We have the NFC West showdown on this week’s Monday Night Football edition as the San Francisco 49ers take on the Los Angeles Rams in a game that will determine who takes first place in the division after the first quarter of the season.
San Francisco won six consecutive regular season games against Los Angeles, though the Rams still got their revenge by winning the NFC title game last year. This matchup was expected to look a little different with Trey Lance at the center of the Niners this season, but after Lance’s injury at the end of the season, Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Matthew Stafford will be back again instead.
Will the Niners get seven consecutive regular season victories over division rivals or will the Rams break that streak? We’ll find out soon enough. Before we break down the match, here’s how you can watch the game.
How to watch
Date: Monday 3 October | Time: 8:15 pm ET
Location: Levy Stadium (Santa Clara, California)
TELEVISION: ESPN | Stream: fuboTV (try for free)
To follow: CBS sports app
Chances: 49ers -1.5, O/U 42.5 (Courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook)
When the Rams have the ball
The Rams have some problems on the inside line, with center Brian Allen and defenseman David Edwards expected to miss this game. Each of the 49ers’ starting inside guards, Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw, is listed as dubious. If they can get away, San Francisco could have a significant lead ahead. If they can’t play, it can be neutralized. It looks like it will be a significant turnaround for this matchup, especially after San Francisco owned last season’s matches so thoroughly in the trenches.
Los Angeles has so far returned to something closer to Sean McVeigh’s offense before the arrival of Matthew Stafford last season, using a little more play and center action than a year ago. This is partly due to offensive line issues and partly because receivers outside the Cooper Kupp don’t show up very well in the scattered stuff. The move to more game action, smuggling, fabricated stuff puts these guys in a better position to succeed. But it also potentially opens up more pressure for Stafford because the defense has more time to try to get to him in the pocket.
San Francisco defensive backs got off to a great start, and while the Niners play a lot of soft cover like Cover 2, Cover 4, and Cover 6, their corners actually played closer to draw lines. more often this year. The involvement of Charvarius Ward played a role in this, as his size, outspoken style and physique set the tone for the entire band. However, he is not the only one to hit the opposing pass catchers. Emmanuel Moseley plays well against Ward, Talanoa Hoofanga was one of the NFL’s best defensemen at the start of the season, and Tashaun Gipson and Deommodore Lenoir shone from time to time.
This should be a full defensive effort against the likes of Kupp, especially with fifth-round rookie Samuel Womack being the main cover in two of the three games. (Lenoir played there last week against Denver.) Kupp lines up all over the field, of course, and has a mind meld with Stafford. Last year in this game, he hit 18 combined catches for 240 yards and a touchdown, and so far no other team has found a way to slow him down.
However, the Rams will need more than just Kupp. Allen Robinson hasn’t lived up to expectations so far and could be bought for many Wards outside. This makes McVeigh’s trick of using No. 3 Ben Skowronek in the backfield as a fullback/tight end hybrid because it could allow him to pick up a wide receiver for defense or linebacker and potentially create an advantage. — even if San Francisco has arguably the best pair of linebackers in the league.
In recent weeks, there has been a growing focus on Cam Akers in Los Angeles, despite Darrell Henderson continuing to work more effectively. It just seems like the coaching staff wants Akers to be the leading rundown player and Henderson to work more as a pass changer and pass catcher. Nines. put players in front to limit any of them, especially if Armstead is active in the match.
When the 49ers have the ball
San Francisco has won every one of the last six regular season games between these two teams, thanks in large part to exploits in the run.
In last year’s two games, the 49ers launched 75 times for 291 yards and landed twice, with Elijah Mitchell and Deebo Samuel doing most of the damage. (A year earlier it was Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr., Jamikal Hastie and Jeric McKinnon. Before that it was Mostert, Tevin Coleman and Matt Braida. The first game against the Rams last year was really Samuel’s debut as a running back pack, and it has helped the Niners dominate the battle for possession time In six wins over the last three seasons, San Francisco has averaged nearly 36 minutes of possession to Los Angeles’ 24 and has owned more than 34 minutes in five of six competitions.
Of course, the “nines” were able to do this in those games due to the strength of a very good offensive line. To put it mildly, their group in front is not in the state we are used to seeing. Center forward Alex Mak retired in the offseason. Left tackle Trent Williams is out for several weeks with an ankle injury. Right tackle Mike McGlinchey is no longer the player he once was. Defenders are nowhere near the quality of players like Laken Tomlinson and even Mike Person or Daniel Brunskill.
Thus, it will be more difficult to rely on ground play than it has been in the past. May be. Kyle Shanahan remains the league’s top course designer, and Wilson Jr. has looked pretty good replacing Mitchell this year. The Rams still play defense, which often encourages opponents to control the ball and try to put the ball in play without making a mistake, but that’s what the Niners want to do anyway. Can they do it as consistently as they have in the past is the question, especially with a weaker group inland where Aaron Donald can wreak havoc.
Garoppolo took a win over Lance in Week 2, but last Sunday night against the Broncos, he was terrible. He dropped his hind leg too often without sufficient strength. He ignored a wide-eyed Samuel rushing down the touchline for what was supposed to be a touchdown and missed him in another game that ended up just winning by pieces rather than by score. The Niners need him to deliver the ball not only on time and right on target, but on occasion across the field. Not only can he make sure rolls, but he can also be tricked by a random mugger in a report at the same time (as he did last week).
The Rams have some defensive injury issues at the moment and David Long and Kobe Durant are expected to miss this game. Perhaps San Francisco has an opportunity to bring Samuel and Brandon Ayuk to fast screens from the outside, trying to take advantage of inexperienced corners further down the depth chart.
Score: 49ers 24, Rams 21