How the Rams and 49ers match up
Rams (3-2) vs. San Francisco (4-0)
When Rams have the ball
Running back Todd Gurley will not play because of a left thigh bruise in last week’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Malcolm Brown and rookie Darrell Henderson will carry the load, and the Rams signed John Kelly from the practice squad to add depth. Henderson has not played on offense since carrying the ball once for no gain in the season opener against the Carolina Panthers. But this is the kind of situation the Rams must have had in mind when they used a third-round pick to select Henderson, the second-leading rusher in the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision last season with Memphis. With Gurley out or possibly slowed, the Rams might continue to rely more heavily on their passing game. Quarterback Jared Goff rebounded from a four-turnover performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and played better against the Seahawks. He has passed for seven touchdowns, with seven interceptions, in an offense that is seeing an increasing role for tight ends Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee. The offensive line will be challenged by a formidable front seven that includes linemen Dee Ford, Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas among others, and linebackers Kwon Alexander, Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw. The secondary is led by cornerback Richard Sherman, who has two of the 49ers’ seven interceptions.
Renewed rivalry between the Rams and 49ers, who meet Sunday, now comes again comes with a winning record. Here’s what legends of the past recall of the rivalry.
When 49ers have the ball
With quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and a trio of productive running backs, third-year coach Kyle Shanahan finally seems to have the pieces in place for a consistently productive offense. Running backs Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman have propelled the 49ers to a league-leading 200 yards rushing per game. The 49ers, however, suffered a major loss when fullback Kyle Juszczyk suffered a knee injury Monday against the Cleveland Browns. The 49ers also are playing with two backup tackles — Justin Skule in place of Joe Staley and Daniel Brunskill in place of Mike McGlinchey. That could make it more difficult for Garoppolo, who has passed for seven touchdowns, with four interceptions, and has been sacked only four times. Tight end George Kittle is Garoppolo’s top target. Receivers Deebo Samuel, Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis also are threats. Because Rams linebacker Clay Matthews, who has a team-best six sacks, suffered a broken jaw against the Seahawks, third-year pro Samson Ebukam will start in his place. Rookie linebacker Troy Reeder could start again in place of Bryce Hager, who is expected to play after sitting out against the Seahawks because of a shoulder injury. Cornerback Aqib Talib will not play because of a rib injury suffered against the Seahawks. Troy Hill will start in his spot.
Samson Ebukam is best known for his stunning performance against the Chiefs last year, but the Rams linebacker wants to prove he can be an everyday starter.
When they kick
Greg Zuerlein must bounce back from a missed 44-yard field-goal attempt that would have won the game at Seattle. Zuerlein has made 12 of 15 field-goal attempts. Kicker Robbie Gould of the 49ers signed an extension before the season that included $10.5 million in guarantees. Gould has made seven of 12 field-goal attempts. He made only one of four in the last game against the Browns.
Gary Klein’s prediction
The Rams have never lost three games in a row since Sean McVay was hired before the 2017 season. But with limited practice opportunities because of the schedule and weather, and Gurley, Matthews and Talib sidelined because of injuries, the Rams could be teetering.
49ERS 31, RAMS 30
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