Tonight’s game is significant for both teams. The Rams need this victory to keep their playoff hopes alive. The 49ers are already in, and while Week 17 is more meaningful, San Francisco still has hopes for the top seed and a first-round bye. My pal Sosa from Turf Show Times joins us to answer five questions ahead of the game.
1) Todd Gurley looks like a shell of himself or at least did last week. Is it time for the Rams to move on from the once-promising back?
It depends. The situation is hard to understand, and I believe even the Rams don’t exactly know what the plan is with Gurley. Once being an elite back and a true workhorse capable of playing all three downs, Gurley looks like he could very well be past those days. But the issue is he can tease the throwback version of himself, which makes it hard to decide whether it’s best to move on or not. Looking at his year from a statistical standpoint, it’s clear he’s having the worst year since 2016 and by far his worst season under Sean McVay. He’s currently averaging only 3.9 yards-per-carry, has only 927 yards from scrimmage, and his yards-per-touch dropped from 6.1 in 2017 to 5.8 in 2018 to 4.3 this year. Moving on from Gurley is much easier said than done as his extension doesn’t even kick in until next season, meaning the only hope the Rams have if they plan to move on is a trade, though it remains to be seen whether anybody would be willing to take on the gargantuan contract.
2) Jared Goff has been all over the map this year as far as his play goes. How confident are you in his performance Saturday, considering it’s a must-win for the Rams?
Not very confident. Like you said, Goff has been wildly inconsistent this season. In just 14 games this season, Goff has already 25 combined interceptions and fumbles. Statistically, the Week 6 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers was arguably his worst game of the year as he totaled only 78 passing yards, completed 54% of his passes, and fumbled twice. The offensive line will likely be overmatched once again, and Goff doesn’t play well against pressure.
3) The 49ers could be without their starting right guard, and they are down to swing tackles to fill in for him. Is the defensive line for LA the biggest advantage?
Most likely. Obviously, world-beater, DT Aaron Donald, should get a handful of reps against the backup guard, though the 49ers would be wise to slide help to #99’s direction every rep. Still, the defensive line has been very solid for the Rams this season. Edge rusher Dante Fowler Jr. and DT Michael Brockers have played some of the best ball of their careers in 2019. One thing to note: Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips deploys a bevy of stunts up front, making the communication between the new offensive lineman and regular starters vital.
4) The Rams traded two first-round picks for Jalen Ramsey. How much of a disappointment will this season be if the team doesn’t make the playoffs, considering what they sacrificed?
Regardless of how you feel about the trade, this season is a disappointment. When you consider how much the Rams moved to acquire Ramsey in hopes of a defensive spark – which did actually happen, though not solely on the shoulders of Ramsey – you have to believe General Manager Les Snead expected a playoff berth. Ramsey’s play has yet to reach peak level, though the expectation is that it will at some point. The one saving grace for the trade is that Ramsey is still so young and could very well be the most talented cornerback in the league, making his acquisition a building block for the future as opposed to a one-year rental.
5) Which duo would you rather have the next three years, Goff/Woods or Garoppolo/Samuel?
That’s a tough one to answer, and I firmly believe the answer would flip if you asked this question on a weekly/monthly/yearly basis. Personally, I’d rather roll with Jared Goff and Robert Woods, though that is simply because of the experience factor. Woods is a seven-year veteran, and Goff is a four-year veteran, the expectations of them are high, and they’re known commodities at this point. Garoppolo only has 24 starts to his name, and Samuel has yet to complete his rookie season, though he oozes big-play and incredible YAC potential. Still, one thing I value more than most is a reliable set of hands-on receivers, and Woods separates himself in that category. I wouldn’t knock anyone for picking the Garoppolo/Samuel duo, but like I said earlier, I believe the answer to this question is one that would flip relatively often.