The San Francisco 49ers travel to Los Angeles to face the Rams for their second matchup of the season. The 49ers defeated the Rams 24-9 in Week 4, and look to sweep the series this Sunday at SoFi Stadium. Should San Francisco record a win this week, the team will enter their Week 9 Bye with their record .500 on the season.
"I've felt it throughout the week, honestly, just there's a sense of urgency with the guys," quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said. "We have to do this together. No individual's going to do it on his own. We have to do this as a team. And I think that's what has made us great in the past. We just have to get back to that."
For this week's Four Downs, 49ers team reporter Lindsey Pallares and 49ers Spanish insider Jesús Zárate have joined me to break down several storylines ahead of the team's Week 8 contest against Los Angeles. We also answer questions directly from the Faithful exclusive for the 49ers Supporters Club. To get your questions answered, sign up for the 49ers Supporters Club here.
1st Down: What's Changed Since the Team's Matchup in Week 4?
Since Week 4, the 49ers acquired a new offensive weapon in McCaffrey, and that's definitely something to be excited about. Having an all-around back like McCaffrey should provide the 49ers with a nice boost in terms of scoring ability, and unlike last week, he has had a full week of practice with the team and more time to absorb the playbook. Earlier this week, head coach Kyle Shanahan said McCaffrey had about 20 plays available to him in the team's contest versus the Kansas City Chiefs. In Week 8, Shanahan opened up the game plan fully to McCaffrey, so expect him to get more touches come Sunday.
@JesusZarate87: Injures impacting the roster
Since the 49ers defeated the Rams 24-9 in Week 4 there have been key changes. San Francisco's defense does not look as dominant as in the first five games of the season. But don't forget, injuries have a lot to do with it. For example, Emmanuel Moseley is out for the year and that moved Deommodore Lenoir from nickel to the outside corner spot. On the positive side, Jason Verrett was activated on Wednesday from the PUP list and that should be a huge boost for the defense once he is at 100 percent.
@BriMcDonaldTV: Rams players back from injury
The Rams are going to look slightly different from when the two teams first faced off in Week 4. Los Angeles will potentially have five new players in the mix of their game plan. Rams wide receiver Van Jefferson, defensive back Troy Hill and center Brian Allen are all expected to play on Sunday. Linebacker Travin Howard is expected to contribute to the team and add depth to their defensive unit. Defensive lineman Bobby Brown III is also back from his six-game suspension, however, his availability for Sunday's game is still to be determined. The 49ers will have to prepare for what these Rams players can bring to gameday.
2nd Down: How Can the Team Bounce Back Before Their Bye?
@LindseyLares: A sense of urgency
One thing we have heard Shanahan and several players speak about this week is urgency, and that's going to play a big role in a bounce back performance in Los Angeles. This team is eager to get back to their winning ways, and there is no doubt in anyone's mind that there is more than enough talent on this roster to do so. The team's sense of urgency this week is pushing them to play cleaner, more disciplined football, and I think that is going to translate onto the field in the form of less penalties and turnovers and more physical play.
@JesusZarate87: Playing "49ers football"
In the game vs. Kansas City, the 49ers made mistakes on both sides of the ball. That's very uncharacteristic of the team, but it also tells us they are able to play way better. If they eliminate penalties, turnovers and have better protection from the offensive line, the 49ers attack should be more efficient. On the defensive side of the ball, the 49ers must pressure the quarterback as much as possible. If they go back to playing 49ers football, they should be able to bounce back before the Bye.
@BriMcDonaldTV: Being the more physical team
Ahead of the team's first practice this week, Shanahan said that he knows what to expect from the Rams and vice versa – Sunday's game will simply come down to who is the most physical team and who is going to make the most plays. For San Francisco, that means they will have to play clean and dominant football. I believe that the 49ers can secure a win before their Bye week if they don't allow any explosive plays from the Rams offense and if they can establish a strong run game.
3rd Down: Who Are You Most Looking Forward to See Play Against the Rams?
I am ready to see McCaffrey unleashed against the Rams. It's super helpful that McCaffrey has already played LA this year, and that game is fresh in his memory given that it took place just a couple weeks ago. As I mentioned earlier, he will have a full nine days with the team since his trade, so he's going to have a bigger hand in the offense this week. He's the player to watch in Week 8.
I'm looking forward to see Williams play against the Rams. Last week was his first game reps since he sustained an ankle injury in Denver and he did not have his best game. But we all know the great player Williams is and he'll bounce back pretty soon.
In Bosa's first game back from a groin injury, the edge rusher notched 1.0 sack on Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. After getting re-acclimated to gameday readiness with his team, I think Bosa has the potential to have a highlight-worthy game against Los Angeles, as the Rams offensive line has allowed 22.0 total sacks on quarterback Matthew Stafford so far this season.
4th Down: What is Your Bold Prediction for the Week 8 Matchup Against the Rams?
@LindseyLares: My bold prediction is that the 49ers extend their regular season win streak versus the Rams to eight-straight games.
@JesusZarate87: My bold prediction against the Rams is that San Francisco's running game will return and the team will run the football for at least 150 total yards.