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Los Angeles Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers: Pro Football Focus game notes detail backups’ performances

Here’s how PFF saw the Rams’ season-ending loss.

Los Angeles Rams QB Sean Mannion throws a pass against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 17
Los Angeles Rams QB Sean Mannion throws a pass against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 17

Here are Pro Football Focus’ notes on the Los Angeles Rams’ 13-34 Week 17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

Give their Rams-specific account a follow on Twitter at @PFF_LARams.

Week 17 Rams Offensive Stats

The lone starter on the Rams' offensive line to play in Sunday's game was also the highest graded player on the offense. Right guard Jamon Brown earned his highest grade of the season with his 83.0, which was also the fifth highest grade among all guards in the Week 17 regular season finale. This was his third game giving up zero quarterback pressures through an entire game after giving up a season-high six the last time these two teams met in back in Week 3. Over the final three weeks of the season Brown is tied for 11th among all guards in pass blocking efficiency among with his 97.8, as well as, tied for ninth fewest quarterback pressures allowed with three.

In the first start of his career, wide receiver Mike Thomas hauled in three of his four targets to lead the Rams receivers in yards with 75. He earned an overall game grade of 74.4, 33rd among all receivers in Week 17. Thomas has been targeted only seven times in 2017, but has hauled in five of them for 93 yards, zero drops, and a passer rating of 113.7. His big catch came on his second target of 20 or more yards this season that was hauled in with one second left to go in the first half to set up a field goal. Thomas ran a total of 55 routes in 2016, averaging 0.67 yards per route run, meanwhile, he averaged almost a full yard more in 2017 with his 1.60 yards per route run on 58 routes.

Quarterback Sean Mannion's first career start saw him finish as the 15th highest graded quarterback with his 70.1 game grade. Mannion was looking to air it out in his first start, as shown by his four attempts of passes 20 or more yards in the air. He completed two of those passes, with one being dropped, for 76 yards, 75.0 adjusted completion percentage (second highest), and a passer rating of 95.8 (tied for fifth among quarterbacks). While Mannion was under pressure at the 26th lowest rate in Week 17 (18.9 percent of dropbacks) he owned the highest sack percentage by being sacked on three of those 37 dropbacks for a sack percentage of 42.9.

With a lot of the starters resting in the regular season finale, many thought that Tavon Austin would show up in a big way. Austin only played 24 snaps in Sunday's game against the 49ers, finishing with an overall game grade of 62.7. He carried the ball only four times but was able to generate 24 yards while forcing two missed tackles and adding three catches for 14 yards. Austin finishes his 2017 season with 59 rushing attempts for 270 yards and nine forced missed tackles. He gained 117 of those yards after the contact, which is impressive for his size. This season ends with Austin gaining his fewest yards from scrimmage in a single season with his 317 yards, though he finishes the season with a much higher grade (64.4) than his 2016 season (48.7).

Making his first start of the season, running back Malcolm Brown had to make his own room in order to get things going on the ground. He carried the ball 14 times for only 54 yards, but his two forced missed tackles and 34 yards after contact showed how little room there really was out there. His 2.43 yards after contact per attempt ranked 14th among the 23 qualifying running backs in Week 17. Perhaps the most positive aspect of his performance was his 75.3 pass blocking grade, which he earned by allowing zero quarterback pressures on five pass blocking plays. Something he had struggled with prior in the first two weeks of the season, giving up two quarterback pressures on eight pass blocking plays.

​​Week 17 Rams Defensive Stats

The highest graded player on the Rams in Week 17 was also the highest graded cornerback in the entire league. Cornerback Kevin Peterson finished Sunday's game with an overall grade of 93.1 and possibly earning a start should teammate Troy Hill remain out with a concussion. Peterson played 30 coverage snaps against the 49ers, being targeted five times. He intercepted two passes and defended two others while allowing only one catch for 14 yards. His 0.0 passer rating when targeted was the lowest of Week 17 among all cornerbacks, while he averaged 30 coverage snaps in between receptions allowed. He was also willing to get dirty in the run game where he produced two defensive run stops, tied with only two other cornerbacks for most among the position. His 6.7 run stop percentage on 30 run snaps ranked second at his position for Week 17.

Filling in for inside linebacker Mark Barron, Bryce Hager earned the highest grade of his career with an 80.6. Despite playing 30 coverage snaps in Sunday's game, Hager was only targeted twice by quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, resulting in zero catches. Hager has now played 81 coverage snaps in 2017, giving up only one catch on four targets for 16 yards and breaking another up. On those 81 coverage snaps he is allowing an average of 0.20 yards per coverage snap. In the run game, Hager was able to produce two run stops for a run stop percentage of 6.7 on 30 run snaps. He finishes the 2017 keeping his streak alive of never missing a tackle in his career.

In his first game since Week 6, safety Cody Davis earned the 30th highest grade among safeties with a 78.0. He played 14 coverage snaps on Sunday while seeing only target, which he broke up. Despite spending most of his season on injured reserve, Davis played in a career-high 280 snaps in 2017 and earned the highest graded season of his career at 78.9. He especially excelled in the pass game where he allowed only two catches on 164 coverage snaps for 23 yards. His 0.14 yards allowed per coverage snap ranked sixth among 87 safeties with at least 161 snaps played this season. His play earned him the 12th highest coverage grade among all safeties in 2017 with his 87.1, just ahead of 13th ranked teammate John Johnson III at 86.9, respectively.

Rookie edge defender Samson Ebukam played his second most snaps in a game this season with his 56 in Week 17. He generated one quarterback pressure and generated a defensive stop. Ebukam's play in the pass game was very impressive as he dropped into coverage on 13 snaps and allowed zero catches into his coverage while seeing one target for a coverage grade of 75.5. With his one quarterback pressure generated in Sunday's game, Ebukam is tied for 11th among all rookie edge defenders in total quarterback pressures generated with 13. His 12 defensive stops rank tied for eighth among the 41 rookie edge defenders to have registered a snap in 2017 as well.

Despite only playing eight snaps in Sunday's regular season finale, veteran edge defender Connor Barwin was able to generate two quarterback pressures, bringing his total over the final three weeks of the season to 12 after recording only 18 in his first 11 games with the Rams. In those final three weeks Barwin is tied for 12th among all edge defenders with his 13.0 pass-rush productivity, while his 12 quarterback pressures are tied for 12th among edge defenders. The Rams had lacked an edge presence for a large portion of the season, but their duo in Connor Barwin and Robert Quinn are heating up, with those two combining for 28 total quarterback pressures over the last four games.