Rams' Mannion could be Goff's backup vs. 49ers

Rams' Mannion could be Goff's backup vs. 49ers
Rams quarterback Jared Goff, left, is expected to start Saturday against the San Francisco 49ers, with Sean Mannion serving as his backup. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Quarterback Sean Mannion has not been on the Rams’ active game-day roster since the season opener against the San Francisco 49ers.

But with two games left in a lost season — and a new head coach to be hired —  the Rams are beginning to look to the future.


Mannion appears on track to return to the backup role on Saturday when the 49ers visit the Coliseum.

Rookie quarterback Jared Goff, who grew up in Northern California and played in college at California, participated in the team’s light workout Monday. He is expected to clear concussion protocol at some point this week and start against his hometown team.

But Mannion – not veteran Case Keenum – could be the No. 2 quarterback.

"We've talked to him about that being a potential," interim Coach John Fassel said.

Fassel said a determination about Goff's status would almost certainly be made by Thursday, the day of the Rams' final practice for the 49ers.

And if Goff is not able to play?

"We've talked about both Case and Sean," Fassel said. "We'd love to get Sean some reps in the situation like last week, where something happens to Jared – whether he can't find his helmet or his shoelace breaks – get Sean in there for a little bit of work.

"Case has performed well when required, but it would be good for the team to get a look at Sean and see what he can do if pressed into service by necessity."

Mannion was Keenum's backup, but did not play, during the Rams' season-opening, 28-0  loss at Levi's Stadium.

Goff, the No. 1 pick in the draft, was elevated to the backup role the next game against Seattle and he made his debut as the starter in Week 11 against Miami.

The 6-foot-6, 233-pound Mannion said he has remained ready.

"You always try to prepare as if you have to go in the game and win so that's the mentality that I've taken all year," Mannion said. "So nothing changes there.

"But obviously, like anybody, you want to get an opportunity to play."

Last Thursday, Goff was removed from the Rams’ 24-3 loss at Seattle after Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman hit him hard as he was running toward the end zone in the fourth quarter.

Keenum finished the game, completing five of nine passes for 32 yards.

Keenum, 28, is earning $3.6 million this season on a one-year contract. He is expected to test the market as a free agent.

Mannion, a third-round pick from Oregon State in 2015, played in one game as a rookie, completing six of seven passes for 31 yards against the Cincinnati Bengals.

He led the Rams to a comeback victory over the Dallas Cowboys in this season’s first exhibition game, passing for three touchdowns.

Mannion went through the pregame warmup and was in uniform on Sept. 12 against the 49ers. But his game-day routine was the same the last 13 games:

On the field early. Throw about 100 to 125 passes. Change into sweats, and then help Goff and Keenum any way he could during the game.

Mannion said he aimed to "stay engaged in ways other than being on the field," but acknowledged that it was difficult knowing he would not play.

"I think I'd be lying if I said it wasn't [difficult]," he said. "Like anybody in the locker room, you want to get an opportunity to play, and I'm certainly no different."

Mannion has earned the opportunity, Fassel said.

"He comes in early every day, he stays late with Case and Jared, he prepares like he's going to play, which is hard to do as an inactive, third quarterback all season," Fassel said, adding, "Case would understand, so we'll see how that goes."

Quick hits

The Rams promoted defensive back Isaiah Johnson from the practice squad. … Defensive backs Kevin Short and Jerome Couplin and linebackers Reggie Northrup and Cassanova McKinzy were added to the practice squad. … The New York Jets announced they had signed linebacker Randell Johnson from the Rams' practice squad.