Kickoff Sunday, Jan 9th 4:25pm Eastern

49ers (
21.5) at

Rams (
25)

Over/Under 46.5

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Notes

Key Matchups
49ers Run D
4th DVOA/7th Yards allowed per carry
Rams Run O
14th DVOA/25th Yards per carry
49ers Pass D
3rd DVOA/6th Yards allowed per pass
Rams Pass O
16th DVOA/5th Yards per pass
Rams Run D
4th DVOA/6th Yards allowed per carry
49ers Run O
20th DVOA/7th Yards per carry
Rams Pass D
22nd DVOA/22nd Yards allowed per pass
49ers Pass O
19th DVOA/12th Yards per pass

Game Overview ::

By mjohnson86 >>
  • The nature of the San Francisco offense hinges significantly on the health and availability of Jimmy Garoppolo. 
  • These teams played earlier this season, with San Francisco leading wire-to-wire in a 31-10 victory.
  • These teams have very different offensive approaches in terms of pace and play calling, but both are very effective.
  • Both teams need a win to maximize their playoff situations, making this close to an actual playoff game.

How san francisco Will Try To Win ::

The big question for the 49ers this week surrounds the health of Jimmy Garoppolo, who has a torn tendon in his right thumb (his throwing hand). This, understandably, makes playing quarterback in the NFL very difficult. Throwing the ball becomes harder, but there is also the dynamic of taking snaps, ball handling on handoffs and fakes, and taking hits. Jimmy has been throwing in practice this week and reportedly looks pretty good, but there is a difference between a controlled environment and a live game when that thumb will take some hits early and often. If Garoppolo is not able to play, Trey Lance will start again. Lance has struggled twice this season but looked better in the second half last week against the Texans as he led the 49ers to a victory.

When evaluating San Francisco, the reality is that they will either be playing with a raw, athletic quarterback who has been inconsistent and underwhelming in his first two starts, or they will have a quarterback who was already a game manager that they will now have to take extra care to protect and preserve. Either scenario calls for a run-heavy game script, as the 49ers will try to slow the game the way their 28th ranked situation-neutral pace has done to opponents all season. In the first meeting of these teams, the 49ers ran the ball 44 times compared to only 19 pass attempts. While that tells one story, the reality is they were not very effective (averaging only 3.2 yards per carry on 37 running back attempts) and were only able to maintain that high run rate because of the big lead they built due to the Rams offensive struggles (which we will get to shortly). The Rams defense is no joke, ranking top-5 against both the run and the pass, and Aaron Donald can single-handedly ruin a game for an offense. The 49ers will definitely lean into their running game and perhaps would be most effective doing so with Lance under center to act as another threat to the defense with his legs. When the 49ers do throw the ball, they will likely look to find ways to get the ball in the hands of their elite playmakers (Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, and Brandon Aiyuk), who can change a game in a blink with their ability to break tackles and outrun defenders. The method by which the 49ers attack through the air will change dramatically depending on who is under center, as Jimmy throws mostly underneath and over the middle of the field while Lance is able to make more throws to the perimeter and down the field.

How los angeles Will Try To Win ::

Los Angeles is a top-5 team in terms of both pass rate and pace of play. They have a division title and multiple home playoff games riding on this game, so I would expect them to lean into “what got them here” by continuing to play to their strengths. This is especially true against a 49ers team whose secondary has been ravaged by injuries and COVID recently. Four of San Francisco’s top five cornerbacks are currently on the COVID list, placed there on either Tuesday or Wednesday of this week. The only one left from those top five who are practicing this week is 34-year-old Josh Norman, who is PFF’s 82nd graded cornerback out of 87 players who have played at least 50% of the snaps this season. The 49ers also have one of their starting safeties on the COVID list and another starting safety battling a shoulder injury. This is not good news against a highly efficient Rams passing offense.

All season, the 49ers have been easier to throw the ball on than it has been to run against them. The 49ers also have the 2nd best run defense DVOA in the league due to a great front seven, and with the current state of the secondary, that difference should only grow in terms of “path of least resistance.” The Rams expect Cam Akers back just six months removed from tearing his Achilles, but he should only mix in for 10-15 snaps in his first game back. The 49ers will likely get several of their defensive backs off the COVID list prior to Sunday, but even in that case, they will not have practiced all week. We have seen several times in the past few weeks that players returning from the COVID list often struggle, especially without practice time to get their conditioning back. The sharp thing for the Rams to do would be to take an extremely pass-heavy attack and play at a blistering pace, as playing defensive back in the NFL is not for the faint of heart, and high pass volume and pace would wear those players down very quickly.

Likeliest Game Flow :: 

The first time these teams played, Matthew Stafford had a couple of early turnovers, and the 49ers took an early lead that allowed them to control the pace of the game and make Los Angeles one-dimensional. That was a Monday night game in San Francisco when the Rams offense was dealing with a lot of unexpected changes – they had just lost Robert Woods to a torn ACL that week in practice, and Odell Beckham Jr. was signed three days before the game. The Rams were also heading into their bye week and playing on the road. This week, the Rams enter the game on a five-game winning streak, are at home, and have a division title on the line.

The likeliest game flow here is a close game that ultimately the Rams are slightly more likely to control. Their passing game should be more effective than it was the first time these teams met, and with so much riding on the game and in a home environment, I would expect that the Rams won’t hand the 49ers early control again. The 49ers personnel issues in the secondary continue to be an issue, and they will likely struggle to hold the Rams down because of this, while the 49ers offense has a lot of questions at the most important position right now, making it difficult to expect a high level of offensive output from them. If the Rams can take control, I would expect much more pace and scoring from this game than we saw in the first meeting, which combined for 41 total points and 117 total plays (well below league average), especially with so much on the line.

scenarios:
  • Los Angeles must win to secure a division title and the 2-seed.
  • San Francisco must win to secure a playoff spot.
  • If San Francisco loses, they would still have a chance to get in the playoffs if New Orleans were to lose.
  • The only scenario for either team’s motivations to change mid-game would be if Atlanta were to jump out and dominate the Saints, making the game meaningless for San Francisco. This is an unlikely outcome in that game, meaning we should expect both teams to give everything they have.

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DFS+ Interpretation ::

By Alex88 >>

OVERVIEW

  • Tied for the third highest total of the week
  • SF’s implied total of 20 is the 11th lowest
  • LAR’s implied total of 24.5 is the eighth highest
  • SF has scored 23+ pts in five of their last six games
  • Their opponent scores in those games: 26 // 30 // 23 // 13 // 20 // 7
  • LAR has won five games in a row, scoring 20+ pts in each game: 37 // 30 // 20 // 30 // 20
  • They’ve held each opponent to fewer than 24 pts: 7 // 23 // 10 // 23 // 19
  • On the season, LAR ranks ninth in ppg (27.2) and 15th in ppg allowed (21.6)
  • SF ranks 13th in ppg (25) and 14th in ppg allowed (21.3)
  • SF leads the league in offensive red zone TD% (68%)
  • LAR’s defense ranks eighth in red zone TD% allowed (51.9%)
  • With a win, LAR will secure the NFC West division title (they’ve already earned a playoff berth)
  • SF currently hold the six seed out of the NFC
  • If they win, they guarantee their spot in the playoffs
  • They can also get in with a NO loss
  • SF averages just 61.2 offensive plays per game (sixth fewest)
  • LAR averages 62.1 (11th fewest)
  • Opponents of SF average just 60.5 offensive plays per game (fifth fewest)
  • Opponents of LAR average 65.7 offensive plays per game (fifth most)

Jimmy Garoppolo

  • Ranks 17th in PFF passing grade
  • On Wednesday, HC Kyle Shanahan reiterated that Jimmy G is the starter if he’s healthy enough to play
  • He got in a limited practice that same day
  • Scored 4x his Week 18 DK salary ($5,500) twice in 14 games
  • Stat lines: 28/40:326:2:1 vs. ARI // 17/28:322 & 2 rushing TDs @ CHI
  • LAR ranks seventh in DK ppg allowed to QBs (17.5)
  • Notable opposing QB scores: Kyler Murray 22.42 // Murray 24.27 // Davis Mills 24.4 // Aaron Rodgers 29.28 // Tom Brady 31.68

SF Passing Attack

  • Leads the league in 21 personnel usage (36%, league average is 7%)
  • Snap share: George Kittle 91.7% // Brandon Aiyuk 82.4% // Deebo Samuel 76.3% // Jauan Jennings 28.7% // Trent Sherfield 25%
  • Target share: Samuel 23.9% // Kittle 18.1% // Aiyuk 16% // Jennings 6.4% // Sherfield 4%
  • Among qualified WRs, Samuel ranks eighth in target share, 23rd in air yard market share, and 17th in WOPR (per Koalaty Stats)
  • His 3.4 rush attempts per game lead the position (second best is 1.3)
  • His 21.6 DK ppg ranks third
  • 7.7 targets per game ranks 22nd
  • Week 18 DK salary is $8,500
  • Scored 30+ DK pts four times in 15 games: 30.3 vs. LAR in Week 10 // 31.1 @ TEN in Week 16 // 35.9 @ DET in Week 1 // 38.7 vs. SEA in Week 4
  • Aiyuk’s DK salary in Week 18 is $5,600
  • He’s scored 15+ DK pts three times in 15 games: 18.6 @ CIN in Week 14 // 19.7 vs. ARI in Week 9 // 21.5 @ JAX in Week 11
  • Jennings and Sherfield have yet to score 12 DK pts
  • LAR ranks 15th in DK ppg allowed to WRs (35.5)
  • Notable opposing WR scores: AJ Green 20.2 // Brandin Cooks 20.3 // Kalif Raymond 20.6 // Davante Adams 21.4 // Mike Evans 21.6 // Justin Jefferson 22.6 // Michael Pittman 23.3 // DK Metcalf 26.8 // Deebo Samuel 30.8
  • Among qualified TEs, Kittle ranks second in target share, third in air yard market share, and second in WOPR
  • His 15.5 DK ppg ranks third
  • Kittle has five games of fewer than five targets
  • He also has five games of eight or more targets
  • Kittle’s Week 18 DK salary is $6,700
  • He’s scored 20+ DK pts three times in 13 games: 24.1 vs. ARI in Week 9 // 37.1 @ CIN in Week 14 // 42.6 @ SEA in Week 13
  • He had eight or more targets in all three games
  • LAR ranks 14th in DK ppg allowed to TEs (12.5)
  • Notable opposing TE scores: Geoff Swaim 12.9 // Jack Doyle 13.4 // Mark Andrews 14.9 // George Kittle 16 // Maxx Williams 17.6

Elijah Mitchell

  • Mitchell has dominated RB opportunities in every game he’s played
  • He averages 40 snaps per game, two targets (JaMycal Hasty averages 2.6), and 20.5 touches (second best, Jeff Wilson, averages 10.8)
  • Among qualified RBs, he ranks sixth in rush share, 20th in goal line share, 22nd in target share, 23rd in WOPR, and 19th in RBOPR
  • His 17.1 DK ppg ranks 10th
  • His $6,000 Week 18 DK salary is tied for a career high
  • He’s scored 4x that salary twice in 10 games: 24 vs. HOU in Week 16 // 30.8 vs. MIN in Week 12

Matthew Stafford

  • Ranks 11th in PFF passing grade
  • 352 yards short of his second 5,000 yard season
  • He would be the second QB in history to have multiple 5,000 yard seasons, and the only one to do it for two different teams (Drew Brees achieved 5,000 yards five times at NO)
  • Among qualified QBs, Stafford ranks fourth in EPA per attempt and fifth in ADoT
  • His 21.9 DK ppg ranks ninth
  • Scored 4x his Week 18 DK salary ($6,700) five times in 16 games: 26.98 @ GB in Week 12 // 27.2 @ HOU in Week 8 // 27.34 vs. CHI in Week 1 // 30.16 vs. DET in Week 7 // 32.52 vs. TB in Week 3
  • SF ranks 11th in DK ppg allowed to QBs (18.5)
  • Notable opposing QB scores: Joe Burrow 25.22 // Justin Fields 29.3 // Jared Goff 32.92

LAR Passing Attack

  • Leads the league in 11 personnel usage (84%, average is 60%)
  • Snap share: Cooper Kupp 93.8% // Van Jefferson 81.1% // Tyler Higbee 80.3% // OBJ 60%
  • Target share: Kupp 32% // Jefferson 15% // OBJ 13.4% // Higbee 13.4%
  • Among qualified WRs, Kupp ranks first in target share, 15th in air yard market share, and first in WOPR
  • His 27.7 DK ppg ranks first
  • To break single season records, Kupp needs 12 receptions and 136 receiving yards
  • Needs 171 receiving yards for the first ever 2,000 yard season
  • His $9,700 Week 18 DK salary is a career high
  • He has an incredible six games of 30+ DK pts this year, four more of 25+, and just three games of fewer than 20 pts (floor of 11.4)
  • Jefferson has scored 20+ DK pts just once: 21 vs. ARI in Week 4
  • OBJ has yet to score 20+ DK pts as a Ram
  • SF ranks 24th in DK ppg allowed to WRs (36.8)
  • Notable opposing WR scores: DeAndre Hopkins 20.7 // Russell Gage 23.1 // Adam Thielen 23.2 // Michael Pittman 23.5 // Ja’Marr Chase 25.3 // Cooper Kupp 26.2 // Davante Adams 34.2 // AJ Brown 34.5
  • Among qualified TEs, Higbee ranks 15th in target share, 23rd in air yard market share, and 17th in WOPR
  • He’s scored 3x his Week 18 DK salary ($4,000) twice in 14 games: 12.9 @ BAL in Week 17 // 15 vs. TB in Week 3
  • SF ranks fifth in DK ppg allowed to TEs (8.5)
  • Notable opposing TE scores: Tyler Higbee 11 // Mo Alie-Cox 11.5 // Kyle Pitts 11.7 // Jesse James 12.8 // TJ Hockenson 25.7

Sony Michel

  • Since taking over for Darrell Henderson in Week 13, Michel ranks first in rush share, first in goal line share, 18th in target share, 22nd in WOPR, and third in RBOPR (among all qualified RBs)
  • His 17.7 DK ppg ranks 11th during that time
  • Michel’s $6,000 Week 18 DK salary is a season high
  • He’s scored 20+ DK pts twice this season, both times while relieving Henderson: 23.5 @ MIN in Week 16 // 24.9 vs. JAX in Week 13
  • SF ranks 14th in DK ppg allowed to RBs (22.6)
  • Four opposing RBs have scored 20+ DK pts vs. SF: Jonathan Taylor 22 // D’Andre Swift 24.4 // Jamaal Williams 25 // James Conner 40.3