49ers takeaways: What we learned in last-second 34-31 win over Rams

49ers takeaways: What we learned in last-second 34-31 win over Rams


SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers’ entire regular season now boils down to one game.

The 49ers’ dramatic 34-31 victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday night at Levi’s Stadium sets up a well-defined Week 17 game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Jimmy Garoppolo hit Emmanuel Sanders for a 46-yard pass on a third-and-16 situation with less than a minute to play to set up Robbie Gould’s 33-yard field goal as time expired for the winning points.

Now, all focus shifts to next Sunday.

If the 49ers (12-3) can win at Seattle, they will earn the NFC West title and homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

If the 49ers lose, they will tumble to the No. 5 seed and, as a wild-card team, go on the road for the first week of the playoffs against the winner of the NFC East.

Here are three things you need to know about the 49ers from their Week 16 game against the Rams:

Offensive struggles in back-to-back weeks

The 49ers’ offense could not have looked much more crisp than in the team’s Week 14 shootout victory in New Orleans.

But in the two games since that 48-46 victory over the Saints, the offense has fallen flat. At least, on Saturday, the 49ers made the plays necessary for the victory.

The 49ers wanted to run the ball against the Rams on Saturday, but they could not string together enough first downs to ever get the ground attack going.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 348 yards and four touchdowns against the Saints, but he accounted for just 200 yards passing in the loss last week to the Atlanta Falcons.

On Saturday, Garoppolo was constantly harassed by the Rams’ pass rush. He was sacked six times. Garoppolo completed 16 of 27 passes for 248 yards with one touchdown. He was intercepted twice, after throwing just one interception in his previous four games.

Garoppolo’s 7-yard touchdown pass to George Kittle with 6:06 remaining in the fourth quarter gave the 49ers a 31-28 lead, but the Rams came back to tie it on Greg Zuerlein’s 52-yard field goal with 2:48 remaining.

Mostert rides wave of momentum

Raheem Mostert still has not started a game in his NFL career, but there’s no question he has become the team’s top back.

Mostert on Saturday had a 19-yard touchdown run in the first half to give him a rushing score in five consecutive games. He joined Joe “The Jet” Perry, Hugh McElhenny and Derek Loville as the only players in club history to achieve that streak. He has also scored an NFL-high six touchdowns from scrimmage since Week 12 after scoring just three times in his first 44 career games.

The 49ers did not get much going with their run game, but Mostert strengthened his grasp as the team’s top back with 53 yards on 11 rushing attempts.

Defense struggles but gets it together

The 49ers’ defense was elite when they met the Rams earlier this season.

On that mid-October day in Los Angeles, the 49ers’ pass rush was relentless. Rams quarterback Jared Goff completed just 13 of 24 passes for 78 yards. Goff was also sacked four times for 30 yards.

But the defense does not look the same. Injuries have taken a toll, and the club looks worn down.

On Saturday, Goff used a variety of rollouts and got the ball out quickly before the 49ers’ pass rush could get there. He completed 27 of 46 passes for 323 yards and two touchdowns. He was intercepted once.

The 49ers’ depth and talent on the D-line has taken a hit with season-ending injuries to Ronald Blair and D.J. Jones. In addition, edge rusher Dee Ford has played in just four snaps over the past five games due to a hamstring injury.

The result is that the 49ers are relying on DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead and Nick Bosa to play a lot. They appear to be wearing down, as the 49ers have registered just three sacks over the past three games entering Saturday.

Linebacker Fred Warner supplied the 49ers’ best play of the night in the closing minute of the first half. Bosa was applying pressure on Goff from the inside. Warner had a perfect read on Goff’s attempted swing pass to running back Malcolm Brown and stepped in front of him for the interception.

Not only did Warner register his first career interception late in the first half, he kept his footing and returned it 46 yards for a touchdown. The play gave the 49ers an improbable 24-21 lead at halftime.

Despite being outgained 240-159, and being dominated through much of the first half, Warner’s play helped the 49ers take the lead after 30 minutes.

NFL opt-out tracker: Every player who has declined to play 2020 season

NFL opt-out tracker: Every player who has declined to play 2020 season

As the sports world now is underway despite the coronavirus pandemic, the NFL is next up. There will be questions and concerns aplenty, too. 

Before training camp even begins, several players already have decided to opt out of the 2020 NFL season due to health concerns. That list is bound to grow as well.

Here is who will not be suiting up this season as the virus continues to run rampant. 

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, OG, Kansas City Chiefs

Duvernay-Tardif, who has a medical degree from and has been working as an orderly at a long-term care facility in his hometown of Montreal, Quebec during the pandemic, became the first player to opt out of the 2020 season. The Chiefs' starting offensive guard tweeted his reasoning on July 24. 

De'Anthony Thomas, WR/KR, Baltimore Ravens 

Return specialist De'Anthony Thomas voluntarily opted out of the season, the Ravens announced Monday. 

Chance Warmack, OG, Seattle Seahawks

NFL Media's Mike Garafolo reported Monday that Warmack has opted out of the season. Warmack, who signed with the Seahawks this spring, also sat out last season 

Maurice Canady, CB, Dallas Cowboys

Garafolo also reported Monday that Canady is opting out of the season as well. 

Marcus Cannon, OL, New England Patriots

Cannon, who battled non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2011, will not play in 2020.

Danny Vitale, FB, New England Patriots

Vitale and his wife recently had a baby, so the fullback will not be participating in the 2020 season.

Dont'a Hightower, LB, New England Patriots

Hightower, who has a two-week-old son, is choosing to protect his family's safety.

Brandon Bolden, RB, New England Patriots

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Tuesday that Bolden is one of five Patriots to opt-out of the season.

Patrick Chung, S, New England Patriots

Add another Patriot to the list.

Najee Toran, OL, New England Patriots

Make that six Patriots. 

Marquise Goodwin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

The former 49ers receiver announced he will not play this season after the birth of his daughter in February.

Andre Smith, OL, Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens announced Smith joined his teammate, De'Anthony Thomas, in opting out this year. 

Star Lotulelei, DT, Buffalo Bills

The Bills announced former first-round draft pick Star Lotulelei has opted out. 

Stephen Guidry, WR, Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys annoinced undrafted rookie Stephen Guidry has opted out.

Devin Funchess, WR, Green Bay Packers

Funchess announced on Instagram that he has opted out of the season. 

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Eddie Vanderdoes, DT, Houston Texans

The former Raiders defensive lineman will not play in 2020.

Cole Wick, TE, New Orleans Saints

The veteran tight end will not play this season, according to NFL Media's Tom Pelissero.

Michael Pierce, DT, Minnesota Vikings

Pierce, who signed a three-year, $27 million contract this offseson, is high-risk and has opted out.

Nate Solder, LT, New York Giants

Solder opted out of the season, citing family's health concerns.

Damien Williams, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

The star of Super Bowl LIV has opted out of the season, the Chiefs announced.

Chandler Brewer, C, Los Angeles Rams

Brewer played seven games with the Rams after signing as an undrafted free agent last summer.

“With my history with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, I am at high risk and will opt out of playing in the NFL this season,” Brewer said in a statement posted to the team’s website. “I would like to thank the Rams for their support and I look forward to getting back on the field in 2021 and beyond."

Marquise Lee, WR, New England Patriots

The USC product became a father for the first time in February, and cited his newborn daughter as a major factor in his decision.

"This is a big sit-down process I had, with me and my significant other, as far as family goes. The risk factor in which we believe that's going out there, it just wasn't worth it in a sense. Just too many unknowns," Lee told ESPN.com.

C.J. Mosley, LB, New York Jets

The four-time Pro Bowl linebacker is citing family health concerns as his reason for opting out, ESPN's Rich Cimini reported Saturday.

E.J. Gaines, CB, Buffalo Bills

Bills general manager Brandon Beane says the cornerback will sit out the 2020 season. 

Matt LaCosse, TE, New England Patriots

Matt LaCosse is the eighth Patriot to opt out of the season.

Da'Mari Scott, WR, New York Giants

The Giants were informed by Scott that he is opting out of the 2020 season.

Geronimo Allison, WR, Detroit Lions

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Sunday, citing a source, that Allison has decided to opt out of the season.

D.J. Killings, CB and Jeremiah Valoaga, DE, Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders announced Monday that Killings and Valoaga opted out of the season.

Travis Benjamin, WR, San Francisco 49ers

A day after general manager John Lynch said he didn't expect any 49ers to opt out of the season, Benjamin announced on Twitter that he was doing just that.

Shon Coleman, OL and Jake Brendel, OL, San Francisco 49ers

Ukeme Eligwe, LB, Las Vegas Raiders

Anthony McKinney, OL, Tennessee Titans

Allen Hurns, WR and Albert Wilson, WR, Miami Dolphins

Lerentee McCray, EDGE and Rashaan Melvin, CB, Jacksonville Jaguars

Christian Miller, LB Carolina Panthers

Colby Gossett, OL, Cleveland Browns

Brad Seaton, OT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Caleb Brantley, DE, Washington Football Team

Jordan Mack, LB Carolina Panthers

Eddie Goldman, DT and Jordan Lucas, S, Chicago Bears

Josh Tupou, DT and Isaiah Prince, OT, Cincinnati Bengals

Drew Forbes, G, Drake Dorbeck, T, Andrew Billings, DT, and Malcolm Pridgeon, G, Cleveland Browns

Jamize Olawale, FB, Dallas Cowboys

Kyle Peko, DT and Ja'Wuan James, RT, Denver Broncos

John Atkins, DT and Russell Bodine, C, Detroit Lions

Skai Moore, LB, Rolan Milligan, DB and Marvell Tell, DB, Indianapolis Colts

Al Woods, DT Jacksonville Jaguars

Lucas Niang, OT, Kansas City Chiefs

Jason Vander Laan, TE, New Orleans Saints

Sam Beal, CB, New York Giants

Leo Koloamatangi, OL and Josh Doctson, WR, New York Jets

Josh Harvey-Clemons, LB, Washington Football Team

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

49ers' Jerick McKinnon 'has looked phenomenal', Kyle Juszczyk says

49ers' Jerick McKinnon 'has looked phenomenal', Kyle Juszczyk says

Jerick McKinnon has yet to appear in a regular-season game for the 49ers, but he figures to be a major part of San Francisco's offense this coming season now that he's healthy.

That was the expectation when he joined the 49ers as a free agent prior to the 2018 NFL season, but when he sustained a torn ACL in the week prior to the regular-season opener, Kyle Shanahan's best-laid plans went out the window. McKinnon also sat out the entirety of San Francisco's run to Super Bowl LIV last season while on injured reserve due to complications with the surgery to fix that injury.

McKinnon has since fully recovered and potentially could add another dynamic weapon to an offense that ranked second in the league in scoring last season. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is excited by his unique skillset, and offensive tackle Trent Williams "can’t fathom him not being a breakout player.”

Fullback Kyle Juszczyk on Tuesday echoed Williams' expectations for McKinnon (H/T 49ers Web Zone).

"I think we all share the same sentiments as Trent," Juszczyk told reporters on a video conference call. "Jet has looked phenomenal. You just would never guess, going out there, and watching the way he practices, how smooth he is, how he doesn't second guess himself, how quickly he answers questions in meetings, all that kind of stuff, you would never guess that this guy hasn't been on the field for two years.

"He just makes things look so natural, so smooth, that I think there can only be positive things for him this year. I think he's going to have a really good year."

[RELATED: Juszczyk explains why Jimmy G is ready to 'turn it loose']

Shanahan has been waiting a long time to unleash McKinnon within his offense.

Assuming the running back can stay healthy, we'll soon get to see why.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]