The San Francisco 49ers travel to Los Angeles for a week two date with the Los Angeles Rams. San Francisco has won the last eight regular season contests between the two teams. Sunday’s matchup is a big one with the winner taking a one game lead over the rest of the NFC West.
Longtime rivals, this will serve as a de facto home opener for the 49ers. According to Vivid Seats, nearly 65 percent of tickets purchased have been by Sand Francisco fans.
Here are my five burning questions for week 2.
1 Will Brock Purdy keep the streaks alive?
Brock Purdy brings several streaks into his first career start against the Rams. Purdy is the first quarterback in NFL history to throw two or more touchdowns in their first six regular season starts. He is also the first quarterback in league history to post a passer rating of at least 95 over that span.
In addition to the personal accomplishments, Purdy has a perfect 6-0 record as a starter in the regular season.
On Sunday he will face a Rams defense that allowed just 112 yards passing in its season opening win over the Seattle Seahawks.
2 Will Spencer Burford and the 49ers offensive line contain Aaron Donald?
The second-year right guard struggled against Pittsburgh in the season opener. He allowed four pressures on Brock Purdy, a career high. Now he will face seven-time All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
San Francisco has held Donald without a sack over the course of the last four regular season matchups. The job of keeping that streak alive now falls on the shoulders of Spencer Burford after the 49ers lost Daniel Brunskill in free agency.
Burford started both games against Losa Angeles last season and played 58 percent of the snaps while splitting resp with Brunskill. Of those snaps, 32 were passes and Burford managed to hold Donald to just one quarterback hit and one pressure.
3 Will San Francisco’s pass rush get to Matthew Stafford?
San Francisco’s pass rush sets the tone for the defense. In week one they recorded five sacks while hitting Kenny Pickett another four times. They also hurried the Steelers quarterback on 20 of 54 drop backs.
This week the 49ers will face a Rams offense which allowed quarterback Matthew Stafford to be hit just twice on 41 drop backs against the Seattle Seahawks.
Last season, San Francisco got to Stafford for 11 sacks and another eight hits in their two wins over the Rams. Getting pressure on Stafford will lead to opportunities for the 49ers secondary to come away with interceptions.
The veteran quarterback has a history of putting the ball in harm’s way when he feels defenders around him. San Francisco’s defense has recorded a pick-six in the first meeting with Los Angeles each of the last two seasons.
4 Does the 49ers defense have the slot figured out?
The only question on the 49ers defense has been in the slot. They added Isaiah Oliver during free agency. However, the veteran struggled during training camp. As a result, San Francisco went into week one with Deommodore Lenoir sliding inside to play the slot with Ambry Thomas coming in to pay the boundary. Thomas made several mistakes in the first half against Pittsburgh and was benched in favor of Oliver after the half.
San Francisco now will face a Rams team which attacks the slot like no other in the NFL. Even without star receiver Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles received 238 yards receiving from rookie Puka Nacua and Tutu Atwell against Seattle.
Nacua’s physical style drew comparisons to Jauan Jennings from Kyle Shanahan earlier this week. Atwell on the other hand is a smaller receiver with speed to take the top off the defense.
5 Will the 49ers shut down the Rams run game?
San Francisco’s defense has consistently been able to shut down the Rams ability to run the ball. In the last four matchups between the two teams Los Angeles has averaged just 3.01 yard per rush attempt and been held to a high of 64 yards.
Taking away the run Sunday will allow the 49ers pass rush to focus on getting after Matthew Stafford. And when San Francisco makes an opponent one dimensional they win.
49ers 34 Rams 17