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Rams lose to 49ers in overtime, will face Cardinals in wild-card playoffs

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Rams tight end Tyler Higbee catches a touchdown pass in front of San Francisco 49ers cornerback Ambry Thomas.
Rams tight end Tyler Higbee catches a touchdown pass in front of San Francisco 49ers cornerback Ambry Thomas during the second quarter of the Rams’ 27-24 overtime loss Sunday at SoFi Stadium.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Ambry Thomas intercepted a deep Matthew Stafford pass intended for Odell Beckham Jr. in overtime to give the 49ers a 27-24 comeback win against the Rams.

Rams lose to 49ers in overtime, will play Cardinals in the playoffs

San Francisco cornerback Ambry Thomas, left, celebrates with tight end George Kittle.
San Francisco cornerback Ambry Thomas, left, celebrates with tight end George Kittle after his game-ending interception against the Rams on Sunday.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

San Francisco rookie cornerback Ambry Thomas intercepted a deep pass by Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford in overtime to secure a 27-24 comeback win for the 49ers at SoFi Stadium on Sunday.

The fourth-seeded Rams will host the fifth-seeded Arizona Cardinals in the NFC wild-card playoffs on Monday, Jan. 17 at 5:15 p.m. PST (ESPN). The Rams split their season series against the Cardinals.

The win secured a playoff spot for the 49ers and prevented the Rams from claiming the NFC’s No. 2 playoff seed. The Rams, however, won the NFC West title minutes before their loss when the Cardinals lost to the Seattle Seahawks.

The 49ers rallied from a 17-0 deficit to extend their winning streak against the Rams to six games.

A 24-yard field goal by Robbie Gould in overtime gave the 49ers their first lead and the eventual win.

Stafford connected with Cooper Kupp on a four-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter to give the Rams a 24-17 lead. With no timeouts, Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers responded decisively with a five-play, 88-yard drive capped by a 14-yard touchdown pass from Garoppolo to Jauan Jennings to force overtime.

Stafford completed 21 of 32 passes for 238 yards and three touchdowns along with two interceptions. Garoppolo completed 23 of 32 passes for 316 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.

Kupp made seven catches for 118 yards and a touchdown. He became the second NFL player to top 1,900 yards receiving in a season and only the fourth player in history to lead the NFL in receptions (145), receiving yards (1,947) and receiving touchdowns (16) in a season.

“We’ll remember this one for for a long time,” Garoppolo said after the game. “It was a special one.”

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49ers take 27-24 lead in overtime on Robbie Gould field goal

49ers 27, Rams 24 — 2:45 left in overtime

San Francisco’s Robbie Gould kicked a 24-yard field goal in overtime to give the 49ers a 27-24 lead.

The kick capped off a 12-play, 69-yard drive by the 49ers that sputtered in the red zone.

It marks the 49ers’ first lead of the game. San Francisco has rallied back from what was a 17-0 deficit late in the second quarter.

The Rams have to get at least a field goal on their possession to keep the game going; a touchdown would win it. The 49ers need a win or tie to make the playoffs.

The Arizona Cardinals lost to the Seattle Seahawks, giving the Rams the NFC West title.

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Rams and 49ers heading into overtime tied 24-24

49ers 24, Rams 24 — end of regulation

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jauan Jennings took advantage of blown coverage to catch at 14-yard touchdown pass from Jimmy Garoppolo to tie the game in the closing seconds of regulation to tie game 24-24.

The 49ers won the overtime coin toss. If the game ends in a tie, the Rams would still clinch the NFC West title, but a tie would cost them the No. 2 seed in the playoffs. The 49ers need a win or a tie to keep their season alive.

It only took the 49ers five plays and 61 seconds to drive 88 yards and find the end zone with their season on the line. A 43-yard catch by Deebo Samuel on botched coverage by Jalen Ramsey was the biggest play of the drive.

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Cooper Kupp’s spinning touchdown catch puts Rams back into the lead

Rams 24, 49ers 17 — 2:29 left in the fourth quarter

Cooper Kupp caught a four-yard touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford to put the Rams back into the lead in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter.

A 30-yard pass from Stafford to Kupp earlier in the nine-play, 92-yard drive helped drive the Rams into 49ers territory. A facemask penalty on San Francisco linebacker Dre Greenlaw helped the Rams’ cause too.

The drive was set up about five minutes earlier by Jalen Ramsey when he made a acrobatic interception on a deflected Jimmy Garoppolo pass.

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49ers’ Deebo Samuel throws TD pass to tie game 17-17

Rams 17, 49ers 17 — 1:46 left in the third quarter

Deebo Samuel is doing it all for the 49ers.

Samuel took a handoff from Jimmy Garoppolo, rolled to his right and then tossed a 24-yard touchdown pass to Jauan Jennings for a touchdown.

The 49ers drove 74 yards in 11 plays, rushing the ball 10 straight times before Samuel’s pass.

Samuel has rushed for 32 yards in five carries and has one catch for 14 yards.

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Deebo Samuel scores touchdown on opening drive of second half

Rams 17, 49ers 10 — 10:32 left in the third quarter

Deebo Samuel scored on a 16-yard run to finish a seven-play, 75-yard drive.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s 31-yard completion to receiver Brandon Aiyuk was the key play in the drive.

Garoppolo has completed 12 of 15 passes for 140 yards.

Aiyuk has four catches for 76 yards.

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Robbie Gould kicks field goal to put 49ers on the scoreboard

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo passes against the Rams.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Rams 17, 49ers 3 — halftime

San Francisco’s Robbie Gould kicked a 42-yard field goal as time expired to cut the Rams’ to 14 points, but the Rams dominated the first half.

Matthew Stafford completed 15 of 16 passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns to tight end Tyler Higbee.

Stafford came into the game having committed six turnovers in the last two games, but he has played without a major error.

Rams receiver Cooper Kupp has five catches for 84 yards.

Jimmy Garoppolo of the 49ers has completed nine of 12 passes for 90 yards, with an interception.

Rams safety Taylor Rapp intercepted the pass late in the quarter but the Rams were unable to capitalize.

The 49ers got the ball with 38 seconds left and drove from their 15-yard line to the Rams’ 24, setting up Gould’s field goal.

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Tyler Higbee’s second touchdown catch gives Rams 17-0 lead

Rams tight end Tyler Higbee celebrates with coach Sean McVay after catching a touchdown pass in the first half.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Rams 17, 49ers 0 — 6:44 left in the second quarter

Brandon Powell’s 31-yard punt return to the 49ers’ 19-yard line set up the Rams offense, and Matthew Stafford capitalized with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Higbee.

The Rams defense set the stage for the touchdown but twice sacking Jimmy Garoppolo before Aaron Donald stopped a running play for a loss.

Powell, who returned a punt for a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings, broke again to the right sideline on his return against the 49ers.

Stafford has completed 13 of 14 passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns to Higbee.

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Tyler Higbee touchdown gives Rams 10-0 lead over 49ers

Rams 10, 49ers 0 — 10:26 left in the second quarter

On fourth down at the two-yard line, Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford faked a hand-off and then tossed a touchdown pass to tight end Tyler Higbee.

The play completed a 12-play, 61-yard drive that featured several catches by receiver Cooper Kupp.

Stafford has completed 11 of 12 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown.

Kupp has four catches for 76 yards.

Running back Cam Akers, who returned from a July Achilles injury, gained two yards on his first carry.

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49ers thwart Rams in the red zone at the end of opening drive

Rams running back Sony Michel carries the ball during the first quarter.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Rams 3, 49ers 0 — 6:07 left in the first quarter

Matt Gay kicked a 43-yard field goal to give the Rams the early lead.

In 31-10 defeat by the 49ers in November, the Rams watched the 49ers control the clock with long drives.

The Rams turned the tables at the start of this game.

The Rams used 8 minutes, 53 seconds to drive 62 yards.

Matthew Stafford connected with Odell Beckham Jr. for a key third down and then found Cooper Kupp for 46 yards on another third down play as the Rams moved to the 49ers’ 15-yard line.

But Stafford was sacked for 10 yards on third down, forcing the Rams to settle for the field goal.

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Unlike on defense, Rams Jalen Ramsey and Taylor Rapp let on-field incident pass

Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey looks in the direction of safety Taylor Rapp.
Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey (5) looks in the direction of safety Taylor Rapp (24) during the first half against the Baltimore Ravens. Apparently there was an assignment mix-up.
(Gail Burton / Associated Press)

As a team captain and five-time Pro Bowl player, star cornerback Jalen Ramsey helps set the tone for the Rams defense.

Typically, Ramsey directs his spirited, aggressive approach at opponents, while also inspiring teammates.

But during the first quarter of last Sunday’s victory at Baltimore, Ramsey struck Rams safety Taylor Rapp in the face in the huddle.

Ramsey said Thursday that it was “personal disagreement” specific to something that occurred during the game.

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A receiving ‘triple crown’ is of less concern to Rams’ Cooper Kupp than beating 49ers

Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp runs with the ball during a win over the Baltimore Ravens on Jan. 2.
(Nick Wass / Associated Press)

Only three players in NFL history have achieved the feat, the last nearly two decades ago.

Rams receiver Cooper Kupp is now on the brink of becoming the fourth receiver to finish a season as the league leader in catches, yards receiving and touchdown receptions.

Jerry Rice, Sterling Sharpe and Steve Smith each accomplished the so-called triple crown.

Smith did it in 2005 with the Carolina Panthers. He is now an analyst for the NFL Network, and he is not surprised by Kupp’s success.

“I’m astonished at the volume,” he said.

Kupp leads the league with 138 catches for 1,829 yards and 15 touchdowns. He will almost certainly add more in some or all categories on Sunday when the Rams play the San Francisco 49ers in the season finale at SoFi Stadium.

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How Rams and 49ers match up heading into Sunday’s NFC West showdown

Rams defensive end Aaron Donald stands on the field during a win over the Baltimore Ravens on Jan. 2.
(Terrance Williams / Associated Press)

Breaking down how the Rams (12-4) and the San Francisco 49ers (9-7) match up heading into their game at 1:25 p.m. PST on Sunday at SoFi Stadium. The game will be shown on FOX.

When Rams have the ball: Quarterback Matthew Stafford committed six turnovers in the last two games — and the Rams won both. That is not a sustainable model for success, regardless of how good Stafford can be directing drives in the final minutes.

Stafford had two early turnovers in a 31-10 loss to the 49ers in November, including a pick-six by safety Jimmie Ward. Stafford has passed for 38 touchdowns with 15 interceptions. Four of the interceptions were returned for touchdowns.

Wide receiver Cooper Kupp needs 11 catches to tie Michael Thomas’ NFL record of 149, set in a 16-game season in 2019. Kupp needs 135 yards receiving to tie Calvin Johnson’s record of 1,964 set in 2012 in 16 games. Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. caught the game-winning touchdown pass last Sunday at Baltimore, increasing his total to five touchdowns in seven games with the Rams.

Running back Cam Akers, who suffered a torn Achilles in July, is expected to return in a limited role behind starter Sony Michel. The Rams have won five games in a row since Michel became the starter.

End Nick Bosa has 15 sacks for a 49ers defense that also features end Arik Armstead and linebacker Fred Warner. Ward was among several defensive backs activated to the roster from the reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday.

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Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers: NFL betting odds, lines and picks

San Francisco 49ers at Rams (-4½, 44½), 1:25 p.m. PST Sunday, FOX

Of course, the Rams don’t have nearly as much at stake as the 49ers. It is not a true “must-win situation” by definition, given that a Saints loss to the Falcons would still put the 49ers in the playoffs regardless, but head coach Kyle Shanahan isn’t going to let his players have those thoughts. San Francisco has control of its own destiny because an upset means a guaranteed spot in the playoffs.

That means that the Rams will face a very formidable, very motivated bunch in the regular-season finale. The Cardinals might not, as the Seahawks are playing out the string and look to be in line for some big changes this offseason. The Rams clearly have the tougher of the two games this weekend, but these types of games are important indicators because of the quality opponents that lie ahead.

Give the Rams credit. I, and many others, questioned them during a three-game losing streak against the Titans, 49ers and Packers. However, they have answered the bell with strong efforts against Arizona and the recent back-to-back road wins over Minnesota and Baltimore.

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On five-game skid against 49ers, Rams need to put their minds over turnover matters

San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan watches from the sideline during a game against the Atlanta Falcons on Dec. 19.
(Jed Jacobsohn / Associated Press)

He is one of Sean McVay’s good friends. He also is a mentor.

But for most of the last three seasons, San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan also has been McVay’s nemesis.

Consider: The Rams will go into Sunday’s game against the 49ers riding a five-game winning streak — but with a five-game losing streak against the 49ers.

Is there a mental block that McVay and his team must get past to beat the 49ers on Sunday at SoFi Stadium?

“No,” McVay said Friday during a video conference with reporters. “I think we’ve got to play better and coach better in that window of time that we’re allotted. There’s a lot of different narratives.

“They’ve done a great job, definitely. I’m not going make any excuses, but to say a mental block, no.”

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