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3 plays that changed the game in 31-14 loss to the 49ers

Three plays that changed the game in the loss to the 49ers

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams fell to the San Francisco 49ers for the eighth consecutive game in the regular season. Despite a lopsided scoreline, the Rams missed several opportunities that could have helped them win this game.

In a game with such a low margin of error, it’s going to be decided by just a handful of plays. That’s always the case against the 49ers. Here are the three plays that changed the game

(13:38 - 3rd QTR), 2nd-and-9 from LAR 49

There are plays and missed opportunities during a game that don’t necessarily show up on the stat sheet. This was one of those plays. The 49ers were around midfield on their opening drive to start the second half. Raheem Morris brought Jalen Ramsey on a blitz and the Rams cornerback got his hands on the ball. Ramsey bobbled the ball three or four times before the ball hit the turf.

If Ramsey catches it, it’s very possibly a pick-six. At the very least it’s likely points for the offense that put them up 17-10 or 21-10. The 49ers ended up punting anyway, but instead of getting the ball in positive territory, the offense took over at their own 10-yard line.

Jimmy Garoppolo gave the Rams, specifically Ramsey, two opportunities on Sunday and they didn’t take them.

On the very next 49ers drive, Ramsey hit Christian McCaffrey and jarred the ball loose for a fumble. The Rams were unable to jump on it and no damage was done. A Rams recovery and the offense takes over at 29 yard line and, again, likely gets points. Instead, the 49ers drove down the field and scored a touchdown to take the lead.

Unlucky? Yes. However, good teams create their own luck.

(10:00 - 4th QTR), 3rd-and-3 from LAR 28

Trailing 24-14, the Rams offense desperately needed to make a play and respond. After going three-and-out on their previous drive, the offense finally got a first down and looked like they might be able to put something together. The offense went 5-for-6 in the first half on third down and a 3rd-and-3 seemed manageable.

Instead, in a crucial moment, tight end Tyler Higbee dropped the pass from Stafford. Higbee was wide open and had a ton of open space in front of him. He likely could have ran all the way to Sacramento with the amount of space in front of him. If Higbee makes the catch, it’s very possibly a one-score game and puts the defense in a better situation coming back on the field.

These are plays don’t necessarily show up in the win percentage outcomes. However, it’s a missed opportunity that the Rams have to be able to take against the 49ers.

(9:08 - 4th QTR), 2nd-and-7 from SF 30

The Rams absolutely could not give up a touchdown at this point in the game. The defense needed to get off the field quickly to give the offense some time to go down and score. Instead, Derion Kendrick’s aggressiveness got the best of him again.

Kendrick came down and bit on Brandon Aiyuk underneath. This allowed Ross Dwelley go come open over the top with nobody covering him. Garoppolo’s pass went for 56 yards and the 49ers scored a touchdown three plays later. The play officially put the game on ice and out of reach.