Rams finish season in California, and will they stay?
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) The St. Louis Rams finish the season with a weeklong stint in California, and that might just be the start for this franchise in the Golden State.
That's if the Rams relocate to Los Angeles in 2016, of course.
Coach Jeff Fisher has tried to keep an open line of communication with his players about the process and uncertainty, hoping to avoid any potential distractions or questions about what the future holds.
''The important thing is to communicate whenever you get information. The issue here is we don't have any information,'' Fisher said.
Yet, whatever happens next, finishing this season on a strong note sure would mean lot. The Rams (7-8) will try to win a fourth straight game when they play the San Francisco 49ers (4-11) on Sunday. St. Louis stayed in the Northern California wine country of Napa between games after last Sunday's 23-17 victory at Seattle.
The Rams will try for their first three-game winning streak against the 49ers since taking six in a row from 1999-2001, and they seek their first four-game winning streak since seven consecutive victories in 2003.
Fisher looks to avoid a fourth consecutive losing season during his St. Louis tenure.
''You can jump into the offseason program feeling good about yourself,'' Fisher said. ''Those that are eliminated having an opportunity to win the last game, I think it's a positive thing for you.''
Rookie Todd Gurley isn't worried about where his team plays next year. Not yet, though he didn't buy a house in St. Louis.
''You can't control it, so there's no reason to worry about it. That's how I look at it …'' he said. ''We just want to finish on a good note.''
Another future that is unclear is that of 49ers first-year coach Jim Tomsula. He said he sees 49ers CEO Jed York regularly, but all of their conversations so far have focused on the task at hand and not what's ahead.
Tomsula will coach the team until he is told otherwise, he said.
''It's been the same all year,'' Tomsula said.
San Francisco looks to avoid its worst record since going 4-12 in 2005.
Here are some things to watch for in the season finale at Levi's Stadium:
KEENUM'S HURRAH?: Rams quarterback Case Keenum sure could use a memorable final outing of the year.
Keenum is 5-1 over his last six starts dating to his final two games with Houston in 2014, and he is scheduled to become a free agent after the season. Nick Foles struggled this season and was benched in favor of Keenum, but Foles is under contract for 2016.
GABBERT'S AUDITION: Like Keenum, 49ers quarterback Blaine Gabbert wants to land himself in a stable position. He has started seven games since taking over for the demoted and now injured Colin Kaepernick. The 2011 first-round pick by Jacksonville, Gabbert has thrown for 1,677 yards and nine touchdowns with six interceptions and 24 sacks.
''We haven't won a lot of games, but I think we've played pretty clean football,'' he said. ''I've got to do more to win games.''
YELLOW FLAGS GALORE: San Francisco was penalized seven times for offside or neutral zone penalties in last Sunday's loss at Detroit, with seven players accounting for the flags – three of those in a 26-second first-half stretch.
''I believe I said `Watch the ball' 50, 60 times,'' linebacker NaVorro Bowman said in Detroit afterward. ''That's pretty much what you can do. Just remind the guys to watch the ball. They're trying to make a play. I understand that. But we have to be disciplined.''
Tomsula said there's no excuse for it.
GURLEY'S GAME: Gurley has one more chance to cap his strong rookie season. He has just one 100-yard game in the last eight after reaching the mark in his first four starts this year. He has run for 1,106 yards so far, and his last 100-yarder was for 140 yards Dec. 13 against Detroit.
''It's been a pretty decent year, but I would like to make the playoffs,'' he said. ''It'll be something I'll look back at after the season, around about February-March.''
BOWMAN'S YEAR: Bowman leads the NFL with 145 tackles and hopes to end the year at the top.
It would be a big deal for Bowman, who missed all of last season after a serious left knee injury during the NFC championship game at Seattle in January 2014. After all of that, his close friend and defensive mate Patrick Willis – they made up a dominant 1-2 linebacker punch – walked away from the game last spring at age 30.
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- Blaine Gabbert
- Case Keenum
- Colin Kaepernick
- Los Angeles Rams
- NaVorro Bowman
- Nick Foles
- Patrick Willis
- San Francisco 49ers
- Todd Gurley