49ers vs. Rams: 5 Things We Learned in Rams' 34-27 Loss

Doug ZerjalContributor IIJanuary 1, 2012

49ers vs. Rams: 5 Things We Learned in Rams' 34-27 Loss

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    Another season is in the books for the St, Louis Rams and their fans.

    It was another dreadful campaign marred by injuries, inconsistent play and another top-three selection come April's NFL draft.

    On Sunday, the Rams were dominated by a superior San Francisco team only to show life in the fourth quarter.

    During that fourth quarter, the Rams offense came alive and forced the Niners to the brink of losing their grip on a NFC playoff bye next week.

    It didn't go the Rams' way in the end.

    Here are 5 things we learned from the 34-27 loss to the Niners.

The Special Teams Mistake Is Probably the Last Straw for Spags

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    Like it or not, it appears Sunday was the final game of the Steve Spagnuolo era in St. Louis. Spagnuolo went 10-38 in three seasons at the helm.

    In the third quarter, kicker David Akers threw a surprising touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree off a fake field goal. The special teams mistake by St. Louis ended up being the difference in the 34-27 defeat.

    The reality is that many fans will remember the end of the game when the Rams battled back to make it interesting. However, the front office and ownership will probably remember that Akers' pass as a microcosm of the poor play by the Rams all year.

    It may be the last straw in Spagnuolo's tenure as the head man in St. Louis.

The Rams Must Keep Brandon Lloyd

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    There's bound to be a lot of change for the Rams this offseason.

    There probably should be, after a 2-14 disaster of a season. That being said, the Rams need to keep Brandon Lloyd. Lloyd showed he has plenty of time left as a productive player in the league.

    On Sunday, Lloyd caught six passes for 100 yards and a touchdown. He has been the Rams' best offensive player outside of Steven Jackson this season. He would be a great receiver on this team next year and beyond.

    Given a better offensive line, Sam Bradford's growth as a passer would be helped by the presence of a veteran receiver like Lloyd.

    Here's hoping he stays for 2012.

Lance Kendricks Has Potential

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    Rams fans saw the good and bad of Lance Kendricks on Sunday.

    Kendricks had a key first-half drop that would have allowed the Rams to get a first down. That was the bad.

    The good was that Kendricks showed some great potential on Sunday. He caught three passes for 54 yards including a key 22-yard gain in the second half. He has the physical tools to be a solid tight end in the NFL.

    Remember that the organization drafted him with the idea that his versatility as an H-back, tight-end hybrid would be difficult for opposing defenses to stop.

    Given the right system, and surrounding receiving threats, Kendricks could become a great weapon for the Rams going forward.

The Rams Should Go Offense with the Second Pick

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    The Rams have many holes on both sides of the ball.

    However, they must draft an impact offensive player with their first-round selection in the NFL draft come April.

    Whether the Rams draft a receiver (like Justin Blackmon, pictured here) or draft an offensive tackle, the offense must be the area of concentration there.

    The team can then go after its defensive needs in Round 2 or trade back into Round 1 if there's a player they covet.

    It's not a debate for St. Louis; it's a receiver or a tackle in the first round.

Kellen Clemens Should Stay

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    Kellen Clemens did a solid job as the fill in Rams' quarterback at the end of this season.

    His play was good enough that he should be the No. 2 quarterback for the team next season. He's a veteran, savvy with the football and a solid scrambler (as evidenced by his first quarter rushing touchdown).

    Rams fans should hope Clemens is OK after his leg injury in the fourth quarter.

    He would be a valuable backup next season if he's kept around.