The Los Angeles Rams are not only hoping to snap a two-game losing streak, but also to put an end to the San Francisco 49ers’ undefeated start to the 2019 NFL season when they host them in Week 6.
Rams Offense vs. 49ers Defense
Although the Rams suffered their second straight loss at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks in Week 5, the offense was able to show signs of improvement during the second half following another slow start to the game. The most notable performances of the game easily came from wide receiver Cooper Kupp and tight end Gerald Everett, who combined for 16 receptions for 253 yards and a touchdown.
Head coach Sean McVay has struggled to establish a consistent balance in the offense thus far in favor of a more pass-heavy approach. McVay may have to find a way to revert back to what made this group so successful coming into the year if they hope to put some points up against a 49ers defense that has been rather stingy up to this point allowing the second-fewest total yards per game (257.5).
San Francisco put an emphasis on shoring up its pass rush this offseason with the addition of defensive ends Nick Bosa and Dee Ford. It is safe to say that they have already provided plenty of bang for their buck by emerging as one of the more talented edge duos in the league this season with three sacks apiece through four games.
Rams Defense vs. 49ers Offense
The defense had been a strength for Los Angeles while their offense struggled to find its footing to start the year, however, the roles have seemingly switched during their recent two-game skid. To make matters worse, they will be without two of their key veterans in linebacker Clay Matthews and cornerback Aqib Talib versus an offense that has registered the second-most points per game (31.9)
Fortunately, they will be welcoming back two other integral pieces of the defense in safety Taylor Rapp and linebacker Bryce Hager.
Despite the return of a healthy quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo, head coach Kyle Shanahan has opted to feature a heavy run game and it has paid off tremendously. They have largely relied on the backfield duo of Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert to lead the league’s best rushing attack, however, this group was restored to full strength in Week 5 versus the Cleveland Browns with the return of running back Tevin Coleman after he was sidelined with an ankle sprain he suffered in the season opener.
Three Keys To Victory
1.Containing The Run
As mentioned earlier, the 49ers feature the best run game in the NFL that has only gotten better with the return of Coleman. Their three-headed attack was quite potent versus the Browns and they will be looking to establish the run early and often once again.
It is no secret that the Rams have proven to be rather generous porous against the run at times and the absence of Matthews only raises further concern about their stability on the edge. Regardless, having Hager and Rapp back should help to fortify their personnel inside the box.
If they allow San Francisco to get a push up front, Los Angeles could risk losing the time of possession by a significant margin.
2. Take Advantage Of Attention Aaron Donald Garners
Although defensive tackle Aaron Donald has gotten off to slow start in the sacks department, he has still managed to make his presence felt with the constant pressure he generates both in the run game and the passing game. Furthermore, his modest numbers can also be attributed to the fact that he is consistently getting double and triple-teamed on every play.
The only player that was able to reap the benefits of the attention Donald drew was their sack-leader in Matthews and he will be sidelined for presumably the next month. Meanwhile, linebacker Dante Fowler Jr. is now in the midst of a four-game dry spell after registering two sacks in the season opener.
The 49ers will be without both of their starting left tackles in this crucial NFC West matchup so the onus will be on Fowler and the Rams’ edge rush to take full advantage.
3. Establish Balance On Offense
McVay’s offense has become somewhat predictable in recent weeks after Goff threw the ball a whopping 117 times during their consecutive loss. It is safe to say that this had hardly been a recipe for success given the lackluster protection and the time has come for Los Angeles to start getting the defense on their heels by trying to control the line of scrimmage.
Of course, this could be difficult to do now that running back Todd Gurley sidelined with a thigh contusion. McVay indicated that he will now be potentially relying on the backfield tandem of Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson to get the job done versus San Francisco.
Brown will likely get the early-down work and any touches in between the tackles while Henderson fills in during passing situations. Even though the Rams have taken a cautious approach with monitoring Gurley’s touches, they may need to ramp up the touches in the backfield if they hope to keep the 49ers defense on their heels.
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