At 3-3, the Rams have an opportunity to get their season going in the right direction, although that will be no easy task considering Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers have owned Sean McVay and L.A. in the regular season.
Overall, Shanahan is 8-3 against McVay and the Rams in the regular season and that includes seven straight wins. The Rams did beat them when it mattered most, however, winning last year’s NFC Championship Game and then going on to win the Super Bowl.
The 49ers got back to their dominance over the Rams in Week 4 though with a 24-9 victory in Santa Clara.
So with that being said, let’s get into how Shanahan has had McVay’s number in past meetings and what the Rams can do differently this time around to combat it.
Rams defense vs. 49ers offense
The main reason that San Francisco has dominated L.A. is a pretty simple one in that they have often been the more physical team on both sides of the ball.
Defensively, the Rams have struggled to contain the 49ers’ run game whether it be Elijah Mitchell, Jeff Wilson Jr., Deebo Samuel. This time, it will be Christian McCaffrey after San Francisco beat out L.A. in trade talks with the Carolina Panthers.
The 49ers have been able to control the clock offensively, winning the time of possession battle in five of the last seven meetings while outgaining the Rams on the ground by an average of 42 yards.
Additionally, Shanahan has been very smart in calling passing plays that allow Jimmy Garappolo to get the ball out of his hands quickly in the short and intermediate areas of the field that he thrives in.
The Rams have a quality pass rush led by Aaron Donald, but that has been neutralized by Garappolo getting the ball out of his hands so quickly.
And then finally, the Rams seem to always miss tackles against the 49ers. The main culprit here is Samuel, who is probably the hardest receiver in the NFL to tackle in the open field. After the Oct. 3 matchup in which the Rams missed tackle after tackle and it cost them, hopefully they put more of an emphasis on that this time around.
Rams offense vs. 49ers defense
The 49ers boast one of the best defenses in the NFL and a big reason for that is their pass rush led by Nick Bosa.
Bosa alone had 14 pressures in the first meeting between those two teams as the Rams offensive line struggled to keep him contained.
That poses problems for Matthew Stafford, who has struggled to take care of the ball when under pressure. In three regular-season matchups with the 49ers, Stafford has thrown six touchdowns and six interceptions while being sacked 14 times.
Those are game-changing type plays that the Rams offense will need to avoid if they want to come out on top. L.A.’s offense struggles enough as is, and things get even more challenging when they’re giving the ball to the other team as they have so often in matchups with San Francisco.
The good news is that the Rams are getting back some key offensive pieces in center Brian Allen and wide receiver Van Jefferson.
That won’t change the Rams’ lack of a run game, which has factored into the time-of-possession battle so often in these matchups. If they can create some explosive plays that result in touchdowns as opposed to field goals though then that is the best path to beating this 49ers defense. That is easier said than done, as evidenced by all of the previous regular-season matchups between these teams.
At 3-3, the Rams have a prime opportunity to beat the 3-4 49ers and take a hold of first place in the NFC West (barring a Seattle Seahawks loss). But to make that happen, McVay and L.A. will have to correct the mistakes that have plagued them in past meetings.