Bye week a much-welcomed advantage for Rams after key players go down against 49ers

LOS ANGLELES, CA. DECEMBER 30, 2018-Rams tackle Andrew Whitworth is injured against the 49ers at the
Rams tackle Andrew Whitworth is injured against the 49ers at the Coliseum.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The Rams’ 48-32 victory over the San Francisco 49ers earned them a bye through the wild-card round of the playoffs, and they will need it to rest and heal players such as veteran offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth and safety Blake Countess, who suffered injuries Sunday at the Coliseum.

Those players will join running back Todd Gurley and safety Lamarcus Joyner — both of whom sat out Sunday because of injuries — doing rehabilitation work as the Rams prepare for their Jan. 12 divisional round game against an opponent to be determined.

Whitworth, the starting left tackle, limped off the field in the second quarter because of a knee injury. He was replaced by rookie Joseph Noteboom and did not return.


“I think he knocked knees with somebody else,” coach Sean McVay said of Whitworth, “so we’re hoping, really, that’s all that that’s going to be and we’ll get him back and ready to go.”

Countess started at safety in place of Joyner, and in the first quarter intercepted a tipped pass in the end zone for a touchback.

Later in the quarter, he appeared dazed after making a hard tackle on 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk. He left the field and was put into concussion protocol.

No record for Donald


Defensive tackle Aaron Donald recorded a first-quarter sack but was shut out the rest of the way in his bid to tie or break Michael Strahan’s NFL record for sacks in a season.

Donald finished with 20½, two short of the record Strahan set during the 2001 season.

“I wasn’t getting frustrated,” Donald said. “I wasn’t working to chase it. I was just going out there and playing like… if it happened, it happened. If it didn’t, it didn’t.

“I was just trying to make as many plays as I can and affect the game and try to come away with a win and we did that.”

The 6-foot-1, 280-pound Donald had four tackles, one for a loss and three quarterback hits, including at least one that led to an interception.

Anderson stepping up … again

Running back C.J. Anderson rushed for 132 yards and a touchdown in 23 carries, the second time in as many games he has filled in for Gurley and eclipsed 100 yards rushing.

“I just try to be myself,” said Anderson, who rushed for 167 yards and a touchdown in 20 carries the previous week at Arizona.


McVay said Anderson, a sixth-year pro, has “a great feel” for the game.

“So cerebral, so smart,” McVay said, adding, “Really efficient, really good football player, and I’m sure glad he’s with us.”

Reynolds catching on

Receivers Brandin Cooks and Josh Reynolds each caught two touchdown passes.

After cornerback Aqib Talib returned a fumble 47 yards, Cooks scored on a three-yard pass from Jared Goff on the first series.

In the second quarter, Cooks caught a pass, and then got a key block from Noteboom as he dashed to an 18-yard touchdown for a 28-3 lead. Cooks finished with five catches for 62 yards.

Reynolds, a second-year pro, scored twice in the third quarter, first on a 29-yard strike that increased the lead to 38-10, and then on a two-yard pass for a 45-17 lead. He had four receptions for 29 yards.

“It was good to see, just him step up and continue to step up, continue to get better,” Goff said. “As time goes on I continue to get more and more on the same page with him.”


Cooks finished the regular season with 80 catches for 1,204 yards and five touchdowns. Robert Woods, who caught two passes for 24 yards Sunday, finished with 86 receptions for 1,219 yards and six touchdowns.

Reynolds has 29 catches for 402 yards and five touchdowns.


Tight end George Kittle of the 49ers caught nine passes for 149 yards and a touchdown. Kittle finished the season with 1,377 yards receiving, an NFL record for tight ends. Kittle broke the record of 1,336 set earlier in the day by the Kansas City Chiefs’ Travis Kelce

Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein

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