Rams know playoffs can’t come to pass without Jared Goff stepping up vs. 49ers

The 49ers' defense kept Rams quarterback Jared Goff under wraps when they met in October.
The 49ers’ defense kept Rams quarterback Jared Goff under wraps when they met in October. Goff had the worst passing performance of his NFL career.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Not much sympathy permeated the Rams’ facility Tuesday as quarterback Jared Goff worked through a right thumb bruise.

Coach Sean McVay described as “goofy” a wrist wrap Goff wore early in the day.

“I can’t really say the word I probably want to use,” McVay joked. “It’s a curse word.”

Offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth, whose helmet Goff inadvertently struck following through on a pass that was intercepted by the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday, jokingly dismissed the severity of Goff’s situation.

“As linemen I don’t think we have much sympathy for finger injuries,” Whitworth said. “Dislocated every one I got.”


Goff also downplayed the issue.

“It’s a little stiff,” he said, “but I’ll be good in a day or two.”

The postseason equation for the Rams is simple to explain. But there is low probability that it will work out in the Rams favor.

Dec. 16, 2019

The Rams (8-6) play the San Francisco 49ers (11-3) on Saturday at Levi’s Stadium. And if they are to keep alive their slim playoff chances, they need Goff to perform markedly better than the last time the teams played.

On Oct. 13 at the Coliseum, Goff completed 13 of 24 passes for a career-low 78 yards in a 20-7 defeat. The Rams produced only 157 yards and were zero for nine on third down.

“They did a good job on defense,” Goff said, “and we didn’t execute.”

It was the third consecutive loss for a Rams team that rebounded with victories over the Atlanta Falcons and Cincinnati Bengals to revive playoff possibilities. But the Rams lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers and have been teetering on the verge of playoff elimination nearly every week since.

Last Sunday, Goff completed 33 of 51 passes for 284 yards and two touchdowns, with the interception, in an embarrassing 44-21 defeat to the Cowboys.

That left the Rams, a Super Bowl participant in 2018, with only one way to make the playoffs. The Rams must defeat the 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals, and the Minnesota Vikings (10-4) must lose home games against the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears.

The scenario is not a distraction, Goff said.

The Los Angeles Rams have to win final two games and the Minnesota Vikings have to lose their final two for the Rams to make the NFC playoffs.

Dec. 16, 2019

“At this point,” he said, “if we don’t win the next two it doesn’t matter who wins or who loses outside of us.”


Goff does not plan to wear any protective devices on his hand against the 49ers. And McVay said the quarterback would not be limited from taking snaps under center.
Goff has passed for 17 touchdowns, with 15 interceptions. Those statistics pale compared to last season, when he had 32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, and his 28/7 ratio of 2017.

Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers coach, said Tuesday that Goff was “as accurate and as consistent” as any quarterback in the NFL.

“When the team’s on, I think Goff plays as good as anyone in this league,” Shanahan said during a teleconference. “Hopefully you can make it so he has to do a lot of stuff by himself and hopefully you can get after him, put some pressure on him.”

Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald was voted to the Pro Bowl for the sixth consecutive time, and cornerback Jalen Ramsey made it for the third time.

Dec. 17, 2019

McVay said that philosophy also applied to the 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo, and other quarterbacks.

“The way that you can try to minimize how well they play, or minimize their impact on the game is to make them uncomfortable by getting in and applying pressure to them and limiting the time that routes have to develop and some of the concepts that they’re running,” McVay said.


The Rams had a scheduled walk-through. They resume practice Wednesday. ... With kicker Greg Zuerlein nursing a thigh strain, McVay said the Rams might keep a free-agent kicker “close by” in case Zuerlein does not recover in time for the game. “That’s not what we expect, but we will have some guys coming in here on Thursday night,” McVay said. ... Offensive lineman Rob Havenstein (knee) was a full participant in practice last week but was not active against the Cowboys. His status for Saturday has yet to be determined. “Each week we’re just evaluating that situation and waiting for Rob to come back to that point where he is powerful and as strong as he was in the past,” offensive line coach Aaron Kromer said. “That’s still yet to be seen.”