Can the 49ers offense bounce back? 5 keys to victory over the Los Angeles Rams

The San Francisco 49ers (1-2) will look to bounce back from an embarrassing 11-10 loss to Denver when they take on the Los Angeles Rams (2-1) on Monday night at Levi’s Stadium.

It may only be week four, but this is a big game for the 49ers. With a victory they will move into first place in the NFC West. However, a loss will put them two and a half games back.

Here are my five questions to watch out for on Monday night.

1.) Will Jimmy Garoppolo bounce back?

Jimmy Garoppolo’s performance against Denver was one of the worst in his career. On Monday night he will look to bounce back against a team he’s had a great deal of success against.

Garoppolo has started six regular season games against the Rams. He has yet to lose.

In addition to his 6-0 record, the 49ers quarterback has completed 121 of 177 attempts for 1,549 yards with nine touchdown and seven interceptions.

The Rams pass defense has been in the middle of the pack to start the season. Over the first three weeks they have allowed a net average of 6.2 yards per pass attempt which ranks 16th.

2.) Can the 49ers get their run game back on track?

The 49ers have registered 30-or-more carries in 5 of their last 6 regular season games against the Rams, including 44 rushes in the two team’s last matchup at Levi’s Stadium

Reaching 30 carries on Monday night will be difficult. The Ram’s defense has been stout against the run. They have allowed an average of 3.8 yards per rush attempt. The low yards per attempt helps explain why opponents have attempted only 24.3 rushes per game against Los Angeles this season.

For the 49ers to reach 30-or-more carries on Monday night they will need to find a way to keep drives alive. San Francisco currently ranks 24th in plays per possession with an average of only 5.54.

3.) Can San Francisco’s offense hold on to the ball?

Since the start of last season, the 49ers are 1-7 when they turn the ball over more than their opponents. When the turnover margin is tied or favors San Francisco they are 12-3.

San Francisco has lost the turnover battle in two of its first three games to start 2022.

While ball security is always important, it takes on added significance against the Rams.

In their three matchups with Los Angles last season, San Francisco won the turnover battle once and tied in the other two.

Looking back on those games it is easy to see the influence of turnovers on the outcome.

In the 49ers 31-10 blowout of the Rams at Levi’s Stadium they forced a pair of Matthew Stafford interceptions and did not commit a single turnover of their own.

During the 2021 regular season finale and NFC Championship game the teams tied in turnover margin. They split those two games, each winning by a three-point margin.

Jimmy Garoppolo has made 46 starts for the 49ers. The veteran quarterback has turned the ball over 48 times, 39 interceptions and nine lost fumbles, in those starts. Against Los Angeles last season, Garoppolo threw three interceptions.

Garoppolo isn’t the only 49er who has been unable to hold on to the football. San Francisco’s offense has recorded at least one fumble in each game this season.

4.) Can the 49ers defense force Matthew Stafford into mistakes?

The addition of Matthew Stafford was a major factor in helping Los Angeles win the Super Bowl last season.

Despite his high level of play, Stafford will give opposing defenses opportunities to take the ball away. Stafford threw an interception on 2.8 percent of his pass attempts in 2021. Through the first three weeks of this season Stafford’s interception percentage stands at 4.9.

Stafford threw a pair of interceptions in both regular season games against the 49ers last year and added another in the NFC Championship game.

The 49ers need to take advantage of the opportunities Matthew Stafford will present them and hold on to the ball to have any chance of winning.

5.) Will the 49ers defense say hot?

The 49ers defense has been terrific to start this season. Through three weeks they rank first in total yards allowed per possession, pass yards allowed, and passing touchdowns allowed. In addition, they are second in points per possession, plays per possession and third in yards per rush attempt.

This week San Francisco will face its toughest test yet.

Despite his penchant for giving opposing defenses opportunities for interceptions, Matthew Stafford has been on point. Stafford has completed over 70 percent of his passes in each game.

Cooper Kupp continues to be Stafford’s top target.

In three games against San Francisco last year Kupp caught 29 of 34 targets for 382 yards and three touchdowns.

With the focus on Kupp, don’t forget about tight end Tyler Higbee. He has accounted for more yards after the catch than Kupp. Of his 16 receptions, nine have gone for a first down. In addition, three of Stafford’s five interceptions have come when targeting the tight end.

Prediction:

49ers 23 Rams 20

This prediction is based on the 49ers holding on to the football.

Since the start of last season, the 49ers are 1-7 when they turn the ball over more than their opponents. When the turnover margin is tied or favors San Francisco they are 12-3.

In their three matchups with Los Angles last season, San Francisco won the turnover battle once and tied in the other two.

This article has 19 Comments

  1. This is a very tough one to gauge. However, I predicted this game would be a 49ers loss before the season, and I am maintaining that stance. Garoppolo has not had enough time with the first string offense, the run game has been underwhelming (especially since teams have figured out how to bottle up Deebo the Wide Back), and the OL is missing its best player for at least a month. I think the combination of all three factors will be too much to surmount.

    My prediction:
    49ers 20
    Rams 28

    1. Great point about Garoppolo and I agree. Everyone is up in arms about the way he played. First off we know that’s how he plays, but he also had shoulder surgery and didn’t practice. That is a valid reason why he played EXTRA crappy. His arm isn’t conditioned like a normal season and mentally is processing is weaker from lack of live reps.

      I think we pull this week. Unlike most people this week, I know Shanahan is an elite offensive game planner. He will have a wrinkle to get the run game going. The Jimmy Garoppolo experience will be in full effect and he will make enough plays to help support a Win. Additionally our defensive line will dominate a lesser Rams offensive line.

      23-17

  2. My prediction is that the Niners will absolutely, 100% win – if they have 0 turnovers. Of all the games played on Sunday, only 1 team won while loosing the turnover battle. That was GB’s 3 point win over NE.

  3. 3.8 yards per carry is something I’d take all day. Yards in the NFL are hard to come. And that’s a first down every third carry. Shanahan has to commit to the run and the play action. Let’s go back to what we do best – running the football. Controlling the clock. And hitting teams with the play action when they creep up.

  4. Prediction:

    49ers 13 Rams 10

    This prediction is based on the 49ers scoring more points than the Rams.

    Since the start of the franchise’s inaugural season, the 49ers are 600-0 when scoring more points than their opposition.

  5. The way I see it, there are 2 different ways this game can go.

    1. Rams interior D-Line destroys Banks, Brendel, Burford for the entire game. Jimmy G has less than 2 seconds to throw on every pass so Ramsey and the Rams secondary are able to sit on every route resulting in at least one pick 6 which ultimately is the difference in the game. Rams win by 3 points in a low scoring slug fest.

    2. Jeff Wilson starts and plays fairly well but Jordan Mason emerges as the next, more durable, version of Eli Mitchell. The 49ers defense locks down the Rams and win the turnover battle. 49ers win 15 -10.

  6. Rams might be the most 1 dimensional team in the league. Their RBs are averaging 3.4 ypc and are fumble factories. Stafford to Kupp is the bulk of their offense. In the NFCCG Kupp was a handful for us but so was Beckham – who is gone. Limit Kupp and we should win.

    Niners 20 Rams 10

    1. Great, next 2 weeks are @ Panthers and @ Falcons after a short week. Unfavorable scheduling from the NFL. Are we staying at Greenbriar in between games ?

    2. Agreed, but I am slightly worried about the Rams run game. When McVay looked at film last week he sure saw that drive the Broncos got Jevontae Williams going. They also had some success in the 2nd half of the NFFCCG.

      1. Geep, good point. Do you remember that crazy Saturday night Rams game a few years ago. Highbee had a great game against us. If I recall correctly Jimmy converted not 1 but 2 3rd and 16s on the final drive to win the game. I think the difference now is Greenlaw is healthy our corners are better and we have Hufanga

        1. Rollo
          “Do you remember that crazy Saturday night Rams game a few years ago?” YES! Thats why we can’t
          forget about him!Yea, I want both Greenlaw and Hufanga to have a big game…..I also want BOSA to get
          some sacks

  7. The 9ers O line is no longer ‘Trent Williams, and Four Dudes’…this, in and of itself, is the main concern Niner fans should have….they didn’t look especially good, vs Chicago, and against Denver, they were less than stellar…so now they face a team that has a brutal force on the interior of the line, that’ll face a rookie, a second year player and a guy with 6-8 starts under his belt in 3 years…McGlinchey, on the right side, is serviceable, as is the replacement for Williams, should it be Brunskill…the rush up the middle will be a big problem, and Kyle can slow it down with play action..that will only be beneficial if it works..if the Rams know it’s coming, and don’t bite on the fakes, offensively, itlll be a long evening for SF…It pains me to put this in print..LA 27 SF 13

  8. This is gonna be a low-scoring ugly game! If Niners Def can hold the Rams to no more than 13 points then we have a good chance to win the game.

  9. Three things the 9ers must do if they’re going to beat the Rams:
    1) First downs: The 9ers were 1-for-10 on 3rd downs in Denver. Their 1st conversion came late in the 4th qtr. It’s hard to win without extending drives on 3rd downs.
    2) Passing: JG was not good on throws 10+ yards downfield in Denver. On throws 10-19 yards down the field, he was 2-of-8 for 38 yards and an int. If this continues against the Rams, we could see KS look at Purdy, to see what he can do.
    3) The O-Line: The success for #1 and #2 will depend on the O-Line winning at the LOS. They must give JG a clean pocket and time to throw. Also, give the RB’s a lane to run in and pick up 1st downs.
    Two keys to a win:
    * The 9er defense: Must control Kupp and Higbee. Bosa and Ebukam must sack and keep pressure on Stafford.
    * The 9er offense: TW’s replacement, LT McKivitz, has to protect JG’s blind side and the IOL must keep Aaron Donald from sacking JG. Also, the 9er IOL must control Rams LB Bobby Wagner to get 1st downs.
    * The 9ers 13…….The Rams 16

  10. If Jimmy G looks inept and out of shape, why wait? Get purdy up quickly. He wants to play and is in shape. Budding franchise QB?

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