NFL Week 6: Key Matchups And Prediction For 49ers-Rams

Forbes Finance 1 month ago
San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams
The San Francisco 49ers will take on the Los Angeles Rams in a big Week 6 game. Here’s a preview. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)

The San Francisco 49ers can open up a three game lead over the defending conference champion Los Angeles Rams in the loss column with a win Sunday in Southern California. If Kyle Shanahan’s squad is able to come out on top it will start 5-0 on the season.

There’s several major backdrops to this rivalry game. Among them, the 49ers are now without their two starting tackles in that of Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey. The latter had his knee scoped and is out 4-6 weeks. This means rookie sixth-round pick Justin Skule and former undrafted free agent Daniel Brunskill will get the starts at tackle.

For the Rams, it’s all about rebounding after a two-game losing streak that has seen their defense give up an average of 42.5 points per outing.

Here, we preview this game by giving you the top stories to watch, the top matchups and a final prediction for the 49ers-Rams Week 6 matchup.

Time: 4:05 PM ET

Television: FOX 

Spread: Rams (-3) 

Over/Under: 49

Protecting Jimmy Garoppolo

Cleveland Browns v San Francisco 49ers
Jimmy Garoppolo will have to maintain his quick release in this game. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)

Garoppolo has been sacked the fewest times (four) of any quarterback in the NFL this season with a minimum of four starts. Not only has pass protection held up in front of him, he has the quickest average release in the NFL. This must continue now that Staley and McGlinchey are out and with Pro Bowl full back Kyle Juszczyk also sidelined for the next four-to-six weeks.

There is some decent news on this front. Even with Skule and Brunskill slated to start Sunday, pass rush from the defensive line has been far and few between for the Rams. Of their 11 sacks, eight have come from linebackers Clay Matthews and Dante Fowler Jr.

In order for the 49ers to have success and maintain their 31.8 point-per-game average, protection will need to be shaded to both tackle spots. That will likely include keeping George Kittle in the backfield at times and using 12 personnel with both Kittle and fellow tight end Levine Toilolo on the field together. Remember, Toilolo was the best pass-protecting tight end in the NFL with the Detroit Lions a season ago.

A Couple Weeks Until The Trade Deadline

Browns 49ers Football
Continued struggles from Deebo Samuel (pictured) and young 49ers receivers might force the team’s hands. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

The rash of injuries San Francisco has suffered through this season lends credence to the idea that the team might be forced to make a move or two before the Oct. 29 trade deadline.

Cornerbacks Jason Verrett and Ahkello Witherspoon are sidelined. Wide receivers Jalen Hurd and Trent Taylor are on injured reserve. As noted above, both the team’s starting offensive tackles are dealing with multi-week injuries. That’s six players at three key positions out, which is obviously limiting depth here.

Youngster Emmanuel Moseley showed out in Witherspoon’s stead last week, holding Odell Beckham Jr. to just one catch on three targets. Justin Skule has allowed two pressures in two starts since replacing Staley. If both were to perform well against the Rams, it might enable San Francisco to avoid exhausting draft capital in a trade for a veteran at tackle or cornerback. After all, Staley, McGlinchey and Witherspoon are all likely going to be back before December.

The wide receiver position is a different ball game here. Deebo Samuel and Dante Pettis struggled to the tune of two catches on six targets with 14 yards and three drops against the Browns last week. Marquise Goodwin has tallied just nine catches in four games. Short of one of these three stepping up big time over the next two weeks, general manager John Lynch might be forced to hit the trade market.

San Francisco’s Dominant Defense

49ers Football
Coordinator Robert Saleh is leading one of the game’s most-dominant defenses. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

All three tiers of the 49ers’ defense has come to play through four weeks. It’s been something to behold given how much this unit struggled as a whole last season. Despite some injuries, we’re talking about a defense that’s right up there with the defending champion New England Patriots as the best in the NFL.

Total Yards: #2

Scoring: #4

Rushing: #5

Passing: #2

Passing Touchdowns: #5

QB Rating: #2

Takeaways: #3

Despite an inferior level of competition through the first quarter of the season, these numbers are hard to ignore. We’re highly intrigued to see how this unit performs once it takes on better competition. But as of now, it starts with the defensive line.

Last week saw Baker Mayfield pressured on 22-of-29 dropbacks. That came after Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph faced pressure on 75% of his dropbacks and threw only two balls beyond the line of scrimmage in Week 3. Starting with Nick Bosa, DeForest Buckner and Dee Ford, this domination upfront can cure a lot of ills. Will it continue Sunday against the Rams?

Top Matchups

Brandin Cooks vs K’Waun Williams

Browns 49ers Football
K’Waun Williams has recorded an interception in each of the past two games. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

San Francisco’s outside corners are going to have their hands full with Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp in this one. Given Kupp’s ability to play the slot and the fact that he’s put up 41 receptions in five games, that’s magnified even further. However, the 49ers’ pass rush should limit success in that area. Instead, look for Jared Goff to target Cooks early and often on Sunday. That’s where Williams comes into play after he’s recorded an interception in each of the past two games. He’ll also go up against Kupp at times. Will the veteran be up for the task?

Matt Breida vs Rams Run Defense

Speed. Speed. Speed. We saw it first hand on San Francisco’s initial offensive play against the Browns. Breida got up to an absurd 22 mph on his 83-yard touchdown run. That’s the fastest of any running back over the past three seasons. The third-year back is also leading all NFL ball carriers with an average of 6.5 yards per touch and is on pace for north of 1,800 total yards. He now takes on a Rams defense that is yielding just 3.8 yards per rush. With the 49ers’ injury issues at tackle, it’s going to be key for Breida to continue with his early-season domination here.

Jared Goff vs 49ers Pass Defense

Rams Seahawks Football
Rams quarterback Jared Goff has struggled big time recently. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

Playoffs included, Goff has put up 14 touchdowns compared to 21 turnovers in his past 13 starts. Those are some absolutely dreadful numbers for the Super Bowl quarterback. He might have turned the corner with a solid performance in last week’s narrow road loss to the Seahawks, but we’re more than concerned. Set to take on a 49ers defense that has yielded the second-fewest passing yards and is allowing a 62.8 quarterback rating on the season, the onus is going to be on Goff here. That’s magnified if Pro Bowl running back Todd Gurley (quad) is unable to go.

Daniel Brunskill vs Michael Brockers

San Francisco will be facing pressure from Matthews and Fowler Jr. at linebacker, but we’re expecting max protection against the stand-up pass rushers. When in obvious passing downs, it would not be a surprise to see extra blockers shaded to Brunskill’s side as he makes his first NFL regular-season start. Either way, the young right tackle is going to have to go it himself at times. In one-on-one situations with Brockers, Brunskill better hold up in front of Garoppolo. After all, Brockers has recorded just two quarterback hits in five games this season. It would go a long way in helping the interior of San Francisco’s offensive line contain two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald.

Andrew Whitworth vs Nick Bosa

Dominant. Likely NFL Rookie Defensive Player of the Year. Reigning NFC Defensive Player of the Year. The accolades keep pouring in after a two-sack performance against the Browns that also saw Bosa force a fumble and recover another fumble while racking up three hurries and four hits. Bosa is on pace for 104 pressures, 36 quarterback hits and 12 sacks on the season. He’ll now be tasked with going up against one of the most-underrated left tackles in the game and a player in Whitworth who anchors an offensive line that’s yielded just eight sacks in five games. However, given Bosa’s dominant performances this season, we’re not going to ignore the possibility that he could once again take the game over here.

Prediction: 49ers 23, Rams 20

It is somewhat surprising to see the injury-plagued 49ers as only three-point road underdogs in this game. This tells us a story of a betting community that believes San Francisco is currently a better team than the defending NFC champs.

For the fifth consecutive time to open the season, we’re going to predict that San Francisco comes out on top here. Our first three predictions were almost spot on. No one could have seen the assault that took place at Santa Clara last Monday night.

We’re not going to go that far in this one. The Rams are in full-scale desperation mode. A loss here and they will fall three games behind San Francisco in the loss column in the division. We’re expecting a motivated team to take to the field in Los Angeles.

Even then, until the 49ers’ defense somehow shows that it is not as dominant as we’ve seen through the first quarter of the season, it’s hard to believe that a struggling Jared Goff will have success here. San Francisco’s pass rush should be a consistent force in the back field.

At the end of the day, that will be enough for the 49ers to overcome all of their injuries and open the season at 5-0 with a narrow victory over a game Rams team in Southern California.


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