Heartbreaking Loss Puts 49ers Playoff Hopes on Thin Ice

Heartbreaking Loss Puts 49ers Playoff Hopes on Thin Ice

 

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Few teams enter the postseason playing better football than the Los Angeles Rams, who have won seven of eight since their bye week to earn a historic playoff berth in Detroit.And while momentum doesn’t always mean much in the playoff pot, the Rams (10-7) finished their regular season at a level that showed they’re capable of big things this year — and they’re far from the same. . far from the championship game they seemed to be last season.

The Rams finished the regular season strong, even while resting their most important players. LA’s 21-20 win over San Francisco featured plenty of safety plays, as well as reasons for the Rams to be optimistic both this week and next season.

“It’s about coming together at the right time and continuing as a group,” coach Sean McVay said Monday. “I think our veteran leaders have really elevated everyone around them, and then you get guys who are able to step up a lot faster than what’s normally expected, and#039;hey, you and#039;have to. Weand#039; re counting on you. and #039;… Weand#039;re excited where weand#039;re at.

 

I think we have good momentum, but now weand#039;re all 0-0.The Rams went 3-6 and their playoff chances seemed slim, they improved in the bye week – most importantly, when Matthew Stafford returned from injury – and quickly put together increasingly impressive performances.

They did so with Stafford’s veteran leaders Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp, as well as youngsters who stepped up in a way they rarely do for McVayand#039;s Rams, who haven’t had a first-round draft pick since. 2016 — one year before the coach’s arrival.

Puka Nacua’s historic season grabbed the biggest headlines, but a half-dozen draft picks made a significant impact by leading nearly two dozen first- and second-year players on the NFL’s second-youngest roster.”I see a cohesive team,” said McVay, who posted his sixth winning record and fifth 10-win season in seven years with the Rams. andquot;I see a team that supports each other.

I see a team that responds better to adversity, and then I see a team that has a lot of fun just going out there and crushing it, and I think that’s when we’re at our best.”WHATand# 039;S WORKThe Rams ranked seventh in the NFL in total yards per game (359.3) and eighth in rushing yards per game (23.8).

Stafford fell just short of a 4,000-yard season despite missing 2 1/2 games, Kyren Williams became the Ramsand#039; Nacua became the first 1,000-yard rusher since 2018 and became the most productive receiver in NFL history. With a much improved offensive line, McVay put together another outstanding offensive team.WHAT NEEDS HELPThe Rams finished the regular season with 41 sacks, tied for 23rd in the league with the Lions — and the fewest among the 14 playoff teams.

 

With Kobie Turner (9) and Byron Young (8) finishing 1-2 with the most sacks in the NFL this season, Los Angeles would greatly benefit from constant pressure on opposing quarterbacks to move forward with Donald and his defense against old friend Jared Goff in Detroit.IN STOCKSafety Russ Yeast lost his starting job earlier this year, but stepped up in Week 18 when starter Jordan Fuller was injured. Gisto led the Rams with seven tackles and had two big assists, including a key game for the Ninersand#039; the last run.

If the Rams have to rely on Yeast in Detroit, this performance made them more comfortable.BACKUPSThe Rams waived defensive lineman Earnest Brown on Monday, his 25th birthday. The 2021 fifth-round pick never earned a regular role in Los Angeles over three seasons, playing in just 12 games. The move opens up the roster to Detroit for profound reasons.INJURIES Fuller hurt his ankle in San Francisco and McVay isn’t sure if his defensive captain will play. He will miss at least Wednesday and practice. Fuller played more snaps on Ramsand#039 than anyone else; protection until injury.

“I think we have to prepare and make contingency plans, but hopefully he’ll be able to play,” McVay said.Key Number1148 — Rookie left guard Steve Avila, the only player not to drop a pass this season. Los Angeles and#039; The massive additions of Avila and Kevin Dotson at the guard positions have been a major key to the offense’s improvement this season.NEXT STEPSLos Angeles doesn’t have nearly as much outside pressure as the Lions, playing with the failure of a franchise and a success-hungry fan base on their shoulders. Stafford aside, the Rams could be playing without much history and expectations. Whether that’s a good or bad thing will be revealed on Sunday night..

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