s
s
Sections
Search
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, nearly 1.5 million people used their mobile devices to visit our sites.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Wow! You read a lot!
Reading enhances confidence, empathy, decision-making, and overall life satisfaction. Keep it up! Subscribe.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Oops, you're out of free articles.
Until next month, you can always look over someone's shoulder at the coffee shop.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, we posted 390 stories about the fire. And they were shared nearly 137,000 times.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Supporting the community that supports us.
Obviously you value quality local journalism. Thank you.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Oops, you're out of free articles.
We miss you already! (Subscriptions start at just 99 cents.)
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
X

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Login

X

Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

LoginSubscribe

The 49ers won’t play for a playoff spot on Sunday against the L.A. Rams. They won’t even face the real Rams — Rams head coach Sean McVay announced on Tuesday that he will not play his starters. But the 49ers still have plenty to play for. They want to beat the Rams. They want to become the Rams.

The Rams represent what the 49ers aspire to, an elite team. After winning only four games last season, the Rams turned things around fast. They have won 11 games this season and are the champions of the NFC West.

The 49ers’ record is 5-10 and they’re in last place in the NFC West. But since Jimmy Garoppolo became the starting quarterback, they’ve won four games in a row, and last Sunday they beat the Jacksonville Jaguars, whose record is 10-5.

The 49ers may just be in the middle of their own quick turnaround.

“(The Rams) have accumulated a number of good players over the years,” 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said on a conference call with Bay Area reporters Tuesday morning. “I think the results aren’t that surprising when you look at some of the people they have on paper. They have the quarterback that they made the move for, and they got him a few weapons this year.”

Shanahan was referring to quarterback Jared Goff. The Rams traded up to take him with the first pick last season, and he struggled as a rookie. He threw only five touchdown passes in seven games and his passer rating was a mere 63.6.

This season, the Rams brought in a new head coach — McVay — and three new receivers — Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. Now, Goff is flourishing.

He has thrown 28 touchdown passes in 15 games, his quarterback rating is 100.5 — fifth highest in the league — and when he faced the 49ers earlier this season in a 41-39 Rams win, he posted a passer rating of 145.8.

“He’s not hesitant to let it rip,” Shanahan said. “He knows when to be aggressive. He knows when not to force it, too. He’s doing a much better job giving them some bigger plays, eliminating the turnovers and really getting the ball into some of his playmakers’ hands and letting them do a lot of the work.”

The Rams primary playmaker is their running back, Todd Gurley. He has been with the Rams for three seasons, but this season has been by far his best.

Gurley currently leads the league with 1,305 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns. He leads the Rams with 64 catches, too. And when he faced the 49ers Week 3, he gained 149 yards from scrimmage and scored three touchdowns.

“He’s as big a challenge that there is for anyone,” Shanahan said. “I thought he was one of the better guys I’ve ever studied coming out of college. He looked that way his first year, definitely. I know he had a little setback last year. But this year he looks like that exact same guy.

“He’s physical enough to run you over. He’s a big guy, but he’s got track-type speed, and he’s very smooth at getting in the right holes. He’s a very natural runner to where he always goes to the gap that people are out of position, and when he hits it, he so naturally can hit it at full speed that if guys aren’t closing, what could normally be a six-yard run for someone else, for him, it’s an 80-yard run, and he’s to the house fast.”

With Gurley and Goff leading the way, the Rams offense ranks first in the league in points scored.

The Rams defense is tough, too. It ranks eighth in fewest points allowed. And it has a player Shanahan considers one of the best in the NFL — defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

“You’ve got to make sure he doesn’t completely change and dominate (a) game with turnovers,” Shanahan said.

Running back Carlos Hyde is enthusiastic about the 49ers’ recent surge. He already predicted they will win the Super Bowl next season. He made this prediction in the 49ers’ locker room after Sunday’s win over the Jaguars.

“I haven’t spoken to Carlos yet,” Shanahan said, “but I don’t believe that’s the way you should think. You can’t control what’s going on next year. You only can worry about right now. I thought we had a good game on Sunday. We’ve got to make sure we focus on the Rams this week.

“When it comes to this offseason, you’re not sitting there focusing on Super Bowls and playoffs. You’re focusing on how to be the best person, best player, best coach you can be. And then everything else is just part of competing. But when you start focusing on things like that, you get humbled very fast.”

INJURY UPDATE

Rookie linebacker Reuben Foster suffered a stinger injury and rookie free safety Adrian Colbert suffered a sprained AC joint in his shoulder during Sunday’s win over the Jaguars. Both players will be limited during practice this week, but should play Sunday against the Rams, Shanahan said.

Foster and Colbert have sustained multiple injuries this season. Foster hurt his ankle, ribs and shoulder, and Colbert broke his thumb. “It’s something we definitely have to look into,” Shanahan said, “especially the amount that it’s happened to both of them.

“That’s one of the things that makes them (their) best, how hard they hit. But we’re going to have to put them in a better position to stay healthy.”

Show Comment