LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 292 yards and two touchdowns to lead the San Francisco 49ers to their fifth straight victory, 34-13 on Sunday against a Los Angeles Rams team resting its big stars for the playoffs.
The Rams (11-5), who clinched the NFC West title last weekend, rested Todd Gurley, Jared Goff, Aaron Donald and other top players for their home playoff game next weekend, the franchise’s first postseason game since the 2004 season.
The 49ers (6-10) finished last in the division, but have hope with Garoppolo, who was Tom Brady’s backup with New England before being acquired on Oct. 31. He threw touchdown passes of 8 yards to Marquise Goodwin — who later left with a concussion after a brutal hit by Blake Countess — and 12 yards to Aldrick Robinson. Both receivers were wide open.
Garoppolo completed 20 of 33 passes, looking confident and making some brilliant throws. He also was intercepted twice. Of course, it helped not having to face Donald and the Rams’ four starting linebackers.
Carlos Hyde, who predicted last week that the Niners will win next season’s Super Bowl, ran 15 times for 90 yards, scoring on runs of 8 and 5 yards.
The game was marred when Goodwin was laid out with a shot to the left side of the helmet by Countess after an incomplete pass late in the first half. Goodwin flailed on the field for a moment before going still. He was tended to for several minutes before being helped to his feet and gingerly placed on a seat in the back of a cart. He motioned to fans with both hands and took off his helmet as he was driven up the tunnel at the LA Coliseum. He was ruled out with a concussion and taken to a hospital for evaluation.
Countess was flagged for unnecessary roughness for hitting a defenseless player.
The catalyst for the 49ers’ late-season run, Garoppolo showed a nice touch in finding open receivers. Working from the Rams 8 late in the first quarter, Garoppolo’s primary receiver was covered, so the QB found Goodwin in the right flat for the easy score.
Early in the fourth, Robinson was wide open up the middle for his 12-yard scoring catch.
Robbie Gould capped the 49ers’ first drive with a 33-yard field goal. The big play on that drive was Garoppolo’s 44-yard pass to tight end George Kittle on third down. Kittle caught a short pass over the middle and broke it for a big gain.
Garoppolo was intercepted on the third possession by Kevin Peterson, who returned it 38 yards to the LA 22. The Rams had to settle for Sam Ficken’s 33-yard field goal.
MANNION THE MAN?
Sean Mannion made his first career start at quarterback for the Rams in place of Goff, who was active as the backup. Mannion was mostly unremarkable, going 20 of 34 for 169 yards with no touchdowns.
The star running back was inactive, costing him the NFL rushing title. Gurley came into Sunday leading the NFL with 1,305 yards, followed by Kansas City’s Kareem Hunt with 1,292 and Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell with 1,291. Bell also sat out Sunday. Hunt’s first carry Sunday was for 35 yards and a touchdown, moving him past Gurley.