There’s no other way to put it - the last two weeks have been ugly for LA. A silver lining is that the Rams are headed to a Week 11 bye and have an opportunity to catch their breath before they enter the second half stretch. With the loss of receiver Robert Woods and the addition of stars Von Miller and Odell Beckham, Jr., a bye might just be what the doctor ordered.
Which individual performances contributed to the Rams’ second straight primetime collapse?
Cooper Kupp, WR
Wide receiver Cooper Kupp might have been the only offensive player that showed up ready to play against the 49ers. While he had multiple inopportune drops, I can recall at least one where Matthew Stafford’s ball placement left a lot to be desired.
Kupp finished Monday night having converted 13 targets for 11 receptions and 122 yards. It wasn’t the most efficient night for the star receiver, but he was a bright spot in an offensive that was lacking for production.
Jalen Ramsey, CB
Much has been made of the Rams’ star power in recent weeks. In the second half when LA’s defense needed to make a play to steal the momentum, you could feel Jalen Ramsey’s presence. Ramsey was close to making Jimmy Garoppolo regret targeting him on multiple occasions, but ultimately came up just short of making a play.
Ramsey was also flagged for a facemask penalty that extended a drive for the 49ers. This is the corner’s third big penalty in the last two games. While Ramsey’s role as an emotional leader of the team is admirable, it’s important to remain disciplined.
Two major pass breakups by Jalen Ramsey on this drive, one on second down and just now on first down. But if the defense can't get off the field on third down, those will get lost.— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) November 16, 2021
Von Miller, OLB
Newly acquired Von Miller was another bright spot for LA defensively. While there were not many opportunities to rush the passer - San Francisco passed the ball less than 20 times - Miller was an effective run defender and made a few plays in the 49ers backfield.
While Garoppolo is not a threat as a scrambler, you can see how Miller’s athleticism and presence could translate against dual-threat quarterbacks. Scrambling passers such as Kyler Murray, Ryan Tannehill, and Carson Wentz have caused the Rams issues so far this season.
Von Miller beating George Kittle to make the tackle. pic.twitter.com/18S88WSs2X— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) November 16, 2021
Ben Skowronek, WR
Rookie Ben Skowronek was not close to lighting up the scoreboard for Los Angeles on Monday night, but the young receiver certainly has the look and feel of a Rams pass catcher. Perhaps the most notable part of Skowronek’s performance is that the Rams used him as a lead blocker in the running game on a handful of occasions - and his larger frame lends itself well to this aspect of his game.
Skowronek was target 5 times and finished with 1 reception for 8 yards, but Stafford had a number of egregious misses while throwing in the rookie’s direction. The most memorable miss was in the end zone where the Skowronek was open for a touchdown but Stafford’s pass was too high.
The bottom line is that is it difficult for seventh round draft selections to even make the team, and Skowronek was a starter tonight and will be a borderline WR3 until Odell Beckham, Jr. eventually takes over the role. It seems the Rams have found a possible gem here.
Troy Reeder, ILB
While inside linebacker Troy Reeder can struggle at times in the passing game, he is an effective player against the run. Against the 49ers Reeder notched a team-leading 11 total tackles and had a big tackle for loss that got San Francisco off-schedule. This is the type of game that lends itself to Reeder’s skillset.
“Modern Throwbacks” with Royal Pants
It’s fair to start questioning why the Rams don’t consider the “modern throwback” jerseys as part of their primary uniform. The team looked fantastic in this uniform combo under the primetime lights, but unfortunately LA’s performance on the field did not hold up its end of the bargain.
Matthew Stafford, QB
As Los Angeles heads into their bye there will be plenty of time to take a deeper dive into Stafford’s first 10 games as a Ram.
A significant concern moving forward is that LA’s three losses all seem to have a common thread - early turnovers and an inability to right the ship. In three losses Stafford has a touchdown to interception ratio of 4:5, which on the surface suggests that he’s part of the problem. The Arizona Cardinals game may be the exception to this, but Sony Michel fumbled in Rams territory to set up a scoring opportunity for the Cardinals. While most were dropped and one negated by a 49ers penalty, Stafford could have realistically thrown 5-6 interceptions in Week 10 alone.
The star quarterback was brought in to prevent performances like the one we witnessed on Monday night, but now we are left wondering if there is more to it. The Rams trading for Stafford was supposed to put an end to the occasional offensive collapse and turnover fest that we saw in San Francisco and versus the Tennessee Titans - but it keeps happening.
Tyler Higbee, TE
Tight-ends can’t be attributed interceptions on the box score, but Tyler Higbee will have as great as an example as you’ll ever find of this - dropping a screen pass and essentially handing the ball over to 49ers safety Jimmie Ward.
Higbee also had a soul crushing drop on third and long with no one around him as the Rams were attempting to mount a comeback attempt.
The tight-end did score a touchdown, but the bad outweighed the good significantly in San Francisco.
Raheem Morris, DC
Coming into the game the 49ers’ approach should have been obvious - they were going to pound the football on the ground and keep the game out of Garoppolo’s hands. As has been the case in recent matchups between the two teams, San Francisco leaned heavily on Deebo Samuel - who notched 133 total yards and 2 touchdowns on Monday night.
The defense really allowed 24 points when you consider Stafford’s pick-six, which would get the job done on most nights; however, when you play ball control teams like the 49ers and Titans the margin for error is ever so slim.
The most frustrating part of the defense’s performance is that you knew San Francisco was going to try to get the ball to its two best players, Samuel and George Kittle, but LA still did not seem to have answers. Why was Ramsey not assigned to either Samuel or Kittle for most of the game?
Rams paying $25M for Jalen Ramsey to *not* cover SF’s best WR.— Sosa Kremenjas (@QBsMVP) November 16, 2021
Raheem ain’t got not one damn clue what’s going on out there.
Sean McVay / Offensive Playcalling
The most shocking statistic of the night? The Rams only ran the ball 9 times (excluding Stafford’s kneel down to end the game). The reluctance to commit to the ground game was not due to an ineffectiveness in this area as Darrell Henderson averaged 6.2 yards per attempt on 5 carries and Sony Michel averaged 5.0 yards per attempt on 4 carries.
On a night where Stafford was inaccurate and putting the ball in harm’s way often, the lack of attempts in the running game is a real head scratcher.
McVay also should shoulder a significant amount of blame for this loss, as we had grown accustomed to these types of offensive performances with Jared Goff at the helm. The problem is that Goff is in Detroit and these outings are becoming more and more regular.
Darious Williams, CB
Corner Darious Williams was a reliable player for the Rams defense last year, but his play has significantly fallen off in 2021. Williams has recently dealt with an ankle injury that caused him to miss 3 games, which may be an explanation as to why he is not playing up to his usual standard.
Regardless, Williams has looked physically outmatched the last two weeks - and he gave up an easy touchdown in coverage against Kittle in this game. The veteran corner’s contract expires after this season, and there have been talks of the Rams wanting to extend him; however, Williams’ play of late should make LA weary of committing to him long-term.
Terrell Lewis, OLB
Second-year linebacker Terrell Lewis has had issues drawing offsides penalties in recent weeks, in what has become a concerning trend for the young player. Lewis will have limited opportunities moving forward now that Miller has joined the team, and penalties in those few chances are likely to keep him sidelined until he can turn things around.