49ers beat Rams’ B team for fifth straight win
LOS ANGELES — The San Francisco 49ers wish the season could keep going.
But it won’t. They concluded the season with their fifth straight win, a 34-13 victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 292 yards and two touchdowns along with two interceptions. San Francisco running back Carlos Hyde rushed for 90 yards and two scores.
The 49ers finished 6-10. That is not nearly good enough for a playoff berth, but with its season-ending winning streak it is good enough to give San Francisco optimism for 2018.
“It’s a shame this is the end of the year,” said 49ers veteran tackle Joe Staley. “And this is coming from a guy who’s in his 11th year and is 33 years old. I feel like we’re going in the right direction and we’ve got a special team here.”
For the Rams, Sunday’s late-December game was as meaningful as a late-August game. Los Angeles (11-5) already had clinched the NFC West championship and had secured a home game next weekend in the wild-card round of the NFC playoffs.
Los Angeles sat 17 of its starters, including quarterback Jared Goff, Pro-Bowl defensive tackle Aaron Donald and running back Todd Gurley II, who is a candidate for NFL MVP.
Goff’s replacement, Sean Mannion, completed 20-of-34 passes for 169 yards.
With Gurley not playing, Kansas City Chiefs’ running back Kareem Hunt bypassed him for the NFL rushing title. Hunt trailed Gurley by 13 yards going into Week 17. With 35 yards against Denver on Sunday, Hunt finished with a league-high 1,327 yards.
Rams head coach Sean McVay said resting starters was the right choice, no matter the outcome of Sunday’s game.
“I think any time you go into a football game,” he said, “you’re certainly going to try to win the game. But, I do think when you look at the way we approached it, we feel good about being able to allow some of our players to get some rest, a little bit of recovery time that I think is much needed for some of those guys and then you keep a couple guys out of harm’s way.”
The 49ers, who had 463 total offensive yards to the Rams’ 251, had their way with the Rams, and early.
They scored on their first two possessions. The 49ers took a 3-0 lead on a 33-yard field goal by Robbie Gould.
Garoppolo, with the sort of excellent protection he would enjoy all afternoon, lofted a short pass to wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, who was alone near the 10-yard line and jogged uncontested to the end zone to make it 10-0.
The Rams sliced their deficit to 10-3 on a 23-yard field goal by Sam Ficken with 1:15 left in the first quarter.
Gould’s second field goal, this one from 48 yards, pushed the San Francisco lead to 13-3.
The 49ers added a Hyde 8-yard touchdown run with 1:13 to go in the first half. Hyde appeared to be stopped at the Rams’ 5-yard line, but the rugby-like scrum, powered by 49ers center Daniel Kilgore and Staley, found its way across the goal line for a 20-3 lead.
The Rams got a 21-yard field goal from Ficken on the final snap of the half. Los Angeles got the ball on Kevin Peterson’s second interception of the half, and put it at the San Francisco 3 on a 50-yard completion from Mannion to Michael Thomas. The Rams decided to take the field goal instead of trying for a touchdown.
The 49ers put the game away with six minutes to go in the third quarter on a 5-yard touchdown run by Hyde. Hyde took a handoff, headed toward the middle, found traffic there and then headed around the left corner. As he dived, Hyde extended the ball with his right arm just inside the pylon to make it 27-6.
San Francisco scored on the first play of the fourth quarter — a 13-yard touchdown pass from Garoppolo to Aldrick Robinson. It was an easy score for the 49ers as Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman fell on the coverage, leaving Robinson wide open in the end zone. That made it 34-6.
Rams third-string running back Lance Dunbar scored on an 8-yard run with 6:40 left in the game for the team’s only touchdown.
NOTES: The 49ers’ domination of the game began in the first quarter in which they had eight first downs to the Rams’ one. That Rams first down was on a roughing-the-passer penalty. ... 49ers WR Marquise Goodwin took a hard shot to the head from Rams safety Blake Countess on an incomplete pass in the second quarter. Goodwin stayed on the ground for several minutes while being attended to by the 49ers medical staff. He was placed on a cart and gave a double thumbs-up while being taken to the locker room. ... The Rams wore throwback uniforms: the royal blue jerseys with yellow accents, yellow pants with blue and white stripes, and blue helmets with yellow horns they wore from 1973 through 1999. Those are the same uniforms the Rams wore in the Warren Beatty movie “Heaven Can Wait.” ... Mannion said he did not feel shortchanged that his first start of the season was with a mostly second-string outfit. “I have the utmost confidence in every guy on this roster,” Mannion said. “I thought all the guys that were out there fought their tails off.”