Rams (1-1) at San Francisco (0-2)
Thursday, 5:25 p.m. PDT. TV: NFL Network
When Rams have the ball
Quarterback Jared Goff needs to bounce back from last week’s 27-20 loss against the Washington Redskins, which included an intercepted pass on the Rams’ final play. Up until that point, the second-year pro mostly had done a good job extending plays, giving receivers a chance to get behind coverage. Goff is completing 66% of his passes, two for touchdowns, with one interception. Running back Todd Gurley showed signs that he might be on the verge of finally breaking out. He had 88 yards and a touchdown in 16 carries against Washington and continued to show that he can be a receiving threat. Gurley scored on an 18-yard touchdown pass play that included Gurley hurdling a defender. Rookie tight end Gerald Everett and receiver Cooper Kupp have emerged as playmakers. Coach Sean McVay is looking for ways to maximize receiver Sammy Watkins, who had only two targets against Washington. He is also trying to find the best way to use Tavon Austin. The 49ers gave up 312 yards in Sunday’s 12-9 loss against the Seattle Seahawks. Linebacker NaVorro Bowman is the cornerstone for a defense that also features linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong and is giving up 299.5 yards and 17.5 points per game. Safety Eric Reid will not play because of a knee injury.
When 49ers have the ball
With journeyman Brian Hoyer as their starting quarterback, the 49ers appear to be aiming toward the 2018 draft and a chance to select a franchise quarterback. Hoyer, a 10th-year pro, completed 15 of 27 passes for 99 yards, with an interception, in Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks. The 49ers have yet to score a touchdown. They do feature versatile running back Carlos Hyde — and that could be bad news for a Rams team that gave up 229 yards rushing against the Redskins. Hyde had 124 yards in 15 carries against the Seahawks. He also caught three passes for 19 yards. The 49ers signed Pierre Garcon to a big free-agent contract, but without a frontline quarterback his effectiveness could be limited. Marquise Goodwin is a potential deep threat. The Rams must show they have corrected the problems that plagued their run defense against Washington. They appeared especially vulnerable to runs off the left side. Lineman Aaron Donald is expected to play more — and play better — than he did in his first game since ending a holdout. Linebacker Alec Ogletree said the Rams did not play physical enough. The secondary is in flux again because of cornerback Kayvon Webster’s uncertain status (shoulder injury). The 5-foot-8 Nickell Robey-Coleman played in Webster’s place against Washington.
When they kick
Maybe this should be if they kick. Rams punter Johnny Hekker completed his eighth career pass last week on a fake punt against the Redskins. When he’s not throwing to receivers, he remains the NFL’s best at his position. Greg Zuerlein has made all five of his field-goal attempts. Pharoh Cooper is an improving kickoff return threat. Tavon Austin returns punts. Kicker Robbie Gould has accounted for all of the 49ers points with a field goal in the opener against Carolina and three field goals against the Seahawks.
Gary Klein’s prediction
The Rams routed the Indianapolis Colts and challenged the Redskins into the final minute. The 49ers have not found the end zone. Rams coach Sean McVay lost in the matchup against mentor Jay Gruden but he has more weapons than fellow first-year coach Kyle Shanahan. Rams 30, 49ers 16.
Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein