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49ers-Rams: An early look at the Niners Week 6 Sunday night matchup

49ers open up as 3.5-point home underdogs against the Rams

Los Angeles Rams v Washington Football Team Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers were supposed to take advantage of this three-game homestand against inferior opponents. Instead, they’ve lost back-to-back games as touchdown favorites against the Eagles and the Dolphins. Their Week 6 opponent is a recognizable foe, the Los Angeles Rams.

Sean McVay and company are 4-1, coming off a dominant performance against Washington’s Football team where they won 30-10 and didn’t allow Washington to do much of anything outside of their second drive. The Rams held Washington to 2.1 yards per play. Kyle Allen was somehow worse than Dwayne Haskins, and while Alex Smith is a good story, he shouldn’t have been on the field. Their offensive line was getting their QBs killed. PFF had Washington down for eight sacks, including four by some Aaron Donald guy.

The Rams were rolling on offense against Washington, and that was a bit of a surprise as I thought Washington’s defensive line would offer some resistance. Goff’s box score numbers were impressive, but he was only successful on 50%of his throws, while the Rams only had a 35% rushing success rate. That makes it sound like they benefited from great field position and the Rams defense did a lot of the heavy lifting. Goff did have a QB rating of 84.7, and a 0.53 EPA/play.

On the season, the Rams offense is fifth in EPA per play, 10th in success rate, second in DVOA, with the top-rushing attack and the eighth-best passing attack. McVay has added a few new wrinkles to their offensive rushing attack that’s helped open up rushing lanes. Their play-action passing game is still dangerous, but the 49ers have linebackers that are the best in the business at “ROBOT’ing,” and when you can take away the Rams “over” routes, they tend to struggle. Something to keep an eye on is whether Dre Greenlaw gets caught with his eyes in the backfield.

The Rams have been equally as impressive on defense. They’re fourth in EPA per play and eighth in success rate. Los Angeles gets pressure 22% of the time, which is four percent worse than the Niners. The difference is when the Rams get pressure, they turn those plays into sacks. They lead the league with 20 sacks, while San Francisco has ten on the season. Kyle Shanahan won’t have to worry about being blitzed a lot this week. The Rams only blitz 20% of the time, which is the 10th-lowest rate in the league. The issue is the Rams are getting pressure with only four, giving them seven defenders in coverage. Does that sound familiar? It should. That’s how the 49ers overwhelmed offenses a year ago.

Donald leads the league in sacks and is tied for sixth in the NFL in QB hits. We know the 49ers offensive line has had their fair share of miscommunication during the first five games. Shanahan might blow a gasket if Donald gets a free run at whoever is under center on Sunday night. Donald makes that defense go. Jalen Ramsey is a superstar, and Los Angeles has a competent secondary, but there will be opportunities for the 49ers to make plays.

Goff has played much better this season on the other side of the ball, and that’s thanks to his offensive line. The Rams don’t have a true vertical threat, and the Niners defense matches up well against them. If the defensive line continues to play like it has all season, they should be able to make Goff uncomfortable and force him into making that boneheaded throw that Goff is accustom to throwing. He’ll give the 49ers opportunities to get a turnover.

The spread for this game opened up with the Rams as three-point favorites, and that line is up to 3.5, and it’s only Tuesday. I wonder how that line will move as the week goes along. The total on the game has moved from 49 to 50.5. How do you feel about this game now compared to the start of the season?