Rams vs. 49ers: 4 key matchups to watch on Sunday

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Cameron DaSilva
·3 min read
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The San Francisco 49ers only be 4-6, but one of those four wins came against the Los Angeles Rams and there’s no reason to believe they can’t pull off the upset once again. Having won three in a row against the Rams, the 49ers have had Sean McVay’s number since 2019 began.

But while much of this game will come down to Kyle Shanahan against McVay and Brandon Staley, there are a handful of key matchups on the field that will decide the outcome.

Here are four key battles to watch on Sunday afternoon when these two division rivals square off.

Robert Woods vs. Jason Verrett

(AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

Verrett was a star of the first Rams-49ers meeting this year, shining in coverage by locking down the Rams’ wideouts throughout the night. He broke up two passes and intercepted Jared Goff once, earning an overall grade of 94.0 from Pro Football Focus. He typically plays outside rather than in the slot, so he’ll probably match up most with Robert Woods and Josh Reynolds. The Rams will find more success in the slot with Cooper Kupp going up against Jamar Taylor with K’Waun Williams battling an ankle injury. But if Goff can't connect with Woods very often outside, it’s going to severely limit his options in the passing game.

Leonard Floyd vs. Mike McGlinchey

(AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

Back in Week 6, Floyd was held mostly in check with five tackles, no QB hits and one tackle for loss. That’s a testament to the job McGlinchey did at right tackle, earning an 86.1 overall grade from PFF. He didn’t allow a single pressure in the game, mostly neutralizing Floyd on the edge. Floyd has improved since then and done much better as a pass rusher, and the Rams need him to be at his best Sunday. With the 49ers having a perfect plan for Aaron Donald last time around, Floyd has to give him some help by providing pressure off the edge to force Nick Mullens up in the pocket. And in the running game, Floyd has to set the edge and prevent all of San Francisco’s wide runs.

Troy Reeder vs. 49ers’ running backs

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Micah Kiser has landed on injured reserve, which means Reeder will step in as a starter next to Kenny Young. Reeder didn’t play in the first game against the 49ers, which came right after he had three sacks against Washington, and he’ll be tested often by Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers’ running backs. Last time around, the 49ers used their backs often on wide zone runs, as well as in the passing game. Expect even more of that with Kiser out, stretching the field horizontally and testing Reeder’s range. He’s much better moving north and south, as is Young. If the Rams can't stop the run with Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon, it’ll be a long day.

Fred Warner vs. Rams’ wide zone runs

(AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

Warner has emerged as one of the best linebackers in the league this season and in the first game against the Rams, he had seven tackles. Darrell Henderson had some success with 88 yards on 14 carries, but Warner was around the ball often and helped take away the Rams’ outside running game. Joe Noteboom isn't the run blocker that Andrew Whitworth is, which could limit the Rams when they run to the weak side. Warner is rangy and easily shuts down those wide runs, so Noteboom will have to get to the second level and seal off Warner when the Rams do run off-tackle.

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