The San Francisco 49ers face another hard rough as they gear up for round two, this time in LA taking on the Rams and running back Todd Gurley who will be seeking redemption for a Week One shutout to the 49ers 28-0.
Now let’s take a look at Niners Live’s top 5 match-ups to watch.
49ers’ Head Coach Chip Kelly vs Rams’ Interim Head Coach John Fassel – With the firing of former Rams’ Head Coach Jeff Fisher coming less than two weeks ago, interim Coach and Special Teams Coordinator John Fassel, son of former Head Coach Jim Fassel, was thrust into a leadership role, clearly a bigger challenge than any he has faced in his career. In his first game last week, his team looked bewildered in a bad loss to the Seahawks 24-3. If you’re Chip Kelly and the 49ers, this must look like an opportunity to gain back some ground from the negative results this year has brought. If you want to earn some trust and buy-in from the players at some point, some positive results need to be achieved from all the hard work.
Will Head Coach Chip Kelly rise and meet this week’s challenge? As always, we shall see.
Running Back Todd Gurley vs 49ers’ Front Seven – The 6’1” and 225 lbs Gurley will look to redeem himself after a Week One performance where he was stymied by the 49ers’ front seven to the tune of 47 yards, negative five receiving yards, and less than 3 yards per carry, paving the way for a down season in which he has only averaged 3.2 yards per carry and gained less than 800 yards rushing. It will be interesting to see how Defensive Coordinator Jim O’Neil will compensate for the loss of not only Nick Bellore who went on to IR this week, but more notably Navarro Bowman who played in the first game and was a major reason for the 49ers’ successful defensive, reeling in an interception and finishing with seven tackles. The 49ers will need strong performances from the now re-activated Gerald Hodges, DeForest Buckner, and company to keep Gurley bottled up and contained.
Quarterback Jared Goff vs 49ers’ Secondary – Slated to make his 6th start on the season, the 6’4” and 210 lbs rookie signal caller will look to chalk up his first victory on Saturday against a short-handed 49ers’ secondary, who will be without starting cornerback Jimmie Ward who joined safety Eric Reid on the team’s IR list and is out for the season. The 49ers will certainly need Rashard Robinson and Jacquiski Tartt to step up big and perform against 6’3” and 215 lbs sure-handed Kenny Britt who has been the rams go-to man, hauling in 67 of his 107 targets for 987 yards and five touchdowns. The 49ers also cannot forget to pay attention to speedsters Tavon Austin and Brian Quick who have combined for six touchdowns and over 11 yards per reception, as well as tight end Lance Kendrick who has 80 targets for 45 catches and 451 yards, and two touchdowns, averaging 10 yards a reception.
Running Back Carlos Hyde vs Rams’ Front Seven Featuring Aaron Donald – With only 50 yards to reach 1,000, Hyde will be looking to inflict pain and continue his hot second half of the season where he has averaged over 4.5 yards per carry and looked good doing it. This may not be as easy as it seems, though, as the Rams boast one of the toughest front sevens in the game featuring 6’1” and 285 lbs defensive tackle recent Pro-Bowl selection Aaron Donald who has seven sacks and two forced fumbles on the season. William Hayes, the 6’2” and 258 lbs defensive end, is also a player to watch as he has 4.0 sacks and 25 tackles this season, and has forced seven fumbles in his career.
Colin Kaepernick vs Rams’ Secondary – After another unspectacular performance last week, this week again may be a tough out for Kap and the 49ers’ 32nd ranked passing attack. With the likes of starting wide receivers Torrey Smith (concussion) likely out and Quinton Patton placed on IR, Kap will need to count on Jeremy Kerley “the open man” again to carry the load with some help from an unexpected supporting cast. The Rams’ secondary, which is ranked in the top 10 in yards giving up only 3,219 yards, featuring safety 6’3” and 219 lbs T.J McDonald, son of former 49ers’ great Tim McDonald, had been solid with 43 tackles, five passes defended, one sack, and one interception.
I leave you with this – It seems like so long ago when you look back to that Week One game where the Niners looked like a totally different team, giving fans and players a good feeling about what was to come. What a fitting way for it to all come to a head with a rematch against the team that made you look out-classed not merely less than 12 weeks ago. It is a rematch of two bitter NFC West Rivals. Will Chip Kelly get out-coached again by a coach who has no head coaching experience? It certainly would not be a good look on Coach Kelly to lose to a coach who only has one week of head coaching experience, especially with the status of the front office and personnel still up in the air. We’ll see what happens…. Always remember, #EYESWIDEOPEN
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All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus,49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author Irvin Johnson Staff Writer at Niners Live. Co-Author/Editor Niners Live.