Rams vs. 49ers: 5 things to know for Week 10 matchup

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For the first time this season, the Rams and 49ers will square off in Week 10. It’s a prime-time matchup on Monday Night Football as both teams try to bounce back from losses in Week 9.

The 49ers haven’t lived up to expectations the way the Rams have, but they’ve had Los Angeles’ number with four straight wins since 2019. These two teams typically play close contests that come down to the wire, and even though the Rams look like the better team on paper, they can’t take the 49ers lightly.

Here are four things to know for this upcoming NFC West showdown.

49ers have won four straight vs. Rams

It’s hard to believe but the rams haven’t beaten the 49ers since 2018. San Francisco has swept Sean McVay’s team in each of the last two years, its first four-game winning streak against the Rams since 2008-2010.

The Rams had won three of their first four games against the 49ers after McVay took over in 2017 but San Francisco figured out ways to slow down L.A.’s offense. In three of the last four games against the 49ers, the Rams have scored 20 or fewer points. Now that Robert Saleh is in New York, however, perhaps the Rams will have an easier time moving the ball.

Rams lead NFL in empty sets, 49ers among worst at defending them

With Matthew Stafford at quarterback, McVay has strayed away from his play action-heavy approach. The Rams have used a ton of empty backfields, splitting everyone out and leaving Stafford alone behind the offensive line. They’ve used empty sets a league-high 19% of the time and for the most part, Stafford has found success in those sets.

The 49ers have struggled to defend empty sets this season due to their thin secondary, which bodes well for the Rams. According to Nick Wagoner, the 49ers are 30th in opponent QBR and 31st in yards per attempt allowed against empty sets.

Cooper Kupp and Deebo Samuel are 1st and 2nd in receiving yards

Kupp and Samuel have both enjoyed breakout seasons in 2021, erupting in the first half of the year. Kupp leads the league with 1,019 yards and Samuel ranks second with 882 yards. Samuel is only averaging 2.9 yards per game fewer than Kupp and they’ll be the first receivers in NFL history to square off in Week 7 or later while averaging at least 110 yards per game, according to Wagoner.

It’ll be interesting to see if the Rams use Jalen Ramsey to cover Samuel on most snaps because he’s by far their best weapon on offense. On the flip side, Kupp has a favorable matchup against a subpar 49ers secondary.

Rams and 49ers among 10 worst in defensive pressure rate

The Rams lead the league with 28 sacks but according to Pro Football Reference, they’re only 27th in pressure rate (22.5%). The 49ers aren’t much better, ranking 24th in that category with a pressure rate of 23.3%.

Pro Football Focus has given the Rams the third-best pass-rush grade in the NFL this season, significantly better than the 17th-ranked 49ers, but it’s worth noting the Rams’ lower pressure rate.

Matthew Stafford and Jimmy Garoppolo don’t face much pressure

Speaking of pressure, Stafford and Garoppolo haven’t been under much of it this season. According to Pro Football Reference, Stafford has been pressured on only 13.5% of his drop backs this season, second-lowest in the NFL. Garoppolo isn’t far behind at 20.3%, which ranks him seventh.

It’s no surprise that the Rams have the highest PFF pass-blocking grade in the NFL at 80.3, with the 49ers ranking seventh with a grade of 72.0. There will probably be plenty of clean pockets for both quarterbacks on Monday night.

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