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49ers open up as 6.5 point favorites over the Rams

Going over what has changed and what’s different since the last time the two teams met

San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

A lot has changed since the last time the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams met a little over two months ago. There is just enough that is the same between the two teams as well, and that’s why Vegas has the Niners as 6.5 point favorites for Saturday’s NFC West showdown. The total on the game is 45.5, so Vegas is expecting a higher scoring game than the last time these two teams met.

What’s changed

In the first meeting, Tevin Coleman had 18 carries, Matt Breida had 13, and Raheem Mostert at four. That order will likely be flipped on Saturday. Dante Pettis was the second-leading receiver that day. Pettis had three catches for 45 yards. There’s a strong chance Pettis doesn’t see the field Saturday. We also saw Daniel Brunskill and Justin Skule get the start. If you recall, Aaron Donald sacked Jimmy Garoppolo after beating Skule very early in the game. At that point, it seemed like the 49ers were in for a long afternoon. Jimmy G was only sacked one more time in the afternoon.

The defense was riding high, fresh off holding the Browns to three points; they continued their dominance against the Rams. Kwon Alexander led the team in tackles, and Dee Ford led the team in sacks. Jimmie Ward played his first game of the season and was all over the place, breaking up two passes. The defensive line was still at full strength, Ronald Blair, Solomon Thomas, and Arik Armstead all had sacks as well. Oh, to be healthy again.

The Rams didn’t have Jalen Ramsey or Todd Gurley that game, though Gurley looks like a shell of himself.

What’s the same

Garoppolo didn’t throw for over 250 yards, but there was plenty of chunk plays that game, and that’s been the story for San Francisco this season. The 49ers have 88 explosive plays on offense this season, which is seven more than any other team in the NFL.

Kittle had 103 yards in the game. He’s been on a tear going on a year now, and that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon.

The Rams offensive line is still subpar, and Jared Goff is still putting the ball in harm’s way. He’s thrown three interceptions in the past two games, and it could have easily been more. The difference in offensive lines has been the difference this season. Per Football Outsiders charting, San Francisco has the lowest pressure rate on offense at 24.4%. The Rams are 19th at 29.6. Goff was sacked four times the last time these teams met and hurried on 18 of his dropbacks. Here’s to hoping the defensive line can have similar success on Saturday.

Aaron Donald is still good at football.