Behind Enemy Lines: What’s up with the Rams?

The 49ers and Rams are getting their matchups out of the way early this year. A Week 8 showdown at SoFi Stadium national ensures there won’t be any Week 18 drama, but that doesn’t mean the game is without consequence.

Los Angeles is coming out of its Bye at 3-3, a half game up on 3-4 San Francisco for second place in the division. The 49ers are going into their Bye and looking for a 3-0 record against the NFC West. Division record is key in playoff tiebreakers.

While the 49ers and Rams just played in Week 4, both teams go into Week 8 with a little bit different look. We wanted to see where LA was coming out of its bye, so we reached out to Rams Wire managing editor Cam DaSilva to get an idea of what the 49ers are facing Sunday.

Niners Wire: What’s up with Cam Akers?

Joe Rondone-Arizona Republic

CD: Great question! Sean McVay hasn’t said exactly what happened, only that the Rams are trying to trade him and give him a fresh start with another team. There have been reports about philosophical and football-related differences between McVay and Akers, so it sounds like he wants a bigger role and the Rams aren’t willing to give that to him because, well, he hasn’t been very good this season.

NW: Will WR Van Jefferson have an impact this week?

Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

CD: Definitely. He’s not a burner, but he’s certainly the fastest receiver the Rams have outside of Tutu Atwell, who hardly plays. Matthew Stafford called him a receiver who can “do it all,” including stretching the field vertically, which I expect to see him do a few times against the 49ers. The Rams haven’t hit many big plays or deep shots this season, but Jefferson helps in that department.

 

NW: Is it just me or has Matthew Stafford regressed?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

CD: It’s not just you. I think his regression is a little overstated considering the situation around him with a decimated offensive line and no consistent receiver outside of Cooper Kupp, but he’s certainly not playing as well as he was last season. A lot of that has to do with a lack of protection up front and relentless pressure being applied to him in the pocket.

NW: Is the Rams’ defense still a super bowl caliber unit?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

CD: Definitely. It’s actually been very good, on par with how well it played last season. The biggest problem is the lack of a consistent edge rush because Leonard Floyd, Terrell Lewis and Justin Hollins have combined for two sacks. Aaron Donald, Bobby Wagner and Jalen Ramsey are all playing at All-Pro levels, so they mask some of the defense’s holes. But this is a great defense that’s getting healthy now, too.

NW: What’s one thing you hope to see LA fix after the Bye?

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

CD: The offensive line, and it should improve at least a little bit with Brian Allen returning to his starting role after injuring his knee in Week 1. The pass protection has been horrendous all year and the running lanes are tiny, so fixing the offensive line will go a long way.

NW: Prediction, please!

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

CD: The biggest problem for the Rams when they face the 49ers is a lack of physicality. The 49ers dominate them in the trenches, controlling the line of scrimmage on offense and defense. I don’t really see that changing this week. I’ll say the 49ers win, 21-18.

Story originally appeared on Niners Wire