LOS ANGELES – There were far-more important NFL games taking place Sunday afternoon in other locations.
Heck, the playoff-bound Los Angeles Rams essentially mailed it in with backups taking over prominent roles while star players rested for next week’s wild-card round of the NFC playoffs.
But the 49ers have been playing to their own tune this season. For virtually the entire year, the 49ers’ every move was made with an eye toward 2018.
And on the final day of the 2017 calendar year, the 49ers saw it as an opportunity to continue to build momentum heading into an offseason that will not feature a new head coach, a new general manager or both.
All Things Red and Gold: San Francisco 49ers 2017-2018 Season Highlights
The 49ers finished the season on a five-game win streak with a 34-13 victory over the Rams. The team’s winning ways coincided with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s promotion into the starting lineup at the beginning of December.
But the day fell far short of perfect, as popular wide receiver Marquise Goodwin sustained a concussion late in the first half and was carted off the field. He was taken to a local hospital for precautionary evaluation, the club announced.
Rams safety Blake Countess delivered an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit on Goodwin, who was running a slant route. Countess was also evaluated for a concussion after the play.
Countess was one of 17 non-starters who took over in the lineup as coach Sean McVay wanted to ensure that his team entered the playoffs with as many healthy starters as possible.
The injury concluded an incredibly trying season for Goodwin, who was ruled out of a game early in the season with a concussion.
On Nov. 12, Goodwin caught an 83-yard touchdown catch in the 49ers’ first win of the season just hours after he and his wife, Morgan, lost their child due to complications in pregnancy.
Two weeks ago, Goodwin caught 10 passes for 114 yards against the Tennessee Titans and revealed afterward his biological father had passed away just days earlier.
Goodwin caught 58 passes for 962 yards – the second-most receiving yards from a player in his first season with the 49ers. In 2013, Anquan Boldin had 1,179 yards after coming to the 49ers in a trade.
On the play after Goodwin’s injury, running back Carlos Hyde – and the offensive line – was clearly motivated to get into the end zone. Hyde scored on an 8-yard run with the final 5 yards coming as the pile pushed past the goal line.
Goodwin scored the 49ers’ first touchdown on Sunday when he caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Garoppolo in the first quarter. Goodwin lined up in the slot, ran back toward Garoppolo at the snap of the ball. Then, Goodwin reversed field and was uncovered on the right side, where he caught the short pass and cruised into the end zone.
Garoppolo had his first multi-interception game in his seven NFL starts. He completed 20 of 33 passes for 292 yards with two touchdown and two interceptions.
Garoppolo missed more throws than he did in his previous four starts, but he dropped in a beautiful pass to tight end Garrett Celek for 28 yards in the middle of the third quarter. On the next play, Hyde scored on a 5-yard run for a 27-6 lead.
Hyde finished with 90 yards and two touchdowns on 15 rushing attempts. He is scheduled to be a free agent in March.
THIS ‘N’ THAT
--Defensive lineman DeForest Buckner left the game in the second quarter with a chest injury. He was originally listed as questionable, but appeared to aggravate the injury when he returned to action. He was ruled out at halftime.
--Cornerback Dontae Johnson sustained a neck “stinger” in the third quarter. He returned to action later in the second half.
--Linebacker Reuben Foster and nickel back K’Waun Williams were shaken up but left the field under their own power after colliding while making a tackle in the fourth quarter.
--Rookie tight end George Kittle caught four passes for his career-high 100 yards, including a 44-yard reception on the first drive of the game.
--Kicker Robbie Gould made field goals of 33 and 48 yards in the first half to help supply the 49ers with a 13-3 lead. Gould entered the game with 37 made kicks on 39 attempts. With a fourth-quarter extra point, Gould set a single-season career-high with 144 points scored on the season.
--Among the Rams standouts who did not play were quarterback Jared Goff, running back Todd Gurley, left tackle Andrew Whitworth, defensive tackle Aaron Donald, and linebackers Mark Barron and Alec Olgletree.
Sean Mannion made the first start of his three-year NFL career. He completed 20 of 34 passes for 169 yards with zero touchdowns and no interceptions.
Among the Rams standouts who did not play were quarterback Jared Goff, running back Todd Gurley, left tackle Andrew Whitworth, defensive tackle Aaron Donald, and linebackers Mark Barron and Alec Olgletree.
--The Rams got their first first down of the game with 2:01 remaining in the first quarter when Buckner was called for roughing the passer on a third-down incompletion. It appeared as if referee Terry McAulay called Buckner for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Mannion.
--Defensive lineman Aaron Lynch, who is set to be an unrestricted free agent in March, was inactive for the ninth time this season. Lynch missed four games with a calf injury but was a healthy inactive for four of the 49ers’ final six games.
--Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon forced a third-quarter fumble after a short pass to rookie tight end Gerald Everett. K’Waun Williams recovered the fumble, which set up Garoppolo’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Aldrick Robinson.