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Los Angeles Rams X-Factors To Watch Against The 49ers

The 7-2 Los Angeles Rams are heading to Levi Stadium for a Monday Night Football matchup against the struggling 3-5 San Francisco 49ers. The Rams are the clear favorite despite being in hostile territory. Despite their records, the 49ers have had the Rams number the last two seasons sweeping the Rams in 2019 and 2020. Sean McVay is once again being praised as the best young head coach while his rival Kyle Shanahan has seemingly begun to wear out his welcome as the 49ers head for another losing season. Let’s take a look at this week’s x-factors for Monday night.

Offensive Line Rebound

It is no secret that the Rams offensive line was dominated last week by the Tennessee Titans. Throughout the season they have been a top-five unit and last Sunday was a disappointing performance. However, I think it was more an off day at the office as opposed to the offensive line being exposed. Regardless, that type of performance cannot happen again. The Rams must rebound and protect Matthew Stafford at all costs. Starting center Brian Allen may miss the game with an elbow injury. Insert Coleman Shelton with 31 snaps in his career.

The 49ers defensive line is lackluster in terms of pass rush. Nick Bosa headlines the team with 33 pressures and 7 sacks. Meanwhile, Arik Armstead adds 25 pressures and 2 sacks. No other defender has more than 10 pressures. The offensive line has an opportunity to rebound from a horrific performance and dominate the trenches against a division rival. How the Rams offensive line responds following a poor showing will be one of the most critical x-factors in this game.

Defensive Dominance

It is also no secret that Raheem Morris’s defense dominated the Titans and seems to be hitting their stride now. The 49ers like to run the ball and they do it with relative success. However, the Rams are quietly a top 10 run defense, currently sitting at seventh. Elijah Mitchell and Trey Sermon make a pretty good tandem as they average 5 yards per carry. Rookie Ernest Jones has an opportunity to show off his internal GPS and shut down a talented rushing attack.

At quarterback, the 49ers are in-between limbo and suffering. Jimmy Garoppolo has thrown just 8 touchdowns to 5 interceptions and has 12 turnover worthy throws. Meanwhile, rookie Trey Lance just hasn’t looked ready for the NFL yet as he has barely completed 50% of his passes. It might get worse on Monday night if the Rams finally unleash Von Miller along with Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd. Deebo Samuel has been the 49ers’ only big receiving threat this season; I’d like to see Jalen Ramsey shadow him and shut him and his mouth down. The Rams’ defensive performance will be one of the most interesting x-factors to watch against the 49ers.

Shake The Detroit Off Stafford

Stafford has the worst game of his Rams tenure thus far. He just never looked comfortable and spotted the Titans 14 points. Wash it off, leave it behind, move one. The Rams have a talented receiving corps that includes Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Van Jefferson, and newly acquired Odell Beckham Jr. The 49ers no longer have Robert Saleh calling the defense. However, the 49ers do have some talent at cornerback. One player to target and stress though is Josh Norman. Norman has given up four touchdowns and a 123.4 passer rating as well as being assessed seven penalties. McVay should scheme receivers to get one on one opportunities against him regardless of who that receiver is.

This would be a great time for Stafford to shake the stink off from last week and show everyone he is every bit of the MVP candidate he was prior to last week. He has an opportunity to beat the rival 49ers in their own house and show Shanahan why Los Angeles and McVay are the NFC West darlings. I want to see Stafford rebound with four touchdowns and put his foot on the neck of the 49ers. How Stafford shakes off a bad performance and leads the offense will be one of the most intriguing x-factors to watch on Monday night.

Coaching

McVay and Shanahan have been compared since both came to California in 2017. Shanahan has been gifted every excuse despite one winning season in 5 years (including 2021). Meanwhile, McVay has had 5 winning seasons (including 2021). The series between the coaches is 5-3 in favor of Shanahan with the 49ers winning the last 4 matchups, mostly because McVay has been out-coached in those games. That cannot happen this week. McVay needs to show he has learned to adjust in-game and that he isn’t afraid to go for the knockout punch.

McVay needs to dive into his bag and out-scheme and out-coach Shanahan. He needs to motivate his team to not let an inferior team hang around and keep it close. McVay needs to go out like a prizefighter and keep swinging blow after blow until the 49ers crumble and they hang their heads in defeat. How McVay coaches and schemes in-game in primetime will be one of the most Important x-factors to watch against the 49ers.

Odell Beckham Jr. Joins The Los Angeles Rams. Photo Credit: Brevin Townsell | LA Rams

Odell Beckham Jr. Joins The Los Angeles Rams. Photo Credit: Brevin Townsell | LA Rams

Joshua Kollack

Author Joshua Kollack

I am a husband and father of three of the coolest kids on the planet. We also have a Yellow Lab named Luna. My “regular” job is as a nurse. I was involved in sports journalism in high school and studied mass communications before nursing school. I played offensive and defensive line from the fifth grade through high school. I have been a huge football fan since I was young and I grew up a fan of the St. Louis Rams. I’m also a fan of the St. Louis Blues, Los Angeles Lakers, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and Illinois Fighting Illini. I’ve been following the NFL Draft since I was 10 and enjoy scouting prospects. When I’m not working I am spending time with my family or traveling.

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