5 reasons why 49ers ultimately lost NFC championship to Rams

Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) catches a touchdown pass against San Francisco 49ers safety Jaquiski Tartt (3) Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 3: 49ers defense couldn’t contain Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham

As things turned out, San Francisco’s secondary would be the primary problem why the defense wasn’t able to contain Matthew Stafford.

For the most part this season, the 49ers covered this up with an effective pass rush, one which generated only two sacks on Stafford during the game. But the fact the Rams only managed the 20 points still speaks measures about how good the Niners defense could have been.

If it managed to play a bit more effectively on the back end.

Mistakes by Jaquiski Tartt, Jimmie Ward and especially nickel cornerback K’Waun Williams were problematic. Even upstart rookie corner Ambry Thomas looked more like his early season self instead of the promising first-year pro he’d been in recent weeks.

At any rate, and especially in light of San Francisco failing to provide enough double-coverage on Kupp, Stafford managed to throw for 337 yards in the game despite Ward picking him off once.

The Rams’ No. 1 wide receiver, All-Pro Cooper Kupp, was a beast against the 49ers defense, racking up 142 yards on 11 receptions and two touchdowns, while Odell Beckham added another 113 yards on nine catches.

The Niners couldn’t figure out the answer. At all.