5 key matchups to watch in Rams vs. 49ers on Sunday

Round 2 of Rams vs. 49ers is already here, despite it only being Week 8. It’s the second (and last) time these teams will meet this season, barring a potential playoff meeting again in January.

The Rams are healthier now than they were in Week 4 when they visited Levi’s Stadium, but the 49ers also have Christian McCaffrey, Trent Williams and Jimmie Ward now after none of the three were on the field four weeks ago.

Here are five key matchups to watch during this NFC West matchup on Sunday.

Cooper Kupp vs. Jimmie Ward

Ward is playing the nickel role for San Francisco, which means he’ll be tasked with covering Kupp in the slot. Ward is a solid defender, but that’s a matchup that favors Kupp. In Week 4 against the 49ers, Ward was unavailable so Kupp was covered by Deommodore Lenoir, who gave up five catches on six targets. In total, Kupp caught 14 passes for 122 yards, but getting the ball into his hands will be tougher this time around with Ward in the slot.

What will help the Rams is the return of Van Jefferson, who’s making his season debut after missing six games with a knee injury. He’ll take attention away from Kupp.

Alaric Jackson vs. Nick Bosa

This will be Jackson’s first career start at left tackle and he won’t be eased into things because Bosa will be lining up across from him. That’s an incredibly difficult matchup for the second-year lineman, but not one he can’t handle.

Jackson played really well against the Panthers in Week 6 after Joe Noteboom went down. Bosa is powerful and brings a variety of pass-rush moves, so Jackson will need to be prepared for everything. Andrew Whitworth has raved about Bosa in the past, calling him one of the strongest young pass rushers he’s ever faced.

Jalen Ramsey vs. Deebo Samuel

Samuel wasn’t targeted a single time with Ramsey in coverage in Week 4, doing most of his damage against Derion Kendrick, Grant Haley and Ernest Jones. That should change on Sunday if the Rams want to limit the damage Deebo does.

Ramsey moves all over the field, as does Samuel. That makes it tough to keep Ramsey on him throughout the game, but Samuel is the 49ers’ biggest weapon – yes, even with Christian McCaffrey on the team now.

Christian McCaffrey vs. Bobby Wagner

McCaffrey caught two passes on two targets against Wagner in Week 6, gaining 53 yards on those plays. He was equally elusive in the running game, forcing two missed tackles. Wagner didn’t miss any of his tackle attempts, but as a team, the Rams whiffed seven times, five of which were against McCaffrey.

The 49ers will unleash McCaffrey more this week after limiting his role in his debut a week ago, so the Rams will have their hands full with him and Samuel. Wagner and Ernest Jones will need to be at their best and ensure they get McCaffrey on the ground on their first attempt.

Aaron Donald vs. Aaron Banks

One Aaron is a seven-time All-Pro and future Hall of Famer. The other is a second-year guard making the eighth start of his career. Banks may not be a household name, but he’s had a solid season and is coming off his best performance against the Chiefs.

Banks allowed two pressures in Week 4 against the Rams and hasn’t given up a sack all season, something Donald will try to change. The Rams will move Donald around to get him the best possible matchups, but expect to see him aligned across from Banks a bunch.

Story originally appeared on Rams Wire