Rams' offense can't produce against NFL-worst 49ers defense

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Rams had just lost for the 10th time in a span of 11 games, suffering a heartbreaking 22-21 defeat to a San Francisco 49ers team that hasn't been able to beat anybody else all season. They lost because their defense gave up two late touchdowns, not to mention a two-point conversion with 31 seconds remaining. But really, they lost because their offense once again couldn't do much of anything.

When it was over, Jared Goff, the rookie quarterback and No. 1 overall pick, addressed the fans.

"We’re appreciative," Goff said, "and we understand where we are. And we know they understand where we are. It’s just hard. It’s hard for all of them; it’s hard for all of us. But I promise you guys, it will get fixed. Everything in my heart and soul to get it all fixed.”

The most disheartening aspect of this game wasn't that the Rams lost for the sixth straight time. It wasn't that they lost at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, a place that has not seen a victory by its NFL team since Sept. 18. It wasn't that they lost a second game to a 49ers team that is 0-13 against the rest of the NFL this season. And it wasn't even that they lost by giving up a 14-point lead with 10 minutes remaining.

It's that their offense couldn't even function against that defense.

The 49ers came in allowing 424.9 yards per game, at least 24 more than anybody else. Teams were averaging 31 points against them, also the highest mark in the NFL. But the Rams -- last in the NFL in first downs, third-down conversions, yards and points -- managed only 177 yards from scrimmage. They scored three touchdowns, but two of them came in the very first quarter, and the third occurred because the Rams' defense caused a fumble that put the ball at the Niners' 25-yard line.

"They’ve been struggling on defense, we’ve been struggling on offense," Rams interim coach John Fassel said. "So a struggling defense was better than a struggling offense today."

The Rams (4-11) entered with an emphasis on running the football, which makes sense against a team that had allowed an NFL-worst 176.3 rushing yards per game this season. But Todd Gurley, who has now failed to reach 100 rushing yards in 22 of his past 23 games, ran for only 67 yards on 23 attempts. Goff, meanwhile, went 11-of-24 for 90 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions -- including the one that clinched the loss -- against a team that had allowed the fourth-highest opponents' Total QBR this season.

The Rams did their best to tinker. They benched their former No. 2 overall pick, Greg Robinson, for the second time in four games, moving Rodger Saffold to left tackle and inserting Jamon Brown in at left guard. They ran Wildcat with Tavon Austin. And when Kenny Britt exited with a shoulder injury -- shortly after becoming the first Rams player to reach 1,000 receiving yards since Torry Holt in 2007 -- they gave most of his snaps to Paul McRoberts, an undrafted rookie who was promoted from the practice squad earlier in the week.

None of it worked.

The new coach, whoever it is, will have his hands full trying to fix this offense.

"We’re obviously going to have some sort of a change this offseason," Goff said. "That’s kind of inevitable. Hopefully with that brings a lot of different stuff that can help change and can fix the issues we have. I don’t think we have bad players. I don’t think we have bad coaches. I think we just need to put it all together. Ultimately, it’s on us.

"And it’s on me. It comes back to the quarterback every time. It’s on me. I need to be better. Every day in practice, I need to be better. Every day on Sundays I need to be better. I promise everyone out there, all Rams fans, I’m going to do everything I can, everything in me, to make that happen and get this thing fixed.”