Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports


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

Matt Andruscavage
Nov 28, 2020 at 2:05 PM


The bye week finally came and left. It has definitely been a difficult road in 2020, but some of the 49ers' best players will finally be back in uniform this Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams.

Running backs Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson are back and figure to be the primary backs the rest of the season. Wide receiver Deebo Samuel returns, though will likely not play alongside rookie Brandon Aiyuk due to COVID-19.

Cornerback Richard Sherman will play in his first game since Week 1 and there is already talk about the possibility of him transitioning to safety in the coming years. Sherman will play corner this Sunday but it would be interesting to see him move to safety at some point. He will join Emmanuel Moseley, Jason Verrett, and Jamar Taylor as the primary corners for the game.

The COVID-19 list has been unkind to the 49ers as well. Arik Armstead, Hroniss Gasu, and Javon Kinlaw were activated from that list, but D.J. Jones, Trent Williams, Brandon Aiyuk, Jordan Willis, Joe Walker, and Daniel Helm remain on it.

Tight end Jordan Reed and linebackers Dre Greenlaw and Azeez Al-Shaair all missed practice with non-COVID illnesses.

If Trent Williams misses the game, the 49ers will be pretty thin along the offensive line. Justin Skule would start at left tackle, Daniel Brunskill would slide over to center with Ben Garland still out, and Colton McKivitz will start at right guard after Tom Compton sustained a concussion this week.

Injuries have been the story of this season and it is still a pretty grim situation.


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

Where and When: Sunday, November 29 at 1:05 PM PT at SoFi Stadium

1) Protect Nick Mullens


Even if the 49ers are able to run the ball well, Mullens is going to have to play well in order to win this game. And he won't play well if he's on his back.

While I expect Kyle Shanahan to design plays that will get the ball out quickly, Mullens will have to make some big throws. If he gets time, he will have a chance at making some plays. If not, the Rams will only need 17 points to win.

2) Run the ball and hog the clock


Raheem Mostert is finally back and should provide a big boost to the offense. The offensive line has to provide solid running lanes and if that happens, expect Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr., and Deebo Samuel to get a lot of carries as the 49ers will attempt to gobble up the time of possession.

The ground game could also end up providing the majority of the points if it gets going, which would be preferable to needing Mullens to have a big day.

As in the first key, this game may hinge on the offensive line. Hopefully, Trent Williams can play.

3) Force Jared Goff into a mistake-filled day


The defensive line is going to be key as pressuring Jared Goff is the most important thing when the Rams have the ball. When pressured, Goff has the worst quarterback rating in the league (43.6) and five interceptions to three touchdowns. If the 49ers are going to steal this game, getting pressure on Goff is a huge part of the formula. Kerry Hyder, Arik Armstead, and Javon Kinlaw will lead a defensive line that has struggled to generate pressure, but has a chance against a Rams offensive line that is missing Andrew Whitworth.

San Francisco has plenty of defenders in the secondary who are capable of handling, as a whole, Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Josh Reynolds, and Tyler Higbee, who is questionable. That said, it all hinges on pressure. If Goff has time, he's much better with a 112.6 passer rating, good for tenth in the league, as well as 13 touchdowns to only three interceptions. The 49ers have a chance in this game if the defense can generate consistent pressure and force a couple of turnovers. Without the pressure, Goff will likely carve up the defense.

Score Prediction


It's a pretty simple plan, right? Pressure Jared Goff, run the ball, and protect Nick Mullens. It won't be that simple, but all three of those keys must occur if the 49ers are going to knock off the Rams. The last time they faced each other, it was Kyle Shanahan calling his best game of the season. Hopefully, we will see that again.

There is a good chance the 49ers will pressure Jared Goff. If the defense can keep the Rams' rushing attack to a dull roar, the offense will have what it needs to win the game. Expect Raheem Mostert and Deebo Samuel to provide enough plays to give the offense the boost it has sorely missed, Robbie Gould will see the field a few times, and it will all come down to the offensive line. If Trent Williams plays, I'm going with the upset. If not, the Rams will win.

Let's shoot for some optimism. Trent Williams plays and Nick Mullens commits zero turnovers, saving the 49ers' season for another week.

49ers 24, Rams 21
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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