San Francisco enters this game off of two embarrassing losses, where they were beaten handily by teams they were favoured to beat by over a TD, pre-kickoff. A 25-20 home loss to the Eagles was followed by a humiliating 43-17 loss to Miami last week, where they allowed journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick to throw for 350-yards and 3 TDs. The 49ers have endured a string of terrible injuries this year but poor play at some key positions has hampered them too. QB Jimmy Garoppolo (ankle) threw two INTs and completed just 7-passes on 17-attempts in the first-half against Miami, before getting a mercy pull by his coach in the second-half. Garoppolo was sailing his throws last week and his performance should be viewed as at least somewhat a result of his injured ankle not yet being 100%. So far he’s practiced in full for Week 6 and looks on track to start this week’s game vs. L.A.
The 49ers look like they will still be without Richard Sherman for Week 6 too, but are getting another starting CB back this week in Emmanuel Mosely. The 49ers will need all the help they can get against a Rams team who has remained near 100% health so far in 2020 and has averaged over 27.2 points per game. Los Angeles endured its only loss of the year on the road two weeks ago to the Bills and have thus far enjoyed beating up on the weak NFC East, grabbing wins against the Eagles, Washington and the Giants in recent weeks.
In many ways this week’s game will be a good barometer for the Rams to see where they fit in the NFC power rankings. A late comeback against Buffalo in Week 3 made that game much closer than it actually was so a win here against San Francisco would bring at least some legitimacy to their 2020 campaign. The Rams lost both meetings with the 49ers last year, but played them very tight in Week 16, losing a 34-31 game on a 60-yard field goal by Robbie Gould to end the game. They’re obviously not getting the 49ers at their best here either, and that sees them enter this game as -3.5 favorites, as of writing.
The Rams have relied on their rushing game so far and a Defensive Line which has been dominant and co-leads the league in sacks with 20.
Given the general lack of mobility and injury concerns surrounding Garoppolo, this could be another huge spot for the Rams defense who also has all-pro Jalen Ramsey patrolling the outfield. The 49ers can counter with a mix of Raheem Mostert–who gained 119 total yards last week in return from injury–and George Kittle, who has murdered the Rams in each of their last four meetings.
As you can imagine, the 49ers have a losing 2-3 record Against the Spread so far on the year after getting beaten, straight up, as massive favorites two weeks in a row. Despite a couple of poor weeks though, it’s worth noting that the 49ers did post a winning 5-4-1 home ATS spread record last year, and went 3-2 as home underdogs ATS in 2018 under Kyle Shannahan. The Rams come in with a 3-2 ATS record in 2020 and have a 12-8 ATS record since 2017 (when Sean McVay took over) as away underdogs. The Rams are also 8-3-1 ATS in division games the last two years which puts a couple trends in their favour here.
Over bettors last week went 7-7 around the league, so we could be seeing defenses finally catching up a bit after an insanely high-scoring start to the year. The Rams are actually one of only 11-teams in the league that have a losing record to the over side in totals this year, as three of their five games have gone under. On the flip side, San Francisco has hit the over in three of their five games so far in 2020. The 49ers defense has now allowed 68-points against in their last two games (both at home) so the real question for over bettors here may be whether or not to trust Jimmy Garoppolo and company to put up points against a tough Rams defense.
- OLB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (elbow) out
- FS Jordan Fuller (shoulder) IR
- ILB Micah Kiser (groin) probable
- LB Kwon Alexander (ankle) questionable
- QB Jimmy Garoppolo (ankle) probable
- CB Dontae Johnson (groin) questionable
Rams offense vs 49ers defense
The Rams are one of the more prolific rush offenses in the league. They sit fourth in the league in rush attempts per game at 33.8 and have averaged the 7th-most rush yards per game. Their success can be attributed to a couple of different factors, but mainly to an offensive line that has shown positive regression, after a disappointing 2020, and the emergence of Darrell Henderson at RB. Henderson has added an element of explosiveness for L.A., averaging 13.1 yards per catch thus far and has also added in multiple long runs since rejoining the team after an early season injury. He’ll be joined by rookie RB Cam Akers, who also returned for L.A. last week and had a couple good looking runs. The Rams will likely deploy some kind of committee throughout this game but would do well here to keep giving Henderson the bulk of the opportunities.
The Rams O-Line ranks 7th in run blocking and have also allowed the 7th fewest sacks against. Their dominance has allowed QB Jared Goff to start the season well and he currently carries a 108-passer rating on the year, which would be the highest seasonal mark of his career, if the season ended today. Goff’s undoubtedly been helped by a balanced offensive approach as he hasn’t been asked to drop back more than 32-times in a game yet this year. I detailed San Fran’s injuries above and, while they are getting healthier in the secondary, they’re clearly missing Nick Bosa in the pass rush department as they enter this game ranked just 18th in adjusted sack-rate.
If San Francisco can’t generate a rush, look for slot receiver Cooper Kupp to potentially ball-out here. 49ers slot corner Jamal Taylor comes in with the fourth-worst grading among all slot corners in the league, per Pro Football Focus. San Francisco needs to get pressure here plain and simple. If they can prevent the Rams RBs from making big plays and force the game into Jared Goff’s hands, they’ll have a chance of at least limiting this well-run Rams offense.
49ers offense vs Rams defense
The 49ers will be at or near full go on offense this week for the first time all season. San Francisco has laboured at times in 2020 but should be able to find some rhythm this week after getting in a full week of practice with all their top skill players together. The main health watch will be on QB Jimmy Garoppolo who is scheduled to play but did look terrible last week while trying to play through an ankle injury. The good news for him is that RB Raheem Mostert looked terrific in his return to the field last week and could be in a position here to make things easy on his QB. Mostert is averaging 7.0 YPC and has been explosive in the passing game averaging 15.4 y/r.
The Rams linebackers are the weak spot in their defense and have allowed the 9th-worst YPC against this year at 4.7 YPC, the eighth most receptions and 7th most yards receiving to RBs. They’ve been better at limiting opposing TEs, but George Kittle is an entirely different beast and racked up 15 rec. and over 180 yards receiving vs. L.A. in two games last year. The matchup here will really come down to the L.A. pass rush vs. the San Francisco O-Line. The 49ers have not been good at protecting their QBs in 2020, allowing the third most sacks against coming into Week 6. As mentioned above, Aaron Donald and crew lead the league in sacks but could be mitigated somewhat here by the San Francisco rush game and reliance on quick outlet throws to WRs and TEs.
The Rams recorded six sacks against the 49ers in their meeting last December and, given the state of Garoppolo’s health, a similar outcome here could spell disaster for the 49ers. Look for San Fran to do everything they can to get the ball out of their QBs hands early in this game and for RB Raheem Mostert to be relied on heavily.
Game and prop bets
Everything here points to the Rams being the better team so far in 2020, but the bigger picture is also something to consider. L.A. had all kinds of trouble bottling up the 49ers most explosive players when these two teams met last year and L.A.’s main point of weakness on defense comes at a place where San Francisco is most likely to attack.
Even if the 49ers defense can’t take a step up and slow down the Rams rushing game there’s a very real possibility that Raheem Mostert and the 49ers offense turns the tables and lights up a suspect Rams Linebacker crew. San Francisco hasn’t been good ATS at all this year but seeing them get blown out three games in a row at home seems pretty unrealistic, especially with more players returning to full health. I like buying low on the 49ers here, especially with the line over 3, as it feels like a field goal could easily decide this game between division rivals.
San Francisco’s offense is built to beat a defense like L.A.’s, as they’ve shown numerous times in the past. The 49ers have put up 34-or more points against the Rams in two of the last three meetings. With SF still banged up on defense themselves, I like the over here too.
Player prop bets
I mentioned Mostert above as being a key for San Francisco this week, and if I like them to cover then I really have to like Mostert to put up some serious production here. The Rams are beatable on the ground and Mostert’s production as a receiver here could be boosted by the 49ers reluctance to try many downfield throws given the state of their QBs health. Even if his opportunities only increase a little, this prop looks too low given how explosive he’s been on limited touches.
San Francisco RBs have scored a TD in 11-straight regular season games dating back to last year. With Jerick McKinnon relegated to a more passing back/hurry-up role last week, we should feel fairly comfortable that Mostert will get the bulk of the carries in the red zone, especially early on in the game when everyone is fresh. Given the fact that they’re coming off two poor losses in a row, I like the 49ers to come out fast here and potentially give Mostert a chance at hitting this first score prop early.