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Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports


49ers vs. Rams - Keys to Victory and Score Prediction

Matt Andruscavage
Oct 17, 2020 at 11:14 AM


At 2-3, this is not where most fans and analysts thought the San Francisco 49ers would be. It has been a season filled with injuries and a lot of poor execution. With the Rams (4-1) coming to town, the 49ers are facing a must-win situation in order to salvage this season.

A loss would give San Francisco an abysmal 2-4 record, three conference losses, two division losses, and would likely spell the end of the 2020 season, given the amount of difficult opponents on the horizon.

A win would put the 49ers back in the race and right the ship for at least a week as more players make their ways back from injury.

The injury news continues to be a mix of good and bad. Kwon Alexander was believed to be out 4-6 weeks with a high ankle sprain and while he will not play Sunday, he could be back next week. Emmanuel Moseley appears to be ready to play after missing two games with a concussion. He is officially listed as questionable, but is likely to play.

Jimmy Garoppolo had a very good week of practice, was not on yesterday's injury report, and should be much healthier than last week.

On the downside was the news that Weston Richburg, Ronald Blair, and Julian Taylor will miss at least 3 more games before returning, as opposed to Week 7. Richard Sherman is also not ready but could have a shot at returning next week.

If the 49ers are able to stay in the playoff hunt until reinforcements return, this season is far from over. It starts Sunday against the Rams.


Here are five keys to winning this game for the 49ers:

Where and When: Sunday October 18th at 5:20 PM PT at Levi's Stadium

1) Run the ball


Raheem Mostert has been brilliant when he's played and now that he's healthy, he gives the offense its best chance to succeed.


The Rams are ranked 28th in DVOA against the run and is clearly where their defense is most vulnerable.

Mostert, Jerick McKinnon, as well as Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk should be fed often to take as much pressure off of Garoppolo as possible, but also to open up that passing attack.

If the ground game can get going and chew up the rushing defense of the Rams, San Francisco has a real shot in this game.


2) Be successful on first down


First down is an area in which the 49ers have struggled, especially when passing the ball. Far too often, we have seen sacks, penalties, and incompletions on this all important down. Last season, San Francisco was sixth in DVOA when passing on first down. In 2020? 28th. It's not hard to see the differences in the results in 2020 as these types of plays have been drive killers.

Kyle Shanahan's offense is at its best when it is successful on first down and manageable third downs. 2020 has seen the opposite with consistent third and long situations. If the 49ers can win on first down, the offense should be set up for third and short or will have opportunities to avoid third down altogether.

This is the kind of game in which three and outs cannot be acceptable.

3) Pressure Jared Goff


While the Los Angeles Rams do not possess a dominant ground attack, it has been effective, despite the departure of Todd Gurley. Where the Rams have been most effective is in their passing game. If Jared Goff faces little to no pressure, the 49ers secondary will have problems with Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Tyler Higbee, and Gerald Everett.

Jared Goff has real problems when he faces pressure as we all saw last season. It will be up to Robert Saleh to dial up pressure in key spots if San Francisco is to have a real chance at winning this game.

If we thought what Ryan Fitzpatrick was able to do was crushing, Goff and the Los Angeles passing attack will be much more lethal.

4) It's time for splash plays


San Francisco has been unable to come up with "splash plays" that can tilt the outcome of the game in its favor. Raheem Mostert has largely been the only player able to come up with these type of plays when he's ripped off long runs in opportune moments. If the defense can force an early turnover or perhaps the special teams can block a punt or field goal, the 49ers will have a shot at knocking the Rams off their game a bit.

The offense also needs a few big plays to counter what the Rams have been able to do. Everyone knows Aaron Donald and the pass rush will be coming, but the Rams will have to make adjustments if the 49ers are able to come up some big plays.

The bottom line? The 49ers must not have a lackluster performance. Big plays will be needed by all three units to pull out this game and the earlier, the better.

5) Jimmy Garoppolo must play well


This will not be a game in which the offense can simply rely on the ground attack. Garoppolo must bounce back and have a good game. The ball is going to have to come out quickly, but more importantly, the accuracy has to be there. Ball placement has been an issue. There have been far too many passes that are behind the receiver and that has to change Sunday.

Whether it's getting the ball out quickly for a positive play, being able to avoid the pass rush, or simply making a downfield throw, this is the week Jimmy Garoppolo has to begin building a successful season. He was clearly not himself last week or Week 1. He did have a good Week 2 against the Jets before the injury, but right now, the 2-3 record is staring us in the face and the quarterback receives the blame, right or wrong.

Garoppolo must be not only effective, but have his best day of the season in order to outduel Jared Goff and the Rams.

Prediction


This is going to be a difficult game, but it is a game the 49ers can and must win. With their backs to the wall, the San Francisco 49ers will come out and save their season. It may not be pretty for all four quarters and the Rams will have their chances, but Jimmy Garoppolo will have a very good day and the defense will step up and seal the victory.

49ers 27, Rams 24
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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