49ers week 17 preview and pick: San Francisco at LA Rams

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LB Reuben Foster is hoping his strong December continues for himself and the 49ers when they take on the LA Rams this Sunday.

“Brick by brick” was the motto utilized by Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch as they initiated their retooling of the roster and reshaping the team in their image. Some stones are of greater importance when laying a foundation and the San Francisco 49ers found their cornerstone in quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and their future looks marvelous. The Niners will have until March 6th to agree to terms with Garoppolo before they designate him with the franchise tag. It shouldn’t take San Francisco long to sign Garoppolo to a lucrative contract.

Prior to shifting their focus on the offseason, the 49ers face the Los Angeles Rams to close out 2017. After the fireworks that ensued when the two teams faced earlier in the season, this game may lack the same luster. After clinching the NFC West title against the Titans last week, the Rams will rest several key starters in the season finale.

The Niners are coming off their greatest win of the season after they upset the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jimmy Garoppolo’s brilliance proved to be too much for the league’s best defense. The Niners look to extend their 4 game win streak against the backups of the divisional champs. San Francisco and Los Angeles close out the season at the LA Coliseum. Kickoff is at 1:25 p.m. PT and can be seen on the FOX Network.

Essentials to win the game
The Niners need to establish dominance in their rushing game. Until rookie RB Matt Breida scored a 30 yard touchdown to ice the game against Jackosnville, the Niners run game was pedestrian. RB Carlos Hyde has not toppled the 80 yard mark since week 10 when the Niners got their first win against the NY Giants. In the past 5 weeks, Hyde is averaging 3.16 yards per carry and has lacked explosion when given rushing lanes to exploit. In that same span, Matt Breida has averaged 5.59 yards per carry and has looked far more explosive. With the Rams resting Aaron Donald, the 49ers will be primed to take advantage of a softer Rams defensive front.

Defensively, San Francisco needs only to stop Rams QB Sean Mannion and RB Malcolm Brown. Who? These are the backups that will be filling in for the improved QB Jared Goff and MVP candidate RB Todd Gurley III. The Rams offensive scheme has the capacity to get players open, but the Rams won’t be playing with their difference makers.

Possible downfalls to avoid
San Francisco cannot approach this game any differently than they have the past few weeks. The Niners need only to play with the same level of focus and intensity that they played with against the Jaguars and Titans.

Player spotlight
49er rookie LB Reuben Foster has been the highest graded rookie this year. He is beginning to be mentioned in the same breath as Levonte David, Luke Kuechly and Bobby Wagner. A solid showing against the Rams could bode well for a case for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Foster has been hampered all year by injuries, and suffered a stinger against the Jaguars, but should be ready for the week 17 tilt.

Adrian Colbert is another rookie that the 49ers were forced to play after being decimated by injuries. The free safety from Miami has played remarkably and will make a case to unseat Jimmy Ward as the starter. Colbert can continue to showcase his talent at being a rangy, hard hitting, playmaker by punishing the Rams on Sunday.

Game Projection
The San Francisco 49ers will continue to amass momentum heading into the offseason. The 49ers will play their most balanced game of the season and run away with this game. Carlos Hyde will not have Aaron Darnold to bottle him up and will eclipse 4.3 yards per carry on the day. San Francisco will rush for 160 yards on the day with 2 touchdowns.

Jimmy Garoppolo will provide the front office with another premier performance to consider. Garoppolo will quickly showcase his ability to process what the defense is attempting to do. Rams defensive coordinator, Wade Phillips, will throw exotic blitzes and looks at the 49ers which will be easily dismantled. The undefeated quarterback will eclipse the 300 yard mark on the day and will throw 2 touchdowns.

The Niners currently sit as a 3.5 point underdog and are 8-7 against the spread for the year. San Francisco moves their ATS record to 9-7 on the year as they upset the Rams, outright. San Francisco will end their season on a high note and finish with a 6-10 record with a 34-18 win over the Rams.

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