LA Rams beating the 49ers may depend entirely upon RB Cam Akers

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /
3 of 5
LA Rams News Cam Akers Jalen Ramsey
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Familiar pattern and panic sets in

By the time that the LA Rams offense was back on the field, the gap had closed to Rams 17 49ers 10 and the Rams were under pressure to make something happen on offense. They opted to go with a blocking heavy package to open the series, but the 49ers were ready. Two runs, an incomplete pass, and the Rams committed their three-and-out series at a horrific point in the game.

Making matters worse? The Rams defense was on the football field for 7:28 in the 49ers opening offensive drive to start the second half, and would only get a breather of 1:44 before they would be forced back onto the field.    Rams 17  49ers 10

After the 49ers scored to tie this one up Rams 17  49ers 17, the LA Rams offense was done with an ineffective running game and tried to open up the passing game. Three straight pass plays. The first resulted in a quarterback sack. The second resulted in an incomplete pass. The third resulted in an interception. Three pass plays, controlling the clock for 0:53, and gift-wrapping the football back to the 49ers defense at the 49ers 32-yard line. Rams 17 49ers 17

After the Rams defense held, the offense was back to six straight pass plays. Notice that as soon as the 49ers tied the game, the Rams immediately went exclusively to the passing game? Once more, the Rams offense consumed just 1:59 of game time, moved the ball just 13 yards, and were six plays before punting. Rams 17 49ers 17

Ramsey picks his spot to pick

The 49ers possessed the football once more for over five minutes and were knocking on the door for a go-ahead score when DB Jalen Ramsey intercepted Jimmy Garoppolo, getting the football back at the LA Rams 22-yard line. Rams 17 49ers 17

In this series, the LA Rams opened with two straight rushing plays before passing twice. After two completions, the Rams rush four more times, placing the football at third down and goal to go from the 49ers four-yard line. A third pass scored the touchdown, consumed 5:13 from the game clock, and restored the Rams to the lead.  Six rushes, three passes, and the LA Rams retook the lead.   Rams 24 49ers 17

The defense held, and the Rams got the ball back with 1:50 remaining on the game clock. The Rams rushed three times, as the 49ers knew they would, and with three timeouts, the Rams were only able to take 23 seconds off the clock before punting the ball back.

The 49ers scored a game-tying touchdown to send the game into overtime. Kicked a field goal to take the lead in overtime.  In their final possession, the Rams passed four times, rushed once, and then threw a game-ending interception. So what did we learn? Even though the Rams rushed 27 times for just 64 yards, the commitment of the Rams to the running game seemed to keep them in contention in this one. So how do we apply what we learned in Week 18, and use that knowledge to game plan better in the NFC Championship Game?