The San Francisco 49ers are headed to LA in Week 8 to meet their in-state and NFC West rivals, the Rams, for the second time this season. These two teams last squared off on "Monday Night Football" in Week 4 with San Francisco besting the reigning Super Bowl champs 24-9. Wednesday marked the team's first practice of the week and was headlined by a significant roster move and some notable absences.
CB Jason Verrett activated off the Reserve/PUP list
For the first time since Week 1 of the 2021 season, Verrett is available for game action. On Wednesday, the 49ers veteran corner was activated from the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform list after rehabbing from a knee injury for the past year. Verrett suffered a torn ACL in the 49ers 2021 season opener versus the Detroit Lions.
The team opened up Verrett's practice window on October 5 and made the decision to activate him on the final day of the 21-day practice window. Head coach Kyle Shanahan has yet to make a decision on whether or not Verrett will suit up against the Rams on Sunday.
"We'll keep doing the same things we've been doing with him in practice, and we'll see how it goes," Shanahan said. "I'm not ruling out this week. I'm really just waiting to see how he practices and then go from there."
"It was a long journey (for him) coming back with everything he's been through," safety Jimmie Ward added. "This team and I, we're happy to have him back."
RB Christian McCaffrey will be unleashed against the Rams
Per Shanahan, the 49ers newly acquired running back had about 20 plays available to him versus the Kansas City Chiefs after spending just 48 hours with the playbook. Even under those limited time constraints and available packages, McCaffrey still managed to take 22 snaps on offense and contributed eight carries for 38 yards in Sunday's contest.
Heading into Week 8, McCaffrey will have the advantage of a full week of preparation with the team. It also doesn't hurt that the Rams are a recent memory for No. 23. The running back last saw the Rams two weeks ago in what turned out to be his final game with the Carolina Panthers. He closed out that game with 13 carries for 69 yards and another 89 yards through the air. McCaffrey's integration into San Francisco's offense has been quick but his early returns are promising.
"It's a real challenge for anybody, but you have to work at it," Shanahan said when asked about McCaffrey picking up the language of the offense. "He did that a lot in the 48 hours he was here to be a part of it last week, and I'm not worried about him doing it this week too."
Per NFL Media Research, if McCaffrey starts in Week 8, he will join cornerback Marcus Peters (2019) as the only players since 2010 to start against the same opponent for two different teams in the same calendar month.
During his time with the Panthers, McCaffrey was playing 85-86 percent of the team's offensive snaps. Shanahan hasn't committed to any specifics on the running back's usage, but is looking forward to opening up the whole gameplan to him.
"It's something that you feel out once you get to know people," Shanahan said. "You get to know your team, you get to know a player, you get to know his backups, you just get familiar with people. I never go in with anybody I don't know and say a given amount of numbers or a stat or anything. I try to get to know the athlete, how they play throughout a game, how we use them and how you balance people out and that's usually how we do it."
Regardless of how many snaps he'll be taking versus the Rams, McCaffrey's dual-threat abilities provide Shanahan with another wrinkle in the offense that LA didn't have to prep for in Week 4.
"When you have someone like Christian, it's always a lot more fun," Shanahan said.