The 7-2 Los Angeles Rams will be looking to bounce back from a Week 9 disappointment when they take on their in-division rivals the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football.
The 49ers have largely disappointed during the 2021 season, but Kyle Shanahan has gotten the best of Sean McVay and the latter will be looking to pick up a rare victory over his former colleague.
Rams Offense vs. 49ers Defense
It was a bittersweet welcome for the newly-signed Odell Beckham Jr. as Los Angeles announced Robert Woods suffered a torn ACL at Friday’s practice and will miss the remainder of the year. Beckham is expected to make his Rams debut and will be instantly thrust into an important role as McVay looks to production from his receivers.
Cooper Kupp will remain Matthew Stafford’s first read, but Van Jefferson will presumably be funneled additional targets while Beckham learns the playbook and gets acclimated. Meanwhile, rookie Ben Skowronek will reportedly assume Woods’ role in the offense which means he will be heavily involved in the blocking concepts as well as a possible jet sweep option that McVay likes to run.
On the other side of the ball, San Francisco still boasts one of the best defensive lines headlined by Nick Bosa and their secondary has been one of the stingiest units in the NFL as they give up just a shade over 206 receiving yards a game. However, they are more susceptible to run plays as they are middle in the pack, which means McVay would be wise to feed Darrell Henderson Jr.
Rams Defense vs. 49ers Offense
Von Miller is likely to make his awaited debut after sitting out last week with an ankle injury. It is hard to imagine Miller playing many snaps in his first game in a few weeks, but he will likely be in on passing downs where he, Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd can wreak havoc on a 49ers offensive line that just lost Mike McGlinchey to a torn quad.
San Francisco will try to keep the explosive Los Angeles offense off the field as long as possible which means the latter should expect a steady diet of runs from the former’s backfield. Jimmy Garoppolo has been inconsistent on the year but has his full assortment of receivers in Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle. All three are dangerous after the catch, so the Rams will need to be disciplined in the open field and make tackles in order to limit the damage.
Keys To Victory
1. Play mistake free
Stafford was uncharacteristically off against the Tennessee Titans as he threw two brutal picks, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Stafford struggled when he was pressured up the middle, so he will need to be more willing to take the short gains in the middle of the field and the flat instead of looking the explosive plays downfield.
The 49ers have always played the Rams physically and that has often resulted in them struggling to move the football. L.A.’s offensive line has been one of the best in the league so far and will need to continue to play well in order to keep the offense moving.
2. Establish the ground game
Even though Kupp, Beckham, and Jefferson all have enough talent to get open, the 49ers will be prepared to take away as much of the passing game as possible which means McVay needs to ride Henderson early and often. The running back has been solid toting the football, so making sure he gets touches on early downs will be crucial.
Sony Michel would also be a decent option on drives as a north-south runner who plays physical and is able to churn for extra yardage. Henderson and Michel could play huge roles in ensuring the Rams come away with an important win ahead of the team’s bye week.