Nothing compelling about 49ers-Rams other than draft positioning
Most football fans will not be tuning in to watch the San Francisco 49ers travel down the coast to face the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday.
Years ago, this rivalry was an important game on the schedule for possible NFL playoff implications. Now it does not even include fantasy football playoff implications.
With as bad as both of these offenses are, no fantasy owner in their right mind can start a player from either team. The only issue of significance this game holds is a possible No. 1 overall selection in the 2017 NFL draft for the 49ers and a top-five selection for the Tennessee Titans.
The only reason the Titans' front office might tune into this game is because the Rams traded away their 2017 first-round selection in 2016 to Tennessee in exchange for the rights to draft quarterback Jared Goff.
An irony would play out, Goff might not play against the 49ers because of a concussion he sustained at the end of the loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 15. However, it appears he will be recovered.
The Rams have lost nine of their last 10 games and are in a rematch against a team whose only win came against them in Week 1.
The 49ers shut out the Rams 28-0 to open the season, but a lot has changed for both teams since that game. Both teams have different starting quarterbacks. Both teams have suffered injuries along the offensive line. Both teams have been consistently outcoached week in and week out.
"The mistakes, the inconsistencies, it's just very frustrating," Rams guard Rodger Saffold said. "It can drive you crazy.
"At the same time, I've got to keep being the same guy when I go in the next day. I'm not going to stop appearing. I'm not going to stop playing. I'm going to keep fighting for these guys because this is the last time this locker room is going to look like this, let's just be honest."
While Saffold was talking about his team, he could have been speaking for the 49ers.
Both clubs are in the bottom half of the NFL in offensive production, especially in the passing game.
The Rams average 200.1 yards, which is 29th in the NFL. This is with Goff and Case Keenum at the helm.
The 49ers' passing attack is not an attack at all. With Blaine Gabbert and now Colin Kaepernick running the offense, the 49ers are the worst passing team in the NFL, averaging 176.2 yards through the air.
Los Angeles is last in the NFL in points scored per game at 14.1. San Francisco is 26th in scoring with an 18.9-point average per game.
The Rams' offense is considered the worst in the NFL and the statistics back this up. Los Angeles is last in the NFL in yards gained per game at 278.8.
The Rams have the 2015 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, running back Todd Gurley, lined up in the backfield, yet are 31st in the NFL in rushing. The Rams average 78.6 yards per game on the ground.
"You watch different organizations when (losing) happens, there's a lot of in-fighting going on -- offense turning against the defense, defense turning against the offense," 49ers coach Chip Kelly said. "All that stuff. I don't think that has happened on this football team. I think they've pretty much stuck together as a group and are working together."
One area the 49ers can be proud of this season is the rushing attack. The 49ers have been very good, especially for a team that has started multiple players at multiple positions along the line.
In the Week 15 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, Zane Beadles played center for the first time in his career and John Theus made his NFL debut playing left tackle. The makeshift offensive line still has opened holes for running back Carlos Hyde, who should surpass 1,000 yards this weekend.
Hyde has 950 yards rushing for the season and the 49ers are fourth in the NFL in rushing, averaging 134.8 yards per game.
If the Rams had a better offense, the unit could take advantage of a banged-up and porous 49ers defense. San Francisco ranks last in the NFL in points allowed (31), yards against (424.9) and yards allowed rushing the football (176.3).
If Gurley is going to rush for more than 100 yards in a game in 2016, this has to be the one for that to happen.
The Rams' defense gives up too many points (23.4 per game), which is 20th in the NFL. Los Angeles has been good against the pass and is ranked 11th in total yards allowed with 337.5 per game.
Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald continues his dominance of offensive linemen and was rewarded this week with his third Pro Bowl nod.
Updated December 21, 2016