The San Francisco 49ers return home for a "Monday Night Football" primetime matchup against the Los Angeles Rams at Levi's® Stadium. The 49ers look to notch their second win at home this season after securing their first victory against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2.
For this week's Four Downs, 49ers team reporter Lindsey Pallares and 49ers spanish insider Jesús Zarate have joined me to break down several storylines ahead of the team's Week 4 matchup against the Rams.
1st Down: How Can the 49ers Right Their Wrongs from Week 3?
@LindseyLares: Finding their rhythm
The 49ers have to get into a rhythm on offense early to be successful against the Rams. San Francisco struggled to convert on third down against Denver, and this is a make-or-break stat for any team. If the 49ers offense can sustain drives and put themselves in better positions to score, that will provide a big boost to the team. Limiting penalties also played a factor in the flow of the offensive unit, so reducing these can help the team avoid long yardage situations that can be difficult to overcome.
@JesusZarate87: Taking care of the football
The 49ers should be able to correct their mistakes vs. the Rams because the majority of those are things they can control. It comes down to execution. For example, take better care of the football. Against Denver, the 49ers fumbled the ball three times, losing two of them, and had one pass intercepted. They also gave away two points to the Broncos on a safety. Even with all the mistakes, especially in the second half, San Francisco only lost by one point and always had a great chance of winning, so that's just proof of how talented this team is to elevate their game to a whole new level if they right their wrongs.
@BriMcDonaldTV: Protecting the quarterback
Last week's game took a turn once the nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams left the game with a high ankle sprain. Although there is a clear missing piece to the 49ers offensive line with Williams out heading into the Week 4 matchup, there is an opportunity for San Francisco's O-line to bounce back from last week's loss. With Daniel Brunskill back in action in this week's practices, he's likely to see plenty of playing time on the interior of the line in Monday's contest. Colton McKivitz will likely be the starting left tackle until Williams can return.
2nd Down: What's the 49ers Biggest Strength Heading into Week 4?
@LindseyLares: Defensive unit
The 49ers biggest strength continues to be their defensive unit. Even in a game where the offense was struggling to find a good rhythm, the defense kept the 49ers competitive against the Broncos, allowing just nine points in last Sunday's contest. Additionally, the unit came up with four sacks and two forced fumbles, limited Denver's rushing attack to 101 yards and kept Russell Wilson from throwing a single touchdown pass. For the next several weeks, the defense will be without linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair, who suffered an MCL sprain, but there is depth to work with at the linebacker position.
@JesusZarate87: Run game
The offense needs to keep up with the great way the 49ers defense is playing. On offense, even though they struggled vs. Denver, I still think it is a pretty good group. The 49ers biggest strength offensively is their running game. Remember, although they lost in Week 1, they had 176 total yards as a team and when they defeated Seattle in Week 2, they registered a total of 189 yards on the ground. San Francisco only managed 88 rushing yards vs. Denver. Of course, give credit to the Broncos defense, but I do believe the 49ers running game is their bread and butter on offense and every game they need to find different ways to get it going.
@BriMcDonaldTV: Edge rushers
San Francisco's edge rushers notched 4.0 sacks and nine quarterback hits on Russell Wilson in Week 3. Leading the 49ers, defensive lineman Nick Bosa has recorded at least 1.0 sack in every game so far this season. In fact, Pro Football Focus lists the 49ers defensive line in their "elite" category in their ranking of all 32 teams in the NFL.
3rd Down: Rematch You're Most Looking Forward To?
@LindseyLares: 49ers offensive line vs. Aaron Donald
A matchup that is always exciting to watch is three-time Defensive Player of the Year winner Aaron Donald vs. the 49ers offensive line. Even though the Rams won the last meeting between these two teams, Donald had really modest stats (for him) in the NFC Championship Game, recording just two quarterback hits and three total tackles. San Francisco has their work cut out for them this time around with Williams sidelined with an ankle injury.
@JesusZarate87: 49ers secondary vs. Cooper Kupp
I really want to see Cooper Kupp vs. the 49ers secondary. Last year, there were a lot of injuries to the team's corners and we saw constant changes because of that. A great player like Kupp will take advantage of that situation every time. The 49ers still defeated the Rams twice out of the three times they faced each other in 2021, but especially during the NFC Championship, I think the secondary had a hard time against Kupp. This year, the 49ers brought new pieces to the secondary like Charvarius Ward. Emmanuel Moseley keeps improving every year and Talanoa Hufanga is playing at a very high level. At the nickel position, San Francisco has two really good young players like Samuel Womack III and Deommodore Lenoir who can play there if needed. Tashaun Gipson Sr. is also doing a good job filling in for the injured Jimmie Ward.
@BriMcDonaldTV: Jeff Wilson Jr. vs. Rams rush defense
Last week, the Rams rush defense gave away significant yardage against the Arizona Cardinals run game, allowing 70 yards on 21 carries. On the other hand, Wilson Jr. had one of his biggest games last week in Denver where he recorded 12 carries for 75 yards, including a career-long 37-yard rush. This matchup should be a fun one for the Faithful to keep their eyes on.
4th Down: What is Your Bold Prediction for the Week 4 Matchup Against the Rams?
@LindseyLares: This game is going to be the bounce back game for the 49ers, similarly to what we saw last year in the Rams-49ers game on "Monday Night Football." I don't think it will be the same blowout as in 2021, but I predict San Francisco will score three passing touchdowns in this game.
@JesusZarate87: I think the 49ers offense will bounce back and have a really good day vs. the Rams scoring 28 points or more.
@BriMcDonaldTV: I predict tight end George Kittle will connect with Garoppolo on a 40+ yard pass.
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