Rams vs. 49ers matchups: Jared Goff, offense look to build off win at Tampa Bay
When Rams have the ball: Quarterback Jared Goff and wide receivers Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp rediscovered their timing last Monday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Goff is riding high after passing for three touchdowns and engineering a game-winning field-goal drive in the fourth quarter. Woods, Kupp and Josh Reynolds are Goff’s primary targets, but rookie Van Jefferson continued to ascend with his first touchdown catch in the win over the Buccaneers. Tight end Tyler Higbee will be a game-time decision because of an elbow injury, so Gerald Everett and Johnny Mundt could share snaps. Darrell Henderson rushed for 88 yards in a 24-16 loss to the 49ers on Oct. 18. He and Malcolm Brown are expected to get the majority of the carries, but rookie Cam Akers’ role could continue to grow after he scored his first touchdown last week. The 49ers could welcome back cornerback Richard Sherman, who has been sidelined since mid-September because of a calf injury. The 49ers began the season with a formidable defensive line that was ravaged by injuries and COVID-19. Linemen Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw came off the reserve/COVID-19 list last week.
Rams rookie safety Jordan Fuller has performed well as a starter, but his mom, Cindy Mizelle, sings with some of music’s biggest acts, including Bruce Springsteen.
When 49ers have the ball: With quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo sidelined because of an ankle injury, Nick Mullens will start for the fifth time this season. He has passed for six touchdowns with six interceptions. In a 27-13 defeat to the New Orleans Saints on Nov. 15, Mullens completed 24 of 38 passes for 247 yards and a touchdown, with two interceptions. Star tight end George Kittle remains sidelined because of a foot injury, but the 49ers would get a boost if running back Raheem Mostert and receiver Deebo Samuel are able to play after being taken off injured reserve. San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan seems to find ways to make it tough on the Rams. The Rams boast the NFL’s top-ranked defense but they will be without linebacker Micah Kiser for at least three games because of a knee injury. Troy Reeder will start in Kiser’s place for the second time this season. In a 30-10 victory over Washington, Reeder had a team-best 11 tackles and three sacks. Rookie outside linebacker Terrell Lewis is out because of a knee injury. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey leads a secondary that also includes rookie safety Jordan Fuller, who had two interceptions against the Buccaneers. Star lineman Aaron Donald looks to end a streak of two games without a tackle.
When they kick: Matt Gay kicked two field goals against the Buccaneers, including the game-winner, in his debut with the Rams. He also missed an attempt, but coach Sean McVay sounded confident his team’s place-kicking woes have ended. Johnny Hekker averages 46.2 yards per punt. Robbie Gould has made 13 of 14 field-goal attempts for the 49ers. Mitch Wishnowsky averages 47.9 yards per punt.
Gary Klein’s prediction: The Rams lost their last three games against the 49ers, but that streak will end as McVay’s team builds on momentum from victories over the Seattle Seahawks and Buccaneers.
RAMS 27, 49ERS 23
Rams linebacker Troy Reeder will start Sunday in place of Micah Kiser, who was put on injured reserve after suffering a knee injury at Tampa Bay.
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