The San Francisco 49ers looked like one of the best teams in the NFL while beating down the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road last week. But it was expected the 49ers would be good if Brock Purdy could continue his form from last season. The Los Angeles Rams beating up on the Seattle Seahawks on the road was the major surprise.
While there was some thought that the Seahawks would regress from last season, not many thought the Rams would be the team to expose them. Los Angeles has an aging core of superstars that looked like they were on their last legs last season. But the Rams looked energized and ready to dig in and fight with the always-game 49ers.
49ers Have Crunched the Rams Recently
The 49ers are 7.5-point road favorites for when they travel for a 4:25 p.m. kickoff at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles on Sunday. Recent history between the teams suggests there is a good reason for San Francisco being north of a touchdown as a favorite.
The 49ers have won eight of the last nine games between the two sides. San Francisco swept the series last season by grabbing 31-14 and 24-9 victories. What is notable about the recent history between the teams is the Rams did get Los Angeles’ only win in the series since 2019, a 20-17 win in the NFC Championship game on Jan. 30, 2022.
Rams Receivers Showed They Had Depth
Playing with star receiver Cooper Kupp wasn’t a big deal for the Rams last week. The next three weeks, while Kupp is on IR with a hamstring injury, will say a lot about the team’s prospects of winning an NFC West Division title. Los Angeles quarterback Matthew Stafford was able to get the young guys involved last week.
Tutu Atwell and Puka Nacua both finished tied for a team-high with 119 receiving yards. Nacua was making his NFL debut after Los Angeles drafted him out of BYU this past spring. Atwell, who is in his second year in the league, set a career-high for yards in a game
Mr. Irrelevant vs. No. 1 pick
The quarterback matchup between Purdy and Stafford will be a first in NFL history. The last pick in the NFL Draft has been jokingly deemed “Mr. Irrelevant,” and they have an award ceremony to honor the recipient every year. In many seasons, the person chosen in that spot doesn’t make a roster and is either on a practice squad or out of football soon after.
But Purdy bucked that trend last season when he stepped in due to injury and helped lead the 49ers to the NFC Championship game. Stafford had a path to success laid out in front of him from the get-go. He was chosen first in the 2009 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions.
Stafford had a long, successful tenure in New York before being dealt to the Los Angeles Rams a few seasons ago. He led the Rams to a Super Bowl championship in the 2022 season. Stafford missed much of the 2023 season with an injury, so this will be an interesting matchup between the two quarterbacks.
Bosa Works Out the Kinks
San Francisco’s pass rusher dominated the supposedly-rebuilt Pittsburgh offense line last Sunday during a 30-7 win. 49ers star defensive end Nick Bosa would like to be more involved this week. Bosa, who played 35 snaps after holding out of training camp due to a contract dispute, said he was feeling sore after the game.
Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett felt a little sore after feeling the heat from San Francisco’s pass rush. Pickett was sacked six times, including three times by Drake Jackson. Bosa finished with two tackles. Getting Bosa back was a big boost of confidence. Bosa recorded double-digit sacks in the past two seasons. Bosa led the league by recording 18.5 sacks last season.
Rams Running Game May Be in For Hard Time
Los Angeles carved up a weak Seattle secondary last week during its win. The Rams did struggle to move the ball on the ground. Cam Akers only averaged 1.3 yards per carry, taking the ball 22 times for 29 yards.
Kyren Williams led the team by rushing for 52 yards on 15 carries. San Francisco’s defense line didn’t allow Pittsburgh to run the ball successfully at all. The Steelers are a team that wants to try and run the ball. San Francisco will be aggressive in trying to make the Rams one dimensional.
Los Angeles Adds New Backup Quarterback
The Rams put rookie quarterback Stetson Bennett on the reserve/non-football injury list. Las Angeles coach Sean McVay said Bennett is dealing with an issue “bigger than football.” In his place, the Rams added 27-year-old quarterback Brett Rypien.
Rypien, who played at Boise State, had spent the previous three seasons with the Denver Broncos. Rypien was forced into action several times due to injury. In eight career appearances, Rypien has passed for 778 yards with four touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Christian McCaffrey Feels Back at Home in Bay Area
Anyone who says you can’t go home again better tell San Francisco running back Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey, who played collegiately at Stanford, has been an important contributor for San Francisco since he arrived there in a trade from Carolina last season. McCaffrey rushed for 746 yards in 11 games with San Francisco last season.
The 49ers have seen their trade pay off again this season. McCaffrey got the ball a league-high 22 times on the ground in Week 1. He sliced through the Pittsburgh defense for 152 yards and scored on a 65-yard touchdown run. McCaffrey is also a capable receiver and caught three passes for 17 yards.