- Associated Press - Thursday, December 22, 2016

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) - Rookie quarterback Jared Goff is expected to start for the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday after clearing the NFL’s concussion protocol.

Interim coach John Fassel said Thursday that Goff will start for the Rams (4-10) against the San Francisco 49ers (1-13). Sean Mannion will replace Case Keenum as Goff’s backup, the coach also announced.

Goff participated fully in the Rams‘ past two practices. The No. 1 pick in last spring’s draft claims he felt no ill effects from a hard hit from Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman last week.

“I felt fine,” Goff said. “He hit me in the head, but I was fine. It was just a regular hit. I got up, went back to the huddle. I heard the official blow the whistle, and they’re like, ‘You have to get off the field.’ I’m like, ‘Why?’”

Goff got leveled by Sherman at the end of a 15-yard run in the Rams‘ 24-3 loss at Seattle last Thursday.

“If I had seen him, I probably would have gone out of bounds,” Goff said. “I didn’t see him. He kind of came out of nowhere. He made a hell of a play. After watching it on film, he came all the way from the other side of the field.”

Goff still hasn’t won in his five career starts for the Rams, who have lost five straight and nine of 10.

The rookie has been beaten up in his brief career, getting sacked 14 times in the last four games behind the Rams‘ struggling offensive line. He has completed only 54.7 percent of his passes with five interceptions and four touchdowns.

Fassel said Goff realizes he needs to be more careful, particularly when running the ball.

“I do need to protect myself a little better, and try to balance the going-for-its and protecting my body,” Goff said.

Goff grew up in the Bay Area rooting for the 49ers, but he didn’t get to play in the Rams‘ season-opening loss in Santa Clara.

Mannion has been promoted from the No. 3 role to allow the Rams to get a look at the former third-round pick before the season ends. The Oregon State product and fellow Bay Area native saw the only playing experience of his two-year NFL career last season in a game against Cincinnati.

The Rams haven’t had a winning season since 2003 or made the playoffs since 2004.

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For more NFL coverage: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL


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