Why 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo faces stiff challenge vs. Rams in Week 16

Matt Maiocco
NBC Sports BayArea

SANTA CLARA -- Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will get a second chance against the Los Angeles Rams for the 49ers on Saturday night at Levi's Stadium.

Despite Garoppolo being in the NFL for six seasons, this marks only the second time in his career he is facing the same team twice in the same season. The other such occurrence happened within a three-week span this season when the 49ers twice narrowly defeated the Arizona Cardinals.

The 49ers are in a position to earn the NFC West title and home-field advantage in the playoffs with back-to-back wins to close out the regular season. It all starts Saturday against the Rams.

On Oct. 13, Garoppolo had one of his statistically worst days of the season when he completed 24 of 33 pass attempts for 243 yards with no touchdowns and one interception in the 49ers' 20-7 victory over the Rams.

"He made a number of plays in that game, some plays a lot of people can't make," coach Kyle Shanahan said on 49ers Game Plan, which airs Saturday on NBC Bay Area at 1 p.m.

"He also missed a number, too. But Jimmy's not missing as many [now]. He's been a lot more consistent with it over this last month. I think he's been playing at a very high level."

The Rams look a lot different than they did in October, when Marcus Peters was starting at cornerback. Since then, the 49ers traded Peters and Aqib Talib and acquired Jalen Ramsey in a deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Los Angeles' defense is still centered around defensive lineman Aaron Donald, one of the most disruptive players in the NFL.

"Obviously, [they have] some different personnel," Garoppolo said. "Dealing with trades, injuries, whatever it is. They're playing fast right now, their defense is. They've got, obviously up front, Aaron is unbelievable, but that whole D-Line as a group is very talented. They make it difficult on you. We've got to play on time, get the ball out on time and things like that."

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On the season, Garoppolo has completed 69.1 percent of his pass attempts for 3,445 yards and 26 touchdowns. He has thrown for more yards and touchdowns than any 49ers quarterback in a single season since Jeff Garcia threw for 3,538 yards and 32 touchdowns in 2001.

In the 49ers' 29-22 loss to the Atlanta Falcons last week, Garoppolo finished with a passer rating of under 110.0 for only the second time in eight games. He completed 22 of 34 passes for 200 yards. Half of his pass attempts were directed toward tight end George Kittle, who caught 13 passes for 134 yards.

"I know we didn't play great on offense last week. But I didn't think that was mainly because of Jimmy," Shanahan said. "I think he didn't have a lot of time. We were pretty conservative with some of the stuff we were doing.

"But I know Jimmy's pumped to get back out there. I know he's got a chance to win the game any time we put it in his hands. We'll see if we need to do that. We'll see how this game goes. Hopefully, our defense can play like it did last time. And I think our offense will play better."

Why 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo faces stiff challenge vs. Rams in Week 16 originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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