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Lack of passing attack again dooms Rams against 49ers

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Looking back at how the St. Louis Rams fared in three key areas of Sunday's 19-16 loss to the San Francisco 49ers:

1. Who runs it? As expected, the Rams played this game without the services of injured rookie running back Todd Gurley. Gurley sat out with a "mild turf toe," coach Jeff Fisher said. That left the Rams leaning on backs Tre Mason, Benny Cunningham, Tavon Austin and even recently promoted Malcolm Brown.

As it turned out, the final numbers weren't bad as the Rams rushed for 133 yards on 33 carries. The problem was consistency. The Rams gained 77 of those yards on four carries, which meant they had just 56 yards on their other 29 attempts, an average of 1.93 yards. That wasn't enough to keep the chains moving consistently or get the Rams in the end zone other than the only time they did it following a takeaway and great field position from the defense.

2. Getting after Gabbert: The Rams were in San Francisco quarterback Blaine Gabbert's face for most of the day, hitting him seven times. But they weren't able to get enough pressure on him to keep him from lighting them up. Gabbert threw for 354 yards with a touchdown and an interception and repeatedly moved the pocket with his legs and made big plays down the field. When he wasn't doing that, Gabbert was able to find checkdowns for easy yards.

The defense mostly did its job keeping the 49ers out of the end zone, but the big plays allowed Gabbert and Co. the chance to put the game away in overtime. They did.

3. Adding to the aerial attack: With Gurley out, there was no doubt the Rams needed more from the passing game in this one, as evidenced by quarterback Case Keenum's 37 attempts. Keenum had a couple of good moments, including an early strike on a deep ball to receiver Kenny Britt. Ultimately, Keenum's 22-of-37 for 231 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions wasn't enough to make up for Gurley's absence and get the Rams in the end zone with any sort of frequency.

To be fair, Keenum got little in the way of help from his receivers. A number of drops cost the Rams big plays but Keenum also misfired on third-down attempts that should have been pitch-and-catch for first downs.