News & Analysis

NFL Week 12 PFF ReFocused: San Francisco 49ers 23, Los Angeles Rams 20

Nov 29, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) runs past Los Angeles Rams inside linebacker Natrez Patrick (57) on a fourth quarter pass play at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

With quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and star tight end George Kittle out due to injuries, the San Francisco 49ers found a way to knock off the division-leading Los Angeles Rams for the second time this season, 23-20. 

Both teams did their best to hand the other a victory, with the Rams throwing two interceptions and losing two fumbles and the 49ers owning an interception and two lost fumbles themselves. 

Editor's note: All of PFF's grades and advanced stats from this game will be finalized and made available to ELITE subscribers within 24 hours of the final whistle.

STORY OF THE GAME

Nick Mullens started for the fifth time this season and struggled outside of play-action, completing just 62% of his passes for 5.3 yards per attempt with an interception and no TDs. Mullens connected on all six of his play-action attempts for 99 yards, which makes you wonder why head coach Kyle Shanahan did not lean on it more. 

Raheem Mostert, fresh off of injured reserve, resumed his bell cow role, taking his 16 carries for 43 yards and touchdown. Jeff Wilson Jr. was also heavily involved, gaining 43 yards on 12 attempts. Neither back was exceptional and both fumbled once against the Rams' strong front seven. 

The offense revolved around second-year receiver Deebo Samuel, who saw a career-high 13 targets. He hauled in 11 receptions for 134 yards but was unable to reach the end zone. Samuel was absolutely electric — he forced seven missed tackles, and four of his catches went for 15-plus yards. The Rams as a team only forced six missed tackles and had two passing plays of 15-plus yards.

Richard Sherman saw his first live action since his Week 2 injury and did not disappoint. Jared Goff threw his way five times, but Sherman allowed just three to be caught for 49 yards while snatching an interception. 

Speaking of Goff, it was an outing he will want to quickly forget. Like Mullens, he couldn't find the end zone through the air and missed consistently on passes 10-plus yards downfield. On such throws, he completed just one of seven attempts for 30 scoreless yards and a costly interception. 

Due to Goff’s struggles, only one receiver was able to reel in over 50 receiving yards. Robert Woods was his quarterback’s safety blanket, corralling seven passes for 80 yards, but he was only able to gain three first downs. 

The ground game was similarly inefficient outside of second-round rookie running back Cam Akers, who had an impressive 61-yard scamper down to the goal line and eventually punched it in for a touchdown. He finished the bout with nine carries, 84 yards and the one score. Malcolm Brown handled only three rushing attempts for a measly 4 yards and lost a fumble, which resulted in Sean McVay sending him to the bench. Darrell Henderson was not stellar, either, carrying the ball 10 times for a paltry 19 yards.

Although both teams forfeited points off turnovers and could not keep drives going, the 49ers were able to improve to 5-6. The Rams are now 7-4 but have gone 3-4 outside of contests against the faltering NFC East. 

ROOKIE WATCH

Outside of Akers, there were few rookies who took the field in this matchup. For the 49ers, fifth-round offensive lineman Colton McKivitz received his first start, and the lack of experience showed. He allowed two QB pressures and was being getting beaten by defenders on two more occasions when Mullens was able to release the football before they reached him.

First-round defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw fared much better, generating one pressure, nabbing three assisted tackles on seven snaps against the run and pulling down an interception that he took 27 yards to the house. 

For the Rams, only safety Jordan Fuller saw significant snaps on either side of the ball. The 49ers made it a point to test him, throwing the ball five times into his coverage. He allowed four to be caught for 94 yards and four first downs. He missed two tackles but did grab a nice interception, saving the day from being completely awful. 

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