Ed "Pi Double i" Henderson
Los Angeles Rams wide-receiver Robert Woods has given all indication that he will be handling the slot position on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. The second-year receiver stated in his interview on Friday about his opinion on the move:
"It's not anything different... stilly playing a receiver position." "Just moved around with different formations and certain plays."
Woods is taking over the slot position while Cooper Kupp recovers from an MCL sprain he sustained against the Denver Broncos by an illegal "horse-collar" type tackle. Kupp who primarily plays in the slot was replaced by Woods who stepped up again for the second consecutive week to lead the Rams in receiving yardage.
In his last four games, Woods have contributed with 27 receptions for 406 yards and three touchdowns to the lead the Rams in receiving throughout that period. He leads the team in total receptions and receiving yards this season with 36 reception and 524 yards. Fellowed receiver has 28 receptions for 505 with one touchdown, with Kupp who leads the team in touchdown receptions with five.
Rams will now rely on second-year receiver Josh Reynolds to play outside in Woods place and are optimistic he can be productive when given the opportunity. Against the Seattle Seahawks, both Kupp and Cooks left that game with concussions as Reynolds stepped up in a big way ripping off a jet sweep for good yardage and two consecutive receptions resulting in first downs.
The very talented Woods who can play outside as a receiver and can be much as effective in the slot. Will he be magic again this week against the team he torched last season, is a question that remains answered by tomorrow afternoon at Levi Stadium.
Last season in their first nationally televised game, Woods played his best game since joining the Rams. Woods and receiver Sammy Watkins whom the Rams acquired in a trade, both had over 100 yards receiving against that 49ers team. Watkins enjoyed his best night hauling in six receptions for 106 yards and two touchdowns, and Woods as well with six receptions for 108 yards, but yet to celebrate his first touchdown since joining his hometown team.
Tomorrow's game both teams will be featuring their "Color Rush" uniforms, in a match which initially was scheduled as a flex Sunday Night Game. Unfortunately, the 49ers unsuccess this season especially losing starting quarterback Jimmy Garopollo to a season-ending injury, the league chose to move the game back to its standardized game time. What a shame for the Rams as they have taken the league by storm again this season with the league's only undefeated team.
49ers second-year quarterback C.J. Beathard surprisingly has been engineering the team's offense with a good run game from Matt Breida and great chemistry with for Iowa Hawkeye teammate George Kittle and speedy receiver Marquise Goodwin. Veteran receiver Pierre Garcon gave the Rams problems last season is listed questionable to play with a shoulder and knee issues.
However, they have far more concerns on the other side of the ball with their defensive backfield. Cornerbacks Richard Sherman (calf), K'Waun Williams (shoulder), and Ahkello Witherspoon (concussion) all listed as questionable. Starting cornerback, Jimmie Ward has already been ruled out with a hamstring injury.
The 49ers defensive backfield was exposed this past Monday night against the Green Bay Packers in the fourth quarter. With 2:59 left in a game receiving the punt, Aaron Rodgers erased a seven-point lead to scoring ten unanswered points to beat the Niners late.
Decimated by injuries to their defensive backs, Rodgers went after the inexperience safety Adrian Colbert and found Davante Adams at the back of the end zone to tie the game. The 49ers on a third a short try to throw a deep pass to Goodwin, but Kevin King comes up with a questionable interception. A play not stopped for further booth review; it appeared that King didn't control the process of the catch before the ball touched the ground. Rodger then would pick on second-year cornerback Greg Maybin on back to back to passing plays to Adams to set the Packers up with a game-winning Mason Crosby field to win the game 33-30.
Don't think for one minute that Rams head coach Sean McVay has not already been plotting for ways of preparing for Woods to expose the Niners weakness of their defensive backfield.
Further concerns the Niner front seven as DT DeForest Buckner and DE Arik Armstead provides a strong defensive line with pressure. Buckner leads the team with sacks, but Niners probably have one of the better linebacking crew in league with Rueben Foster, Fred Warner, and former Seattle Seahawk and Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith. All three linebackers are versatile and can play any of the three backers positions; however, they all can run, with Smith who ran a 4.45 and Warner and Foster sub 4.60 that can run and cover.
Let that not be a scare tactic as we know that McVay has done his due diligence in preparation and perhaps this will be the week in addition to Woods; you’ll see the tight-ends Tyler Higbee, and Gerald Everett erupting for big plays.
The Rams are a 9½ point favorite over the 49ers with an over/under of 52.5 points. Sports booking agents is predicting another shootout like last season "Color Rush" game as the Rams held on to be the Niners 41-39.