By Joe Torosian
Monday, I like the Rams over the 49ers—27-20.
After winning three of their first four head-to-head matchups, Sean McVay has lost four consecutive games to Kyle Shanahan’s San Francisco 49ers.
And it always seems like the Rams go into a game with Frisco expected to win. But like the New Orleans defense appears to have a thing about Tom Brady, Shanahan has something that reads McVay’s thoughts.
Before Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr., the Rams were favored to win Monday night’s game. Now, logically, they should be favored by even more.
Regarding OBJ, who just turned 29, I’m all in if ring chasing is his priority. If brand chasing is the priority, then I’m not happy. If brand chasing is second to ring chasing, then this is an extraordinary move.
The question I got online was this: “Aren’t we just replacing the problem of DeSean Jackson for the problem of OBJ?”
Jackson can still run a mean fly-pattern—and that’s it. OBJ can do everything else, so he’s a little more tolerable.
My only fear is McVay completely abandons the running game. And that works for a while, but it won’t work in January.
This game feels like a blowout, but the 49ers are a sound team that seems to have lost its way. What better week than this one to find themselves? And it comes down to consistency on offense. Jimmy Garoppolo has struggled, thus the offense has struggled, and pressure’s been put on the defense to be perfect. Frisco has nice linebackers in Fred Warner and Azeez Al-Shaair. But former Ram Samson Ebukam is getting exposed as a starter.
Note to Sean McVay: You’re offensive line and quarterback took a beating last week. Run the ball. Don’t worry about getting your new toy targets, be concerned about winning in the trenches.
We get to see Miller this week. Cool. But keep an eye on Jordan Fuller. After a so-so start, the second-year safety is getting better by the week.
Ultimately it is as simple as this–if the Rams come out hungry, it should be a rout. But they don’t always come out hungry. It’ll be closer than it should, but the Rams will pull it out.
The Rams take “The Wendell Tyler Trophy.”
(On April 25, 1983, the Rams traded running back Wendell Tyler, defensive tackle Cody Jones, and a third-round pick to the 49ers. In return, the Rams got two picks. A second (Linebacker Mike Wilcher, 36th overall) and a fourth (Kicker Chuck Nelson, 87th overall). Two seasons later, Tyler was a Super Bowl champion. Jones never played for the 49ers, and the third-round pick (59th overall) was UCLA linebacker Blanchard Montgomery—who played two seasons and earned a ring with the team in 1984.
Final Note—Update on Rams 2021 Free Agents:
(Did you know the Rams are getting compensation picks for all these guys?)
John Johnson III and Troy Hill are starters for the Cleveland Browns but have been far from spectacular.
Samson Ebukam, who signed with the 49ers, is currently graded by PFF as the 82nd overall edge defender out of 110. He got a two-year/12-rocks (Five guaranteed) contract in the offseason. So far, he’s appeared in eight games, starting the last two, and has one sack.
Gerald Everett has played six games for the Seahawks. He has just 15 total targets, 14 total receptions, for 135yds, and just one touchdown.
Josh Reynolds, the Rams’ third receiver the last two seasons, signed with the Tennessee Titans. He appeared in five games, was targeted 13 times, had ten receptions and zero touchdowns. Inactive against the Rams last Sunday night, Reynolds was released on Tuesday. The Detroit Lions signed him on Thursday.
Austin Blythe, the Rams starting center for 26 consecutive games (including playoffs), has not played a single snap for the Kansas City Chiefs this season.
The 49ers lead the Rams head-to-head: 73-67-3. (Including, a 30-3 victory in 1989 NFC Championship)
The first time these teams met was October 1, 1950, at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco. A crowd of 27,262 saw the Rams roll to a 35-14 victory. The 49ers tied the game at 14 in the third, and LA immediately responded with Vitamin Smith returning the ensuing kickoff 97-yards to paydirt. Later, Deacon Dan Towler broke off a 34-yard scoring run and followed it with a 1-yard touchdown plunge in the fourth. Quarterback Frankie Albert led Frisco with two scoring tosses.
These teams have met nine times on Monday Night Football, and the 49ers lead, 5-4, overall.
The Rams have only beaten the 49ers once at home, but never in Los Angeles. The only home win came in 2002 in St. Louis. But they’ve only lost once on Frisco’s home field. That was the 2016 disaster that opened the total disaster the first season back in Los Angeles became.
Monday Night Matches:
1972: Candlestick—Rams 26, 49ers 14
1974: Candlestick—Rams 15, 49ers 13
1976: Coliseum—49ers 16, Rams 0
1985: Candlestick—Rams 27, 49ers 20
1989: Anaheim Stadium—49ers 30, Rams 27
1991: Anaheim Stadium—49ers 33, Rams 10
2002: Edward Jones Dome—Rams 31, 49ers 20
2014: Edward Jones Dome—49ers 31, Rams 17
2016: Levi’s Stadium—49ers 28, Rams 0
Days & Numbers of Future Past:
(Wore The Number Before)
Jordan Fuller #4—Before Fuller, Greg Zuerlein (2012-2019) kicked the ball for the Rams. Mike Lansford (1982-1989) wore #4 kicking for the team in 1982 but switched to #1 in 1983.
Odell Beckham Jr. #?—I don’t know what number OBJ will be wearing, but I looked up LSU receivers who have stood out as Rams. Great idea, bad result. Only two popped.
Todd Kinchen was a third-round pick (60th overall) in 1992. That season he returned two punts for touchdowns. In the first season in St. Louis, 1995, he hit the spotlight when he punched the padded goalpost after a score. And that was Todd Kinchen’s career.
Eddie Kennison was a first-round pick (18th overall) in 1996. He caught 54 passes his first year, but only 52 the next two. The Rams dealt him to New Orleans in February of 1999 for a second-round pick (41st overall) who turned into Dre’ Bly. Kennison eventually landed in in Kansas City and had a solid career.
Dolphins 22, Ravens 10:
***Something seemed off with the Dolphins when they didn’t challenge Devonta Freeman’s first-quarter run for a first down—after clearly being touched when he slipped behind the line of scrimmage. Now it doesn’t matter.
***I guess it was the Thurs—DAY of The Dolphin last night? (Well, all the jokes can’t be good, you have to expect that once in a while.)
***If the Dolphins had a quarterback, they might be dangerous. The Ravens would be dangerous if they had a defense with a better attention span.
***I know it’s heresy to say, but Lamar Jackson has looked incredibly mortal these last few weeks. Don’t get me wrong, he’s very good. But a book is being written, and the better defenses are beginning to comprehend and adding chapters.
***In recent drafts, Miami scored at free safety with Jevon Hollins (36th overall 2021) and strong safety with Brandon Jones (70th overall). Fun to watch.
***Finally—I was so happy for Dolphins guard Robert Hunt. Maybe he was praying that someone had tipped the ball, but his catch—and score!—on his “illegal touching” penalty was just awesome. It might have been the best thing all night. It reminded me of a story about a receiver (my receiver) catching the ball near the sideline. Losing his orientation, he ran unknowingly ran out of bounds and just kept running—thinking he was breaking away for a score. He should have got credit for the effort, and Hunt should have got some kind of credit for that play. Maybe an extra-donut at film.
(Winners in Bold)
Saints-Titans—If this was in the dome, I’d think different…but it’s in Nashville and, believe it or not, Ryan Tannehill is the difference.
Bills-Jets—This has to be a blowout, right? Buffalo has to run the ball.
Lions-Steelers—A lot of folks think the Steelers are due…for a clunker. Not this week.
Jaguars-Colts—Jags win over Buffalo, catches attention of Indy HC Frank Reich. No upset here.
Buccaneers-Washington—This game won’t be as close as last season’s playoff game.
Browns-Patriots—Cleveland is the cool pick, but I’m going with Belichick.
Falcons-Cowboys—Dallas has something to prove. And never trust Atlanta.
Panthers-Cardinals—Does Cam Newton play? I hope not—not because I care about Carolina—I don’t want to see Cam get hurt. He’s the NFL equivalent of a punch-drunk fighter.
Vikings-Chargers—The Norsemen could run all over the Bolts. But I have to believe a secondary torched by Cooper Rush is vulnerable to an offense with Justin Herbert.
Seahawks-Packers—Do you think the Packers defense is going to have a letdown? I don’t. If Zen Rodgers is at 60% then this isn’t a contest.
Eagles-Broncos—The only thing interesting about this game is that Denver is in last place with five wins. I think they win because Philly won’t put any real pressure on them.
Chiefs-Raiders—After Katrina everyone adopted the City of New Orleans—except for me. After what’s happened to the Raiders this season—I’ve adopted this team. I really want to see them beat KC. And the trouble for KC, riding a two-game winning streak against inferior quarterbacks, is they are not facing an inferior quarterback on Sunday night.
Rams-49ers—As long as Steve Mike-Mayer doesn’t boot a 54yard game winner at the buzzer, the Rams will be okay. This game just feels sloppy.
(Teams on Bye: Bengals, Giants, Bears, Texans.)
Joe T. is the author of “Tangent Dreams: A High School Football Novel” … “Temple City & The Company of The Ages” … “The Dead Bug Tales” … “The Dark Norm” & “FaithViews for Storm Riders”…all five available through Amazon.com.
Follow Joe on Twitter @joet13b
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