Rams Need a Win against a Remade 49ers Team
October 10, 2019
Don't look now folks... but the undefeated San Francisco 49ers are bringing their winning brand to the L.A. Memorial Coliseum this Sunday to take on a wayward Los Angeles Rams team. After losing 30-29 on a missed Greg Zuerlein field goal to the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday Night Football, the third place Rams are suddenly searching for that dynamic offense that shook up the NFL for the past two seasons under head coach Sean McVay.
"The important thing for us is obviously this isn't where we want to be sitting at after five games, but we've got the ability to right this ship," said McVay putting a positive spin on the team's two-game losing streak, the second of his coaching career.
"The only way we can do that is just by staying in the moment and finding a way to get healthy, get ourselves recharged and refreshed and have a great week of preparation leading into the Niners game."
The 49ers completely overwhelmed Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns on Monday Night Football, 31-3. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, steadily developing under head coach Kyle Shanahan. Against the Browns, Garoppolo completed 29 of 29 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns. The team combined to rush for 275 yards on 40 carries and two touchdowns. The Rams needed a goal line stand to defeat the Browns in Week 3.
After the Rams offense (and defense) had been rudely exposed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 4, the Seattle Seahawks continued to add to L.A.'s woes. Quarterback Russell Wilson gave the Seahawks a 14-6 lead midway through the second quarter after the Rams failed to capitalize on two early red zone possessions, prompting Greg Zuerlein to kick two field goals for a 6-0 lead.
The see-saw battle continued with the Rams retaking the lead twice in the third quarter. Each time Seattle was able to rally Seattle as Wade Phillips defense failed to contain Wilson when the L.A. needed it the most. He drove the Seahawks to two fourth quarter scores, both 75-yard marches. His five-yard toss to running back Chris Carson was the decider with 2:34 left in the game.
The Rams still had a chance to win the game when Goff drove the team to the Seahawks 26 yard line with 13 seconds on the clock, setting up Zuerlein for the likely game-winning 44-yard field goal. No such luck. The kicker who is referred to as Mr. Automatic pushed the kick just right of the goal post. It was not a kind ending for Zuerlein, arguably the Rams MVP since the franchise returned to L.A. in 2016.
For the second consecutive game the Rams failed to tie or win the game on their last possession with excellent field position. Both times the Goff failed to produce a touchdown when it mattered. It was a dismal loss that knocked a little more luster off of McVay's lauded game plan, play-calling and game management.
McVay remained confident of the team's plight.
"The Tampa game is such an outlier because you fall behind. You're really almost in two-minute mode the majority of the game, even though we ended up catching back up. So, you get so skewed on the numbers there where it's like a 68-to-11 balance."
Against the Seahawks the imbalance remained the same as quarterback Jared Goff threw the ball 49 times for 395 yards while running back Todd Gurley rushed 15 times for 51 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Malcolm Brown had one run for three yard, Goff ran once for one yard and wide receiver ran a jet-sweep for 27 yards.
In the past two losses, Goff has combined for 74 completions on 117 pass attempts for 912 yards, three touchdowns, four interceptions and one very costly fumble. In contrast, the team has rushed for 110 yards on 29 carries, four touchdowns and one fumble during the same games. The disparity in the Rams offensive balance raises the level of urgency as the 49ers are currently ranked third in the NFL in defense and fourth in offense.
The 49ers are only one of two undefeated teams remaining in the NFL, with the other being the New England Patriots. With Garoppolo fully recovered from last season's ACL injury, Shanahan has the Niners playing the best football in the league (outside of the Pats). So, the stage is set for Sunday's showdown... last season's NFC Champs against this season's NFC frontrunners.
"I've got a lot of respect for Kyle and I've learned so much from him, having worked with him. Really, it's about the Rams versus the 49ers and I think what we're interested in is figuring out let's put together a good plan in all three phases and figure out how to win a game as a team," said McVay.