Ed "Pi Double i" Henderson
The Los Angeles Rams will meet the San Francisco 49ers this upcoming Sunday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Rams enter that game seeking to remain not only perfect in the NFC West division, but will also try to secure a potential first-round bye in this year playoff scenario. Win and they will earn that bye, a fate they seemed to be in the driver seat all season long until weeks #14 and #15 appeared.
However, the play of their starting quarterback Jared Goff will control their fate of destiny. Goff will enter that game to solely take over one record and add himself into the Rams record book as their all-time single-season passing leader.
Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner maintains the Rams record, but that record is in extreme danger of falling. Warner set the club record with 4,830 passing yards which helped him earn the NFL Most Valuable Player of the Year Award the 2001 season. However, don't think for one minute that the Rams head coach Sean McVay is not eyeing that mark.
As it stand, Goff trails Warner by 341 yards (4,489), as he faces a 49ers defense that has given up an average of 234 yards per game. In their first meeting of the season, Goff threw for just 202 yards, but the team's defense controlled the tone of the game with a barrage of sacks, two forced fumbles, and two interceptions.
As Goff strives forward of breaking Warner's record, he will have to meet a 49ers defense that did not include former Seattle Seahawks pro bowl corner, Richard Sherman. The 49ers secondary decimated with injuries lost yet another starting defensive back. They placed Ahkello Witherspoon on IR after beating the Seahawks the week previous to a knee injury.
Aside from having to face Sherman, the 49ers will feature a very young and inexperienced secondary. As with the lost to Witherspoon, fourth-year cornerback, K'Waun Williams is his backup; however, listed as questionable with a bad knee. Second-year corner Greg Maybin will be next in line if Williams cannot go. Maybin, whom already faced adversity earlier in the year when he was attacked multiple times in a Green Bay Packers resilient comeback against the 49ers. The Niners will have Tarvarius Moore another rookie available to play if Williams cannot go to back up both Maybin and Sherman.
The 49ers already lost safety Jimmie Ward for the season will be without their other starting safety Jaquiski Tart. The safety Tart was widely known for coming up as a punishing run stopper and playing well against the pass. Antone Exum, the fifth year safety, will start at Tart's strong safety position having to fill some big shoes.
At the free safety position, that Ward secured is now be playing by rookie D.J. Reed from Kansas State. The fifth-round product has had some flashes of being a sound player in this league; however, he will get a good dose against the Rams offense. Second-year safety Tyvis Powell, an undrafted player, will back up Reed when required. So, other than Sherman Goff should have more feast than phantom against the 49ers secondary.
However, can't get too comfortable with the pass unless they intend to control their front seven. The front seven is the Achilles of their defense that can apply much pressure. Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner the anchor of their defensive line applies the maximum duress from the line. The linebacking core of former Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith, Elijah Lee, and rookie Fred Warner is better than advertised.
Warner, in his rookie season from BYU who projected to be a day three selection of the 2018 NFL Draft surprisingly was taken in the third round by the 49ers. The speedy linebacker has recorded 109 tackles (75 solos) with six pass deflections. With the early injury, suspension, and release of Reuben Foster has made much of his opportunity.
Against the Chicago Bears last Sunday, the 49ers defense were able to not only contain Tarik Cohen but also limited the Bears offense to only 90 yards rushing. Yes, this is the same Bears team that rushed for over 194 yards against the Rams defense. That same defense was able to get to Mitchell Trubisky three times to sack him with Buckner getting one and not to forget Cassius Marsh twice the fifth year linebacker from UCLA.
We are confident that the Rams offensive line coach Aaron Kromer has been looking at multiple game film of the 49ers defensive front to prepare for Sunday's contest. This game will have a lot at stake and line will need to be almost flawless to keep Goff upright and control the run game.
Expect to watch for the Brandin Cooks to get many targets in this game as he has been quiet for the last three. Cooks only have 12 receptions for 116 yards in those games however he has not seen pay-dirt as a receiver all the back in week nine against the New Orleans Saints. Goff will need to get him acquainted with the end zone again as the Rams move forward to post-season.
Rams will probably look to attack the 49ers young secondary early to open up the run further if Todd Gurley is unavailable. That young safety backfield is the areas they will target early and often as Goff prepare to put his name atop of the Rams record book.