The Scouting Report for Monday’s Rams-49ers game is produced by The 33rd Team’s Scouting Department, which is led by former Eagles, Cardinals and Ravens personnel executive T.J. McCreight and assisted by scouts Justin Casey, Kevin Cohn and Evan Pritt.
49ers’ Defensive Front vs. Rams’ OL
- The 49ers are a four-man rush team about 80% of the time. A lot of their pressure comes from stunts and loopers.
- Nick Bosa is the one elite player they have up front and he will line up on both sides. He is an instinctive and powerful technician who plays equally well against the pass and run.
- Arik Armstead is the interior player who can cause problems with his length and heavy hands to press the pocket. He injured his foot against Denver, and their defense looked different without him.
- The Rams’ offensive line is a group that has struggled with consistency. Center Brian Allen missed Weeks 2 and 3 with a knee injury. Allen is one of the better linemen of this group and has been missed since going down. Left tackle Joe Noteboom has had some consistency issues but has flashed talent. He is athletic and shows good strength but struggles when he loses his fundamentals. The rest of the group has struggled to play consistently as well. The Rams’ OL lacks athleticism and struggles with speed as well as stunts and games. They have failed to generate push at the point of attack and create holes in the run game. They rank 25th in sacks allowed per pass attempt and 30th in yards rushing per game.
- Noteboom will be tested by Bosa’s variety of rush moves.
- The 49ers have long athletic rushers inside who could cause major problems for the Rams, with Shelton sliding over to center and Alaric Jackson starting at guard.
Cooper Kupp vs. the 49ers’ secondary
- Kupp is off to another big start this season. He currently ranks sixth in yards receiving with 280 and tied for second with three touchdowns. He can run the whole route tree and is clearly Matthew Stafford’s favorite target. He does a great job creating separation with his feet and has very consistent hands. He lines up all across the formation on offense, and the Rams do a good job of finding ways to get him into favorable matchups.
- Last season vs. Kupp, the 49ers matched K’Waun Williams against him in the slot and did not allow him a free release. Williams signed with Denver in the offseason. Second-year corner Deommodore Lenoir has taken over the nickel spot. It’s hard to see how the outcome could be good for the 49ers if they let an inexperienced player take the primary responsibility for covering Kupp.
- Charvarius Ward has lined up primarily at left corner and Emmanuel Moseley on the right so far this season. Both have the feet, hips, and speed to run with any receiver they match up with. The 49ers could give Kupp a variety of looks by using both players to cover him throughout the night.
- The 49ers are a zone-heavy team, running some form of zone about 80% of the pass snaps. This could leave room for Kupp to exploit.
Aaron Donald vs. 49ers’ OL
- Extremely difficult to block, Donald will line up on both the left and right side and can cause fits for offensive linemen. Slippery, quick, and explosive, he can wiggle off blocks and find the football.
- The weakness of the 49ers’ OL is center Jake Brendel. Donald, on certain stunts, can find his matchup with Brendel. In the past, the Rams have stunted Donald to get him matched up on the center.
- This OL will double Donald and work screens to get him up the field and out of the play. They have guards that are capable enough to at least mitigate his effectiveness.
- Near the end of the game when the OL is gassed, Donald is often fresh enough to produce and make plays on those tired, worn down big men.
- 49ers All-Pro LT Trent Williams injured his right ankle last week and is likely to miss several weeks. He was originally replaced by Jaylon Moore. Moore really struggled and was replaced later by Colton McKivitz.
- Sean McVay is 4-7 vs. Kyle Shanahan after starting 3-1. The 49ers had won six in a row until the Rams won the NFC Championship.
- SS Talanoa Hufanga is the wild card you have to account for. He lines up all over. He is instinctive and aggressive. He is around the ball often. The Rams might look to take advantage of that aggressiveness with misdirection and screens, something McVay likes to do.
Rams’ Keys to Victory
- Get the ball out of Stafford’s hand quickly
- Make Jimmy G beat you by stopping the 49ers’ run game
49ers’ Keys to Victory
- Don’t allow Donald to dominate the game
- Feed Deebo the ball in any way possible
- Force Stafford to go to someone other than Kupp