As the San Francisco 49ers (4-11) try to win their first divisional game of the season, it won’t come easy as they face a very stingy St. Louis Rams (7-8) defense. Led by Rams Pro Bowl DT Aaron Donald, it will be his front seven that will try and set the tone on Sunday.
A play on strength against weakness as the 49ers will be without both C Marcus Martin and DE Quinton Dial, life should be easy for the Rams lines down in the trenches. The 49ers who will be without their top rookie in second-round pick SS Jaquiski Tartt, it will now be up to his childhood friend and teammate — DB Jimmie Ward to fulfill his role at strong safety.
Ward who has been playing lights out the past few weeks continues to make strides as the team’s nickel corner. In fact, he was rated by Pro Football Focus as the second best cornerback (Out of 80) in terms of snaps per target as he’s only targeted once every 97 snaps. In addition, Ward has only allowed a 44.6 passer rating which ranks 7th among all qualified cornerbacks.
However, this is a team sport and it will be up to the 49ers front seven to set the tone as they go up against a very physical Rams offensive line. The team will already be without two starters in DE Quinton Dial and DE Glenn Dorsey, so it will be up to first-round pick (No. 17) DE Arik Armstead and DE Mike Purcell to help set the edge.
In a nutshell I don’t see that happening, as too many players will be missing in action up front most notably ILB Michael Wilhoite who was just placed on season-ending IR. Wilhoite may not be an elite linebacker in the middle but he does a decent job in run support which will be huge on Sunday.
With the 49ers defense trying to do their part, it will be up to the 49ers stagnant offense to do theirs. Led by QB Blaine Gabbert who has been playing quite well since being named the entrenched starter, he will definitely need help from a depleted offensive line that will be without C/G Marcus Martin.
Martin is by no means a solid player but to think that G Jordan Devey is any better is foolish. What does this mean? Well, don’t be surprised if rookie G/C Ian Silberman gets his first live NFL action which by my estimation means disaster. Silberman was quite awful throughout training camp when taking reps. Whether under center or at guard, Silberman struggled mightily and I anticipate more of the same as he goes up against the Rams.
If the 49ers offensive line can’t generate enough push up front, this could mean disaster for San Francisco and ultimately that’s where I see this game going, as the Rams win a close one 20-17.
Sakamoto: 32-15 (Over/Under)
With the total points set at 37.5, I would slightly take the under. In a game where the Rams score at least 17 points, expect the 49ers offense to keep it close as both teams will not top 20 points.
Sakamoto: 28-19 (ATS)
With the 49ers being -3.5 point underdogs, I would take the Rams. A game in which I can see the 49ers easily covering the spread, I don’t think that will happen as the Rams will prove to be too much for the talented yet inexperienced 49ers secondary.
Fantasy Football (49/146)
As you know we select three players each game who we think will score touchdowns (quarterbacks omitted). Here are this week’s picks.
WR Tavon Austin
RB Tre Mason
TE Blake Bell
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