The Niners are soaring, one of two undefeated teams, while the Rams are scuffling a bit, losing at Seattle on a missed late field goal try. San Francisco QB Jimmy Garrapolo has thrown for seven touchdowns, with four interceptions, while the offense leads the league in rushing. The Rams have a minus-four turnover margin. Quarterback Jared Goff has seven interception and the team's 11 giveaways are tied for the most in the league. And Todd Gurley is out today.
By the Football Outsiders advanced statistic of Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average, which accounts for strength of opponent, the 49ers have the N.F.L.’s fourth most efficient offense and its second most efficient defense. By more traditional measures, they are second in scoring (31.8 points a game), fourth in total yards (427.2 a game) and second in total defense (257.5 a game).
Lots of trends going in L.A.’s favor here, but the 49ers’ advantage in the trenches is too much to ignore. Per Pro Football Focus, the 49ers have the NFL’s fifth-best pass rush, while the Rams’ pass-blocking checks in at No. 30. Even worse news for L.A.? Jared Goff has a 68.6 passer rating under pressure this year.
San Francisco allows just 3.8 yards per carry and it’s yet to allow a rushing touchdown. The Niners will take Todd Gurley out of the game and force Goff, who has six picks in his last three games, to throw the ball a ton. The 49ers also have the advantage in many metrics. They’re second in net yards per play, fifth in sack rate and fourth in yards allowed per pass attempt.
The loss of fullback Kyle Juszczyk is terrifying, because he’s so integral to what San Francisco does offensively. But the 49ers don’t seem to have a crippling flaw, and this game could go a long way toward elevating Kyle Shanahan’s status in the coaching ranks relative to Sean McVay’s.
The 49ers have a nice winning formula of running the ball and good defense. They’ve rushed for 259 yards or more in two of their four games, including 275 in their destruction of the Browns. Are the Rams really going to fall three games behind the 49ers? No.
It’s never the best idea to put too much stock into what we just saw. On Monday night, the 49ers looked incredible in blowing out the Browns. Recency bias can be intoxicating. But I’m starting to believe in this 49ers team. They really are sound across the board. This is a fascinating matchup.
The Rams are probably still the best team in the NFC West, despite the 49ers’ perfect start. San Francisco’s defense will finally be tested when they take on a team that hasn’t scored fewer than 23 points in a meaningful home game in two years. Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers’ offense might not be up to the task. Los Angeles is 4-1 against the spread this season.
Their pass rush has been outstanding lately and that will be a factor. But I think the Rams, who will have added rest, will be ready against their division rival.
Since Shanahan was hired in 2017, the 49ers have gone 2-10 against divisional opponents (They went 1-5 in both 2017 and 2018). Even uglier is the fact that one of those wins came in a game where the other team was resting all of its starters (The 49ers beat Sean Mannion and the Rams 34-13 in the 2017 regular season finale). I think what I'm trying to say here is that although I like Shanahan as a coach, he's arguably the third best coach in the division, and it's starting to show. These two teams met twice last year, and the Rams averaged 43.5 points per game. Basically, Sean McVay knows how to attack the 49ers defense and that's likely going to lead to a giant "maybe we're not quite ready to compete in this division" reality check for the 49ers on Sunday.
Great game. The Rams (3-2) are trying to get everything calmed down after losing two straight. The 49ers (4-0) are attempting to prove they belong in the NFC West race. Whoever wins this game will be feeling fantastic about themselves.
The 49ers have been far more impressive than the Rams, but they’ve also played a much easier schedule and find themselves in a disadvantageous situational spot here. Los Angeles has enjoyed three extra days to prepare, coming off Thursday Night Football as opposed to the 49ers playing on Monday Night Football.