Week 17 Tale of the Tape: San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams
- QuarterbackThe 49ers have gotten a huge boost from Jimmy Garoppolo, as the team has won four consecutive games since the former Patriot became the team’s starter. Garoppolo looks like a polished and talent performer, and he has excellent command of the San Francisco offense. He is completing 69.1 percent of his passes and he has an impressive 8.74 yards per pass.The Rams have had a wonderful season and they are thinking about their first playoff game after clinching the NFC West title. Jared Goff is one of the most improved players in the league, and he is clearly in the top 10 at the quarterback position. Goff has thrown for 3,804 yards with 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
- OffenseEven when the Niners were getting little out of the quarterback position earlier this season, running back Carlos Hyde was running hard and looking like a dangerous performer. He has rushed for 850 yards and six touchdowns, and while the Niners don’t have game-changing talent at the WR position, Trent Taylor, Marquise Goodwin and Garrett Celek have stepped up since Garoppolo became the starter.The Rams have gotten a huge lift from running back Todd Gurley, who has become a legitimate candidate for the MVP award. Gurley has been on fire in the last two weeks against Seattle and Tennessee, and he has 1,305 rushing yards, 788 receiving yards and 19 combined TDs. Rookie wideout Cooper Kupp is becoming a star, and ex-Bills Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins are dangerous.
- DefenseThe 49ers have plenty of soft spots on their defensive team, and that is likely to be an issue against a powerful and versatile offensive team like the Rams. The Niners are hoping that Reuben Foster and Solomon Thomas will develop into game-changing players, and both have had solid second halves to their season. The Niners simply don’t have an adequate pass rush at this point.The Rams have played well on the defensive side, but they face a major challenge this week from Garoppolo. They are going to have to pressure the Niners’ quarterback, and they have a pair of excellent pass rushers in Aaron Donald (11.0 sacks) and Robert Quinn (8.5 sacks). Alec Ogletree and Mark Barron are two of the best tackling linebackers in the NFL.
- Special TeamsThe 49ers have struggled on special teams for years, but they have had quite a bit of improvement this year and much of that is due to PK Robbie Gould. The former Bear has made 37-of-39 FG attempts, and punter Bradley Pinion has dropped 31 punts inside the opponents’ 20.The Rams got hit with a huge blow when they were forced to put Greg Zuerlein on injured reserve as a result of a bad back. The Rams had to go with Sam Ficken after the injury was revealed, and he lacks Zuerlein’s leg strength. Johnny Hekker is averaging 47.8 yards per punt.
The Niners have plenty of momentum and they will fight for 60 minutes to try and create additional momentum for the 2018 season. This game should be tight for 60 minutes.