection up front, as the Niners clearly missed center Weston Richburg and right guard Mike Person, the latter not starting due to a neck injury. Garoppolo was sacked six times, while Goff wasn't sacked at all.

The Niners managed to find some offensive rhythm in the fourth quarter, though, and were aided by an additional 15 yards on an unnecessary roughness call against the Rams for a hit on No. 2 tight end Ross Dwelley after he picked up 25 yards. That led to Garoppolo's go-ahead touchdown pass to Kittle to make it 31-28:

Now the question was whether or not San Francisco's defense could hold.

It didn't seem so, as the Rams used a number of nice passes from Goff to move into Niners territory. Safety Marcell Harris nearly picked off Goff, which would have put the 49ers in a much better position to preserve their lead, except Harris dropped the would-be interception. The Rams subsequently were able to kick a game-typing field goal to knot things up at 31 points apiece with 2:30 remaining in regulation.

The 49ers' final drive, though, didn't exactly go too well. Garoppolo was sacked multiple times, which required two successful conversions on 3rd-and-16 plays. The first went to wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, then Sanders burned Ramsey for 46 yards to get into field-goal range.

That gave kicker Robbie Gould a chance to convert on his 33-yard field-goal attempt as time expired, sending the 49ers to 12-3 on the season.

LA Team Stats SF
24 First Downs 19
395 Total Yards 334
323 Pass Yards 215
72 Rush Yards 119
7 (43) Penalties (Yds) 3 (26)
1 Turnovers 2
6 (44) Punts (Avg) 5 (44)
32:21 Time of Pos. 27:39

Rams Player Stats
Passing Cmp/Att Yds TDs INTs
J. Goff 27/46 323 2 1
Rushing Att Yds TDs Lg
T. Gurley 15 48 2 8
J. Goff 4 12 0 5
D. Henderson 2 7 0 7
R. Woods 2 6 0 6
M. Brown 1 -1 0 -1
Receiving Rec Yds TDs Lg
T. Higbee 9 104 0 20
R. Woods 8 117 0 29
B. Cooks 4 39 1 16
C. Kupp 4 31 1 22
J. Reynolds 2 32 0 24
Fumbles Fum Lost Rec Yds
N. Webster 1 0 1 0
C. Kupp 1 0 0 0
D. Edwards 0 0 1 0
Kicking FG Lg XP Pts
G. Zuerlein 1/2 52 4/4 7
Punting No Avg I20 Lg
J. Hekker 6 44.3 3 52
Kickoff Returns No Avg TDs Lg
N. Webster 1 27 0 27
Punt Returns No Avg TDs Lg
N. Webster 2 0 0 1
Defense T-A Sck INTs FF
C. Littleton 6-1 0 0 0
E. Weddle 6-0 0 0 0
D. Fowler 5-1 2.5 0 1
T. Rapp 4-1 0 0 0
J. Ramsey 4-0 0 1 0
S. Joseph 2-2 0 0 0
T. Reeder 2-1 0 0 0
A. Donald 1-2 1.5 0 0
D. Williams 2-0 0 1 0
M. Brockers 2-0 0 0 0
M. Fox 1-0 1 0 0
S. Ebukam 1-0 1 0 0
N. Robey 1-0 0 0 0
M. Christian 1-0 0 0 0

49ers Player Stats
Passing Cmp/Att Yds TDs INTs
J. Garoppolo 16/27 248 1 2
Rushing Att Yds TDs Lg
R. Mostert 11 53 1 16
T. Coleman 5 33 0 12
D. Samuel 3 28 1 19
J. Garoppolo 4 5 0 7
Receiving Rec Yds TDs Lg
G. Kittle 5 79 1 36
D. Samuel 4 31 0 18
E. Sanders 3 61 0 46
K. Bourne 2 29 0 18
R. Dwelley 1 25 0 25
K. Juszczyk 1 23 0 23
Fumbles Fum Lost Rec Yds
J. Garoppolo 1 0 2 0
B. Garland 1 0 0 -1
Kicking FG Lg XP Pts
R. Gould 2/2 33 4/4 10
Punting No Avg I20 Lg
M. Wishnowsky 5 43.8 4 52
Kickoff Returns No Avg TDs Lg
R. James Jr. 1 81 0 81
Defense T-A Sck INTs FF
D. Greenlaw 9-4 0 0 0
F. Warner 8-3 0 1 0
M. Harris 4-3 0 0 0
K. Williams 4-1 0 0 1
A. Armstead 4-0 0 0 0
R. Sherman 4-0 0 0 0
K. Street 3-0 0 0 0
A. Witherspoon 2-0 0 0 0
J. Ward 1-1 0 0 0
A. Al-Shaair 1-1 0 0 0
S. Day 1-1 0 0 0
S. Thomas 1-0 0 0 0
D. Buckner 1-0 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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