San Francisco 49ers kicker Robbie Gould (4) is mobbed by his teammates after kicking the game winning field goal against the Los Angeles Rams in the fourth quarter on Sun Nov 29, 2020 (photo from sfgate.com)
By Joe Hawkes
LOS ANGELES — Heading into Week 12, the Los Angeles Rams sat atop of the NFC West while the San Francisco occupied the basement of the division.
For the first 2 1/2 quarters of Sunday’s game, it looked like the roles were reversed. For a second, the Rams appeared to regain the upper-hand before the 49ers would finish off the season thanks to Robbie Gould’s 42-yard field goal as time expired for a 23-20 upset victory in their first game at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood.
The win for San Francisco completes a season sweep over Los Angeles. It also gives the 49ers a four-game winning streak over the Rams and snaps their three-game losing streak. The 49ers improve to 5-6 on the season and remain in the hunt for a playoff spot in the NFC.
Three of the 49ers’ most important players returned to the field Sunday, each making big contributions to the win.
Wide receiver Deebo Samuel who missed the last three games with a strained hamstring, had the biggest play from scrimmage for the 49ers in the first quarter. Samuel turned quarterback Nick Mullens’ short pass into a 33-yard pick up on the 49ers’ third possession of the game.
Three plays later, one play after a 26-yard gain from Samuel, running back Raheem Mostert rushed for an 8-yard touchdown slipping down the left sideline to give the 49ers a 7-3 lead.
Mostert who was making his return to the lineup for the first time since Week 6 (against the Rams), finished with 43 yards on 16 carries.
The offense was noticeably different with both Samuel and Mostert in the lineup. Samuel finished with career-highs in catches (11) and yards (133).
Mullens, albeit a bit shaky for most of the game, made plays down the stretch to put the 49ers in position to win. He completed 24 of 35 passes for 252 yards, no touchdowns and one interception that resulted on a tipped pass by Rams game-wrecker Aaron Donald that fell into the arms of Jordan Fuller.
Donald was essentially a non factor in the team’s first meeting, but was wrecking ball in today’s game.
With the 49ers holding a 17-6 lead midway through the third quarter, Donald split between right tackle Mike McGlinchey and rookie center Colton McKivitz and forced a Mostert fumble. Cornerback Troy Hill scooped it up and returned the fumble 20 yards for a touchdown to trim San Francisco’s lead to 17-13.
On San Francisco’s next possession, Donald sacked Mullens on first down for a loss of eight yards that led to a three-and-out. On the Rams’ next drive, rookie running back Cam Akers ripped off a 61-yard run to setup first-and-goal at the 49ers’ 6-yard line. Two plays later, Akers barrels his way into the end zone for a 1-yard score to give the Rams their first lead of the game, 20-17.
San Francisco’s offense committed three turnovers and finished 3 of 14 on third downs but it was the play by the defense, forcing four turnovers and the returning Richard Sherman that put the 49ers over the top.
Sherman, who hasn’t played since Week 1, made his presence felt early in the game when he intercepted Rams quarterback Jared Goff in the first quarter. Sherman would finish with a team-high seven tackles.
The front seven made life difficult for Goff all day, creating great pressure from defensive tackles Javon Kinlaw and Kevin Givens that allowed defensive end Kerry Hyder to feast.
Hyder recorded two sacks off Goff, who threw his second interception of the game in the third quarter to Kinlaw where the rookie returned it 27 yards to give the 49ers a 14-3 lead. Hyder leads the team with 7.5 sacks this year.
For the second time this season, the 49ers didn’t allow Goff to crack 200 yards passing as the Rams’ signal-caller finished 19 of 31 for 198 yards, no touchdowns, two interceptions and one fumble.
In the first matchup against San Francisco, Goff completed 19 of 38 passes for 198 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in San Francisco’s 24-16 on Oct. 18.
Goff entered Sunday’s contest after putting up 376 yards and three touchdowns (with two interceptions) on 39 of 51 pass attempts in the Rams’ 27-24 win over the Buccaneers on ESPN’s Monday Night Football at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
Safety Jimmie Ward forced two fumbles on the day, each recovered by Givens and Hyder.
Defensively, the 49ers held the Rams to 308 yards of total offense and 4 of 13 on third downs.
The 49ers are set to host games against the Buffalo Bills on Dec. 7 and Washington on Dec. 13 but due to a ban on contact sports by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department that was announced Saturday, San Francisco doesn’t have a venue as of yet.
Possible locations include Arizona and Texas according to multiple reports. Those are also the sites of the 49ers’ two final road games. The 49ers are scheduled to play at Dallas on Sunday, Dec. 20, and at Arizona on either Saturday, Dec. 26, or Sunday, Dec. 27.