First Look: Rams Can Sweep NFC West with Win Over Niners

The Rams beat the Cardinals in Arizona and will look to finish the 2018 regular season campaign with two straight wins, as the San Francisco 49ers head to the L.A. Coliseum for the regular-season finale.

The Rams took care of the Niners in their first meeting, winning 39-10, by punishing quarterback C.J. Beathard and generating takeaways. With a win, the Rams can clinch a first-round playoff bye and sweep the NFC West.

Here’s an early look at the San Francisco 49ers (4-11):

Offense

  • Points Per Game: 27th (20.3)
  • Yards Per Game: 16th (358.5)
  • Rushing Yards Per Game: 13th (118.3)

Key Contributors

  • TE George Kittle: 15 G, 79 Rec, 1,228 Yds, 4 TDs
  • WR Kendrick Bourne: 15 G, 37 Rec, 428 Yds, 3 TDs
  • RB Alfred Morris : 11 G, 95 Att, 317 Yds, 1 TD

The banged-up 49ers offense is led by tight end George Kittle. Kittle leads the Niners with 1,228 yards receiving in 2018 and is No. 2 among all tight ends in both total receiving yards and yards receiving per game, with 81.9. San Francisco’s fifth-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft had five catches for 98 yards against the Rams Week 7.

With running back Matt Breida ruled out for Sunday’s game, it’ll be running back Alfred Morris carrying the ball for the 4-11 Niners. There’s a chance San Francisco will be without wide receiver Marquise Goodwin and his four touchdowns as he deals with a calf injury. Rookie wideout Dante Pettis has also been deemed out for the season’s final game.

Defense

  • Points Allowed Per Game: 24th (25.8)
  • Yards Allowed Per Game: 10th (344.6)
  • Passing Yards Allowed Per Game: 12th (234)

Key Contributors

  • DT DeForest Buckner: 15 G, 12.0 Sk, 63 Tkl, 17 TFL, 20 QBH
  • LB Fred Warner: 15 G, 1 FF, 109 Tkl, 6 PDs, 2 QBH, 3 TFL
  • S Antone Exum: 14 G, 1 Int, 1 FF, 1 TD, 6 PDs, 2 QBH, 1.0 Sk

San Francisco's leader on the defensive line, defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, went without a sack against the Rams in Week 7. Buckner has 12.0 sacks sprinkled throughout his third professional season and has been applying pressure to quarterbacks all season.

The 49ers defense has allowed offenses to move the ball in 2018, but rank No. 25 in points allowed, letting up an average of 25.8. The 49ers, however, fail to generate takeaways — the defense ranks last among all teams with just seven takeaways in 2018.

Quarterback

  • QB Nick Mullens: 7 G, 1,995 Yds, 10 TDs, 63.5 % Cmp, 7 Int

The Niners’ starter since Week 9, quarterback Nick Mullens has thrown 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions going 3-4 in seven starts.

The undrafted rookie out of Southern Mississippi enters Week 17 against the NFC West Champs completing 63.5 percent of his passes. Mullens threw three touchdowns in his Week 9 debut against the Raiders, and is yet to throw for fewer than 221 yards as a starter. The young quarterback threw for 414 yards against the Seahawks in his team’s Week 13 loss.

Last Week

  • L 14-9 vs. Chicago Bears

The 49ers lost to the Bears 14-9 in San Francisco last week. Mullens did not throw a touchdown in the game that could have contributed to a first-round bye clinching Sunday for the Rams.

Despite eventually falling short against the NFC North Champion Bears, the 49ers kept it close throughout — forcing two turnovers, a 5-11 conversion rate on third down, and just 325 yards of total offense against Chicago.

Previous Meeting

The Rams beat the 49ers 39-10 in their Week 7 meeting. The Rams were led by running back Todd Gurley and defensive tackle Aaron Donald on their respective sides of the line of scrimmage. Gurley scored two touchdowns rushing and one receiving in the rout, and Donald sacked quarterback C.J. Beathard four times.

The Rams defense held the 49ers to just 228 yards of total offense and forced four turnovers in the game.  

Head Coach

The 49ers are led by second-year head coach Kyle Shanahan. Shanahan is 10-21 (.323) since taking the job in San Francisco after spending nine seasons as an offensive coordinator in Houston, Washington, Cleveland, and Atlanta. Last season, Shanahan and the 49ers finished 6-10 — a four-win improvement on the previous season. Shanahan is 1-2 against head coach Sean McVay and the Rams leading the 49ers.

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