The Rams and 49ers have met eight times since the start of the 2019 season, and the Rams have won just one of those games – which was the big one in the NFC Championship. But otherwise, the 49ers have owned the Rams, more so than any other team in the NFL.
Can the Rams snap that seven-game regular-season losing streak on Sunday? There are some legitimate concerns about that happening. Below are the four biggest worries for the Rams.
Protecting Matthew Stafford
As it is every week, the Rams’ top priority has to be protecting Stafford, something they haven’t done a very good job of this season. That’s going to be a big challenge this week against the 49ers’ front, which is led by Nick Bosa. He’ll be matched up with Alaric Jackson for much of the game, testing the second-year undrafted free agent.
This will be Jackson’s first career start at left tackle so he’s going to face a huge challenge against Bosa. If Arik Armstead returns and plays, that’ll make life even tougher for the interior of the Rams’ offensive line, which could be starting Bobby Evans and Oday Aboushi.
Lacking an efficient running game again
The Rams have one of the worst rushing attacks in the NFL, averaging just 3.4 yards per attempt and 70.5 yards per game on the ground. Against the 49ers in Week 4, they had just 57 yards rushing on 18 attempts. The Rams don’t need to run the ball heavily to be successful, but they need to be efficient when they do hand it off, especially on first and second down.
If they get stuffed against the 49ers’ solid run defense, it’ll make third down even more challenging.
Containing Christian McCaffrey in the open field
The Rams missed five tackles against McCaffrey in Week 6, and not just when he ran the ball. He was elusive in the open field as a receiver, and you can bet Kyle Shanahan will try to get him involved more heavily in that area, especially if Deebo Samuel can’t play.
Missed tackles kill a defense, especially when those attempted tackles come short of the sticks and the ball carrier is able to pick up the first. The Rams can’t whiff against McCaffrey the way they did two weeks ago.
The Rams have scored 10 points in the fourth quarter all season, averaging 1.7 points per game in the final frame. That’s the second-worst average in the NFL. The 49ers have been pretty good defensively in the fourth quarter, allowing 5.3 points per game in the fourth, so the Rams could have some trouble putting points on the board as the game winds down.
It’s important for Los Angeles to grab a lead in the first half to avoid falling further behind if the game is close in the third and fourth quarter.