The undefeatedSan Francisco 49ersface their toughest test of the season on Sunday when they travel to Los Angeles to face theRams. Coming off their Monday night beatdown of theCleveland Browns, the 49ers are on a much shorter week than the Rams, who lost their second game of the season last Thursday against theSeattle Seahawks. Sunday proves an opportunity for Kyle Shanahan and crew to make it three-straight losses for the Rams and further establish their lead over the NFC West.
Here are five players to watch in the 49ers’ Week 6 matchup:
The 49ers got the bad news on Wednesday that starting right tackle,Mike McGlincheywould miss four to six weeks while he recovers from a minor knee procedure stemming from an injury suffered against the Browns. The offense is now without both starting tackles, while veteranJoe Staleycontinues to recover from a Week 2 fractured fibula. Sixth-round rookieJustin Skulehas filled in admirably forStaley, and now we’ll see ifBrunskillcan do the same. Formerly of the Alliance of American Football,Brunskillwas signed by the 49ers in April to a one-year contract and impressed during training camp, earning a spot on the final 53-man roster. Both he and Skule will play a pivotal role in protecting quarterbackJimmy Garoppoloagainst a formidable Rams defensive front.
Was there any way we couldn’t include Bosa? The 49ers’ No. 2 pick was the best player on the field on Monday, dominating the Browns’ offensive line and continually tormenting quarterbackBaker Mayfield. Bosa authored the best pass-rush performance from a rookie since the creation of Pro Football Focus, totaling nine pressures, two sacks, three quarterback hits, four quarterback hurries, two total tackles, three stops, one forced fumble and an elite overall grade of 92.3. The Rams’ offensive line isn’t stellar. The 49ers will be counting on another strong performance from Bosa to keep Sean McVay’s offense at bay.
It’s our second week in a row, includingPettis. After scoring the game-winning touchdown in Week 3 against theSteelers, we were looking for the second=year wideout to take another step forward against the Browns in establishing himself as the 49ers’ leading wideout. Instead,Pettis’ highlight came on a brutal drop on what would’ve been a walk-in touchdown.Garoppolowas noticeably displeased after the play. Eyes will again be on Pettis, whether as a playmaker or liability, among a lackluster group of wideouts that are begging for someone to step up. Rams cornerbacksMarcus PetersandAqib Talibare more bark than bite at this point. The opportunity is there for Pettis to establish himself.
Everyone expected the Browns to pick on undrafted free agent cornerbackEmmanuel Moseleyon Monday, making his first start. Instead, it wasShermanwho gave up the most receptions. The veteran seemed content in allowing bothOdell Beckham Jr.andJarvis Landryto catch the shorter stuff, giving up sideline routes for 10-15 yards on multiple occasions. He also reeled in a leaping interception in the first quarter. On Sunday,Shermanand the rest of the secondary face off against another dangerous receiving group featuringCooper Kupp,Robert Woods, andBrandin Cooks. QuarterbackJared Goffis averaging 317 yards per game, ranking second in the NFL. A vintage performance from Sherman will go a long way in getting the 49ers offense back on the field.
Wardmade his first start of the season on Sunday after recovering from a broken finger suffered during training camp. There was little to take away fromWard’s performance that included three total tackles and one-stop. He earned a respectable 74.0 grade from PFF against the run but struggled in coverage with a 58.2. Ward, routinely playing the role of single-high safety, should expect to be targeted more against a Rams offense that has become one-dimensional, relying on the passing game to move the ball. The 49ers coaching staff has long held Ward in high esteem despite a myriad of injuries. Sunday will be a strong opportunity for Ward to show why.