The 49ers head into Sunday’s game on the back of a 30-33 defeat to the Green Bay Packers, a game that was given away rather than taken by the Packers.
Sunday’s game at Levi’s Stadium see the undefeated Los Angeles Rams visit the injury ravaged San Francisco 49ers with the Niners holding a slender series lead over their longtime rivals 69-65-3.
The last meeting between these NFC West statesmen saw the 49ers beat Rams 34-13 on Dec. 31, 2017 after the team from Los Angeles rested most of their starters for the playoffs.
The rivalry between the teams is not confined to football, fans of the cities baseball & basketball teams hold no love for each other either.
Sunday’s game isn’t a case of how do the Rams come away with the win, it’s more how do the 49ers stop the juggernaut of an offence Sean McVay has assembled in the City of Angels.
San Francisco’s troubles are well documented, losing RB1 5 days before week 1 to a non-contact injury and then 3 weeks later losing QB1 to another non-contact knee injury; these were devastating setbacks to the Faithful of San Francisco but have to an extent been managed as well as you could expect and put Matt Breida into the spotlight rising up into the top 5 RB’s this season.
CJ Beathard has shown progression since his rookie season and was within 1 interception of taking a team of backups into Lambeau Field and embarrassing Aaron Rodgers and the Packers on Monday Night Football, this from a guy that has only started 8 games.
The real problem in San Francisco is the lack of pass rush, the quality of the cornerbacks opposite the sublime Richard Sherman and the propensity to shoot themselves in the foot with turnovers.
For the Rams to lose this latest encounter the 49ers will need to get pressure on Jared Goff and that is a big ask against one of the best Olines in the NFL however, the 49ers did manage to get pressure on Rodgers last week and recorded 3 sacks and 7 TFL’s. San Francisco fans will be hoping the tide has turned and another performance from the Dline and DE’s will keep the game close going into the 4th quarter.
That doesn’t however sort the Niners problems at Cornerback and with a potent Rams passing attack you have to wonder whether the game will be out of reach by halftime. Ward has been ruled out of the game which leaves Witherspoon (if he comes through the concussion protocol ok) and Greg Mabin who was shredded throw after throw in the final minutes of the game against the Packers as the RCB opposite Sherman.
The 49ers run defence has been one of the best and will need to perform at a high level to nullify Todd Gurley who is putting up MVP type numbers, this will be a huge test for the defence and one which I think they will relish.
On the other side of the ball the Niners Oline have improved week on week and have a pair of tackles putting in Pro-bowl level performances, they will need to be at their best to contain both Suh & Donald.
The Niners will need to stay true to their running game in the hope it will open up the passing attack; for this to be successful Beathard will need to learn from some poor throws over the last couple of games, if he does there are favourable matchups between the 49ers receivers and the Rams Cornerbacks who have had somewhat of a poor start to the season (possibly their weakest link which is very surprising given how well they have performed in previous years).
On paper the Rams should walk away with this game and at 9.5+ point favs they are good value however, don’t let the 49ers W/L stats fool you, this team is only 2-3 starters away from being relevant, and have set the record for most losses by 3 points or less over the last 20 games. Look for the Niners to just about cover the 9.5 spread in a relatively high scoring game with the Rams edging it 38-30.
Matchup to watch: McGlinchey vs Donald
Player to watch: Marquise Goodwin
Prediction: 38-30 Rams
Preview kindly written by 49er Faithful UK.
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