49ers at Rams: Statistics, predictions for final game of the 2017 season

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

With the Rams are resting at least five of their key starters, what does that mean for Week 17 against the 49ers?

The San Francisco 49ers have won four straight, and are looking to finish the season on a positive note, as they look forward to a more successful 2018 season. Whether the Los Angeles Rams win or lose this game changes nothing for them in the playoffs, except who they might play. Because of that, the Rams are resting all of their best players (Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, John Sullivan, Andrew Whitworth, and Aaron Donald. Does this mean that the Rams will lose the game? Not necessarily.

49ers are playing significantly better with Garoppolo at quarterback, but who have they played?

There is no question that Jimmy Garoppolo’s play has raised the level of play of the rest of the offense. Yet, they are still a young team, with most of their wins coming against struggling teams. Not to mention, San Francisco has won by small margins.

During their winning streak, they defeated the Chicago Bears (3-8 at the time) 15-14 thanks to a field goal with four seconds remaining after trailing the whole game.

The Houston Texans were 4-8 at the time of their meeting, and the 49ers played well, although Bill O’Brien’s squad came from behind to lead 23-16 in the middle of third quarter. The 49ers scored at the end of the third quarter to retake the lead and eventually won 26-16.

The 49ers defeated the Tennessee Titans 25-23, an 8-5 team who can actually still earn a spot in the playoffs. San Francisco was leading at halftime 16-10, but Tennessee came back to lead 23-22. The 49ers kicked a field goal as time expired to win 25-23. As impressive as this win was, the Titans last seven wins were against the Indianapolis Colts (twice), the Cleveland Browns, the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Texans. Their losses were to the Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Arizona Cardinals.

Perhaps that most surprising win was against the 10-4 Jacksonville Jaguars. The 49ers scored 16 unanswered points in the first quarter, but Jacksonville would eventually comeback to gain a three-point lead at one point in the third quarter. However, San Francisco took back the lead and never relinquished it, winning the game 44-33. The Jaguars were out of sync all day, missed an extra point near the end of the game during a comeback, and found they had clinched the division just after kickoff (because of the Rams win over the Titans).

Related Story: 3 predictions for Rams against 49ers in Week 17

Before naming Garoppolo the starter, the 49ers had lost nine straight games. Three of those games were against playoff teams while two games were against the Seattle Seahawks, but the rest of the losses were against the Arizona Cardinals (twice), Indianapolis Colts, Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys. Their only win in that period was against the hapless New York Giants.

Team offense, team defense

The 49ers rank 21st in the league in points at 19.8 per game. That number is 27.5 for the last four games. The Rams are ranked first in the league in scoring offense at 30.9 points per game.

The 49ers rank 26th in the league in point against, at 24.7 per game. In the last four games, they are at 12.5, and stand tied for eighth in scoring defense, as they allow 19.7 points per contest

They are 10th in passing and 23rd in rushing. (Brian Hoyer, 119 of 208, 1,245 yards, four touchdowns, four interceptions; C.J. Beathard 123 of 224, 1,430 yards, four touchdowns and six interceptions; Garoppolo, 100 of 145, 1,268 yards, five touchdowns, three interceptions). Los Angeles is eighth in the league in passing offense with 245.5 yards per contest and seventh in rushing with 123.4 yards per game. (Goff, 296 of 477, 3,804 yards, 28 touchdowns, seven interceptions).


The Rams’ defense has improved significantly since the first game against the 49ers, which was a high-scoring affair. Even without Donald, the rest of the line should have a good day. The backfield has improved their coverage on passing downs, and will have opportunities for an interception or two.

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The offense may struggle, however. While the backups to Whitworth and Sullivan have performed well throughout the year when needed, having both of them out may make it more difficult for both pass protection and rushing. Sean Mannion is an unknown, having never started a game in the regular season. The 49ers’ defense is young, but talented and could force him into mistakes. Malcolm Brown has done a more-than-serviceable job in relief of Gurley, but what kind of day he has will depend on the offensive line.

The other unknown is kicker Sam Ficken. He missed his first extra point and field goal last week, then made the rest of the extra points. His kickoffs were good. John Fassel is perhaps the best special teams coach in the league, and one would think that the choice of Ficken and his preparation will be sound. The rest of the special teams should perform as usual.

I don’t expect this to be as high-scoring of a game as many are predicting. The Rams’ defense will make it difficult on the 49ers, even with Garoppolo. Coach Sean McVay has shown that he knows how to get the best out of his players, and he has continuing to improve his game schemes and adjustments. That gives the Rams a chance get to 12-4. But with so many starters out along with the Rams having little to play for, the safe bet is that the 49ers win this game.