Preview of Week 6 Matchup – The San Francisco 49ers versus the Los Angeles Rams: Four Point Stance

by Rick Harriman
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The Los Angeles Rams go back on the road again, but this time it is just a few hours North instead of the East coast. The San Francisco 49ers will host the Rams at Levi’s Stadium on Sunday, 10/18 at 8:20 PM ET.

1st Stance: Offense

The 49ers (2-3) will likely have their full offensive squad for the first time since week 1. Since that time, the 49ers have had injuries to All Pro TE George Kittle, QB Jimmy Garappolo, RB Raheem Mostert and Deebo Samuel. With a full week of practice, they should be as ready as ever and in a division game, anything can happen and the Rams can expect the best shot the 49ers can give. Do not bet on Jimmy G getting benched like he did last week against the Miami Dolphins. Garappolo struggles with passes outside the numbers, look for an attack to the middle of the field where the Rams are going to have to cover the short to intermediate throws. If he can win there, it will open up the run game.

The Rams offense had a bounce back game last week against the Washington Football Team (WFT) and quarterback Jared Goff (averaging 2 TDs a game in his career against the 49ers) seems to like playing in San Francisco:

And, as it was Goff’s birthday this week, a gift to all of us for the 26 year old:

Proof that the Rams offense is clicking on all cylinders? per PFF:

The 49ers seem to be experiencing a SuperBowl hangover that Rams fans can certainly understand – normally the nod would go to the home team in this matchup, but given how well the Rams offense has played in 4 of their 5 games and how unbalanced the 49ers have been on offense all season, edge to the Rams.

2nd Stance: Defense

The 49ers have played arguably the worst two teams in the NFL to this point in the New York Jets and Giants, which accounts for their two wins. They have losses against teams that are arguably in the bottom third in Miami and Philadelphia and the other loss is to Arizona. Combined records for these teams when they are not playing the 49ers is 3-16-1. They are dangerously thin at cornerback and had to call up Jamar Taylor last week from the practice squad which does not bode well.

The Rams on the other hand are only getting better on defense, and the defense has been good all season. Last week they had 8 sacks and after allowing an opening drive touchdown to the WFT, they only gave up 3 points for the remainder of the game. The defense is ranked 4th by PFF and Aaron Donald was named defensive player of the week, he’ll be aiming for a second week in a row. The Rams have only given up more than 20 points to an opponent once this season.

Brandon Staley is finding ways to make this defense very dangerous even with injuries and moving parts, advantage Rams.

3rd Stance: Special Teams

The 49ers have an edge in the kicking game for this matchup. Robbie Gould is experienced and accurate at 8 for 9 on the season, his only miss from over 50 yards and his longest this season at 52 yards. The Rams rookie Samuel Sloman is 6 of 8 for field goals but has missed a couple extra point attempts this season and the jury is still out on him. Sloman has only attempted one FG over 40 yards at it was a miss, so he has not really been tested. Bright spot for the Rams is punter Johnny Hekker – last week he was able to put four of his punts out of bounds inside the 10 yard line. Advantage 49ers, but not by much.

4th Stance: Intangibles

For this matchup, there are some storylines that are worth mentioning:

  • Coaching – Sean McVay versus Kyle Shanahan. Both came up under Jon Gruden and were on the same staff in Washington. If familiarity breeds contempt, they must hate each other. Both are considered Wunderkin, models for the next-gen of coaches. Both have been to, and lost, a Superbowl as a head coach. They have faced each other 6 times, both have 3 wins each but Shanahan has the last 2 in a row. This is a push for this week.
  • Trend/Mojo – The stock is down for the 49ers as they are on a two-game losing streak, including a 43-17 drubbing by Miami last week. The Rams stock is way up as they are on a two-game winning streak and 4-1 overall. Mojo is with the Rams for this matchup.
  • Bulletin Board – The Rams announced earlier in the season that they had planned to wear the Bone uniforms for this game, the 49ers announced this week that they would be wearing white and therefore forcing the Rams to change. While this may seem miniscule, it will serve as anger fodder:


Record aside, the Rams might be the best-balanced team in the NFL:

NFC? How about NFL:

Rams fans are calling for a blowout, but this game will be closer than Rams fans would like as division gams tend to be: Rams prevail 24-20.

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