The San Francisco 49ers (3-5) will look to snap an eight-game home losing streak and keep their playoff hopes alive when they take on the Los Angeles Rams (7-2) on Monday night at Levi’s Stadium. The last time the 49ers won a home game was October 18, 2020, when they defeated the Rams 24-16.
Here are my five questions to watch out for on Monday night.
1. Will Jimmy Garoppolo reach 300 yards passing for the third week in a row?
Garoppolo has thrown for 300 or more yards in back-to-back games twice in his career, but he has never reached that total in three straight and never has reached that total against the Rams.
Despite the lack of a 300-yard game, Garoppolo has been successful against Los Angeles with a career record of 4-0.
Garoppolo’s last victory over the Rams was also the last victory for the 49ers at Levi’s Stadium. In that game Garoppolo completed 23 of 33 attempts for 268 yards and three touchdowns.
The key for Garoppolo this week is to not turn the ball over. In his four starts against Los Angeles, he has committed six turnovers, five interceptions and one lost fumble.
2. Can the 49ers offensive line neutralize the Los Angeles pass rush?
As if trying to keep Aaron Donald, 6 sacks, and Leonard Floyd, 7.5 sacks, off your quarterback wasn’t already a tough challenge, Monday night will mark the debut of Von Miller for the Rams.
Los Angeles added the three time All-Pro when they sent their second and third round selections in the 2022 draft to Denver at the beginning of November. Miller currently has 4.5 sacks on the season, which would be third most for the Rams.
The 49ers will need to try and keep the trio off their quarterback without right tackle Mike McGlinchey who was lost for the season with a torn quad muscle suffered last week against Arizona.
With McGlinchey out, San Francisco will turn to either Tom Compton or Jaylon Moore. Compton made three starts for the 49ers last season and was replaced in each by Colton McKivitz. Moore has already made one start in his rookie season when he stepped in for Trent Williams against Indianapolis. Williams has primarily played on the left side this season, but he has been getting practice on the right side to be ready if called upon.
3. Will the 49ers secondary be able to contain Matthew Stafford?
Facing rookie Justin Fields and backup Colt McCoy the last two weeks, the 49ers secondary has forced only 12 incompletions. This week the secondary gets to face the quarterback with the best rating in the NFL at 111.0, Matthew Stafford.
Los Angeles acquired Stafford through a trade with the Detroit Lions to upgrade the position, and so far, this season it has paid off. In addition to having the top rating, Stafford is third in the NFL in passing yards per game, 307.9 and second in touchdown passes, 23.
The 49ers hope to have safety Jimmie Ward back this week after he missed the Arizona game. The veteran could help due to his leadership on the back end of the defense and his sure tackling. Both of which were missed last week.
Having Ward return could provide a boost, but San Francisco will need to have a big game out of their pass rush as well. The Los Angeles offensive line has been terrific in pass protection this season, allowing the fourth lowest sack percentage in the NFL.
Except for Nick Bosa, San Francisco has struggled with getting to the quarterback this season. Bosa has recorded 17 quarterback hits through the first eight weeks while no other 49ers player has more than four.
4. Can Kyle Shanahan get back to his offensive identity?
One of the first things that comes to mind when discussing the 49ers offense under Kyle Shanahan is running the football. During San Francisco’s run to the Super Bowl in 2019, they ran the ball nearly as often as they threw it, 49% run to 51% pass.
This season that number is heavily skewed towards the pass. Through the first eight games, the 49ers offense has ran the ball on only 43% of their offensive snaps.
With a defense that is struggling to get off the field, a successful run game could become San Francisco’s best defense. I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that the run game has been featured during all three wins this season.
5. Will the 49ers play a clean game?
The 49ers are two games under .500 in large part because the offense continually shoots itself in the foot with penalties, dropped passes and turnovers. The Ram’s defense has forced the eighth most turnovers this season, 14.
The pass defense for Los Angeles has been particularly adept at taking the ball away, forcing 12 interceptions while allowing only 10 touchdowns.
Meanwhile, San Francisco has turned the ball over in all but two games this season. If they have any chance to pull off the upset on Monday night, they need to make sure this is the third time.
Rams 31, 49ers 21