Well, unfortunately, if I say “Stop me if you’ve heard this one before,” you’ll have to stop me. The Rams played the 49ers twice in the first 12 weeks of the season and if they could have flipped their scores against Kyle Shanahan’s 6-10 squad, Los Angeles could have been 9-2 and in the front position for the NFC’s number one seed.
I guess in that case, at least the Rams forced the 49ers to trade their 2022 and 2023 first round picks for an unproven quarterback who wasn’t one of the top-two prospects in the draft. Although, if the Rams had won both of those games, then would they have traded their own 2022 and 2023 first rounders for a quarterback too?
That’s how strangely important these two games between the Rams and 49ers potentially were last season. What do they have in store for us next?
Week 1 - Win over the Cowboys
Week 2 - Win over the Eagles
Week 3 - Loss to the Bills
Week 4 - Win over the Giants
Week 5 - Win over a Football Team
Week 6 - Loss to the 49ers
Week 7 - Win over the Bears
Week 8 - Loss to the Dolphins
Week 9 - BYE
Week 10 - Win over the Seahawks
Week 11 - Win over the Bucs
Week 12 - (7-3) Los Angeles Rams vs (4-6) San Francisco 49ers
Important Personnel Notes
- One of Nick Mullen’s eight starts for the 49ers, the previous game against the Rams was started by Jimmy Garoppolo
- The first start of rookie right guard Colton McKivitz for San Francisco
- Without Brandon Aiyuk, Richie James gets 63 snaps at wide receiver for the 49ers
- Without George Kittle, Ross Dwelley plays 44 snaps, Jordan Reed plays 31 at tight end
- The 49ers played fullback Kyle Juszczyk for 31 snaps, more than any running back
- Cornerbacks K’Waun Williams and Ahkello Witherspoon were inactive, giving more time to Tarvarius Moore in the secondary. Richard Sherman was activated, playing his first snaps since Week 1
- Malcolm Brown led Rams running backs with 25 snaps, followed by 20 for Darrell Henderson and 17 for Cam Akers
- Troy Reeder plays 69 of 72 defensive snaps with Micah Kiser on IR
- Nick Scott played a season-high 36 snaps and there were no injuries at safety, which is a point I emphasize because not everyone knows that sometimes the Rams use three safeties more than they use four linebackers
- David Long got 22 snaps, his second-highest total of the season
The first time the Rams lost to the 49ers in 2020, San Francisco was about as healthy as they’d be all year and we already know that Shanahan can coach them to the Super Bowl when they’re injury-free. Last year’s 49ers went 6-10 but a healthy Garoppolo and Nick Bosa might have been enough for them to make the playoffs and to disrupt LA’s chances of making the playoffs at the same time.
However, this version of the 49ers was battered and beaten and at half-strength and they still beat a Rams team coming off of back-to-back victories against the Seahawks and Buccaneers. What happened?
LA immediately forces a three-and-out but as they driving towards midfield on offense, Brown fumbles the ball back to San Francisco at the 49-yard line.
The following highlight is not of this Malcolm Brown play, but oddly I came across a forced fumble by Troy Reeder back at Delaware in 2017 and his teammate — a different Malcolm Brown — returned it for a touchdown. Hell, when is Troy Reeder ever going to get this highlight re-lived? Let’s give him a break and show it because this game isn’t going to be as satisfying.
Touchdown Brown! @troyreeder9 forces the fumble and Malcolm Brown returns it 45 yards for the score. #BlueHens within three, 20-17. pic.twitter.com/RGaBtLKv1n— Delaware Football (@DelawareFB) October 8, 2017
Luckily for LA, on the next drive, Jordan Fuller — who just seems to know what the fuck he is doing on a football field — intercepts Nick Mullens. This is Fuller’s third pick in two weeks.
Jordan Fuller(INT)- 3rd of the Season #Rams #49ers— NFL Turnovers (@nflturnovers) November 29, 2020
Fuller made so many key plays as a rookie that it’s hard to imagine him not continuing down that path in 2021, though now he’ll need to be the veteran leader of that group instead of John Johnson.
After Jared Goff found Robert Woods for a gain of 30, and Matt Gay hit a 48-yard field goal to give the Rams the first lead of the game, San Francisco went out and proved that Deebo Samuel is a scary foe for the next however-many years. Mullens completed two short passes to Samuel and they went for a combined 59 yards, putting the Niners at the 8.
Raheem Mostert ran it in to give the 49ers a 7-3 lead midway through the first quarter.
#49ers play the #Rams in 13 days, coming off a much needed bye week&will/should be getting back:— . (@deactivateddue) November 16, 2020
Jeff Wilson#NFCWest WK-11 matchups:#Seahawks ️#Cardinals(#TNF)
Rams ️#Bucs(#MNF)pic.twitter.com/YfK0oAr60U https://t.co/KzRTNrjlpW
On the next drive, LA coughed it up one first down again, this time with Goff throwing a pick right to Sherman.
Bruh you're playing against a defense that's lost like 75% of its starters, how are you this bad pic.twitter.com/4ttsiGBPau— Johnny Kinsley (Joe Buck Hive CEO) (@Brickwallblitz) November 30, 2020
But the Rams were bailed out of the mistake again, this time with Sebastian Joseph-Day forcing a fumble on running back Jeff Wilson on the next play.
And the very next play... Rams get it back on the Jeff Wilson Jr. fumble. pic.twitter.com/f0q86FvsAU— Upside Play (@TheUpsidePlay) November 29, 2020
The two teams then exchanged six punts, leading to the final two minutes before halftime. At that point, the Rams crossed into SF territory, but Goff fumbled it (again, first-and-10) and it was recovered by Kerry Hyder. On the Niners final drive of the half, they attempted a 50-yard field goal from Robbbie Gould, but it was no good, leaving the score at 7-3 at the break.
The first half included three Rams turnovers — two by Jared Goff — and two 49ers turnovers, plus a missed field goal. LA held San Francisco to 25 yards or less on seven of their eight first half drives, but also allowed a 75-yard touchdown drive. And offensively, the Rams had seven drives, but none went longer than 44 yards.
These are the games you have to remember when thinking about why the Rams traded for Matthew Stafford and the cost of making that transaction.
It’s tough to be better than the 49ers, who weren’t even the team that won the NFC West last season, when Jared Goff does this over two games: 38-of-69, 396 yards, two touchdowns, three interceptions, one fumble lost, and your team scored a total of 36 points.
But LA was only down 7-3 and they got the ball to start the second half. Goff returned to the field and immediately threw a touchdown. To San Francisco defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw.
Javon Kinlaw con un Pick 6 de Los 49ers. Y amplían ventaja con una gran defensiva que no ha dejado jugar a los Carneros de los Angels. Football @nfl— Superbetsmexico (@superbetsmexico) November 29, 2020
Dondeapostar https://t.co/4X1noheoWo pic.twitter.com/OtQyYqGRLY
Yeah, there are going to be other plays you can point to because not only was there a lot of time left, but the Rams actually took the lead in the fourth quarter. But this was a monumental swing to start the second half and Goff’s third turnover was too reminiscent of his other games where he didn’t do well enough to protect the football.
This had to be right there as the “final straw” for Sean McVay.
Shout out to Troy Hill’s fumble recovery touchdown:
Troy Hill recoge ese balón suelto y se va hasta la zona de anotación para regresar a Los Carneros al juego. Football @nfl— Superbetsmexico (@superbetsmexico) November 29, 2020
Dondeapostar https://t.co/4X1noheoWo pic.twitter.com/MrRNiyQBNH
Good luck in Cleveland, Troy.
This is also the game where McVay said, “Fuck it, this is ridiculous, why is Malcolm Brown playing so much more than Cam Akers?” Akers had this run, then scored a touchdown to put the Rams up a few points. The next week, he played 52 snaps and didn’t look back.
Jason Verrett’s chase down on Cam Akers was a great example of his pure determination #49ers | #FTTB— OurSF49ers (@OurSf49ers_) March 23, 2021
: @thecheckdown pic.twitter.com/5sEOGO15lK
But maybe as worse as the turnovers was the fact that Goff couldn’t help the offense get important first downs in the fourth quarter. The 49ers tied the game 20-20 with 3:15 left, then McVay put it all in Goff’s hands: five straight pass attempts resulted in a punt with 2:10 remaining.
Deebo Samuel gained 24 yards on third-and-2.
Juszczyk gained two yards on fourth-and-1.
Jalen Ramsey was called offsides on fourth-and-2.
Robbie Gould hit a 42-yard field goal as time expired.