In their first and only matchup of the 2022 NFL season, the LA Rams lost once more to the San Francisco 49ers. But the game was not nearly as lopsided as the final score of 22-9. You see, in that game, the Rams’ defense held the 49ers’ offense to just two big plays. One was a 32-yard touchdown run out of nowhere by 49ers running back Jeff Wilson Jr. The other was a 57-yard touchdown pass to WR Deebo Samuel.
It never seems to fail. If Deebo Samuel catches the ball anywhere near DB Taylor Rapp, it often is a game-changer for huge yardage. What about the other touchdown? That was a pick-six thrown by LA Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford to 49ers DB Talanoa Hufanga for a 52-yard interception return.
But if you pull out that 32-yard burst, the LA Rams’ rush defense held the 49ers to 52 yards on 21 carries, which averages out to just 2.48 yards per run. Despite the victory, you could tell that the way that the 49ers won the game did not sit well with the Niners’ head coach Kyle Shanahan. He wanted to run more, but the Rams’ defense shunted those plans on all but one running play.
McCaffrey and the 49ers’ offense
Against the Kansas City Chiefs, a game in which the 49ers lost by a significant margin, the 49ers rushed the ball just 21 times. Curiously, newly acquired RB Christian McCaffrey led the team in the number of rushes with eight.
Since the Rams were also down to the wire in the bidding for McCaffrey, you can bet that Shanahan plans to rub salt into the wound of the LA Rams by handing him the ball 20+ times. Not only is McCaffrey that type of running back who gets stronger as the game draws on, but 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo did not get much work in training camp, and even when he did he is more of a game manager quarterback.
Of course, anything is possible when the LA Rams and the San Francisco 49ers face off. And if the Rams stop the 49ers run, they can always revert to Plan B. But the situation is set up perfectly for the 49ers, a team that loves to run with the football, to simply pound it on the Rams’ defense all day.
Typically, it’s the Rams offense that telegraphs the game plan well before the opening kickoff. Hopefully, the Rams’ defense will be ready to stop the run, the entire game.