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NFL 2017 Week 3: Los Angeles Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers preview and prediction

San Francisco looks for their first win of the season, as they host division-rival LA in a Thursday night NFC West matchup


Both of these teams are looking to bounce back in a short week after suffering losses in Week 2.

If there are any moral victories in a loss, San Francisco could take one back home with them after their performance this past Sunday against Seattle. The 49ers were defeated 12-9, but played the Seahawks tough on the road. 

It was a defensive struggle, as both teams failed to generate much offense. The 49ers took the lead, 9-6, for the first time all day after a Robbie Gould FG in the fourth quarter. But the Seahawks didn’t take long to respond, as Russell Wilson took them on an 82-yard drive capped by a TD pass to Paul Richardson with 7:06 left in the game. 

That would end up being the score that sealed the game, as the 49ers failed put anything together to threaten the lead again. They won’t have much time to dwell on the loss since they must quickly shift their focus to the divisional showdown Thursday. 

The LA Rams played their second consecutive home game in as many weeks, this time against the Redskins. Unfortunately, this game didn’t go as well as the first week when they dismantled the Colts.

The Redskins got off to a quick start, jumping out to a 13-0 lead in the 2nd quarter, but the Rams responded with a Todd Gurley TD and Greg Zuerlein FG to bring the score to 13-10. In the 3rd quarter, Gurley made one of the plays of the week – hurdling a defender as he took a pass from Jared Goff 18 yards for a TD. 

The Rams eventually tied the game up in the 4th, making it 20-20, but Redskins QB Kirk Cousins responded with a TD pass to WR Ryan Grant to take a 27-20 lead. The stage was then set for Goff to make a name for himself generating a game-tying comeback drive… Instead, he threw a costly INT that ended up securing the Redskins victory. 

They, much like the 49ers, won’t have much time to concern themselves with this loss as they pick up and go on the road for the first time of the year on a short week. 

Kyle Shanahan

Shanahan was brought to San Francisco to provide offensive expertise to a team who had been struggling ever since Jim Harbaugh departed as the head coach. It has not been a great start through the first two weeks as the 49ers have yet to reach the end zone. They rank 31st in scoring offense and in order to win any games they must find a way to put more points on the board. It will be up the Kyle Shanahan to come up with an effective gameplan to attack a stingy Rams defense. 

Protecting Goff

After Week 1, many believed that Sean McVay had turned Jared Goff into a perennial All-Pro. They kept him clean against the Colts and he had ample time to find the open receivers. Last week the Redskins found a way to apply some pressure and Goff didn’t look quite as comfortable, as their front sacked Goff two times. The 49ers have a strong, youthful defensive front who will be trying to bring down the young QB as many times as they can on Thursday. 

Special teams

In a game where it’s expected to be low scoring, the special teams units on both sides will play an important role in the outcome. Field position will be extremely important and the kickers must convert on any opportunities they get. The team who has a better special teams performance could very well find themselves as the winner after the game.

San Francisco 49ers defensive line vs Los Angeles Rams offensive line

The 49ers have a very formidable front seven. Their defensive line could end up being one of the best units in the entire NFL by the season’s end. 

DT DeForest Buckner had an impressive performance this past Sunday against a reeling Seattle offensive line. Buckner was responsible for nine of 21 QB pressures that the 49ers got against Seattle’s offense. 

DEs Arik Armstead, Tank Carradine, and Aaron Lynch all recorded sacks last week, as they performed at a high level as well. They will be hungry to get after Jared Goff and it will be up to the Rams O-line to protect their young QB. 

The Rams have done a solid job through the first two weeks protecting Goff, giving up only three sacks and nine QB hits. The battle between these units could be very influential in the outcome of this game. 

Fantasy football tip – San Francisco RB Carlos Hyde

The lone bright spot for the 49ers offense thus far has been Carlos Hyde. Hyde is the furth leading rusher in the NFL through the first two weeks of the season, averaging an impressive 7.0 yards per carry. He has also shown he can be a viable receiving threat out of the backfield. The Rams gave up 229 yards (5.9 yards per rush) on the ground last week to a Redskins rushing attack that many would classify as below average. Look for Carlos Hyde to be the focal point of the 49er offensive attack and I believe he will find the end zone this week.

Betting tip – San Francisco (+2.5)

This NFC West battle seems more like a pick ’em to me. The fact that San Francisco is getting points at home makes them the better bet in this game. Playing at home is a big advantage for any team in the NFL, especially when you’re hosting an opponent of similar caliber.

Even though these rosters have undergone some reformation, the Rams lost both matchups last season and are 5-11 against the spread in their last 16 road games against the 49ers. This will be the Rams first game on the road this year, and in a low-scoring affair I like San Francisco getting 2.5. Both of these teams are 1-1 against the spread through the first two weeks of the season. 

Prediction: San Francisco 49ers 20 – 14 Los Angeles Rams

The 49ers and the Rams have undergone head coaching changes and are seemingly building for the future. Both Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay are offensive-minded coaches, but I believe the defenses will play a big role in this matchup. These units will both be focused on stopping the run, so it will come down to which QB doesn’t make mistakes. 

I believe the 49ers defense will find a way to pressure Jared Goff, making him uncomfortable and forcing him into some turnovers. Goff doesn’t seem to deal with pressure very well so far in his young career, hence why I think the 49ers can force him into some big mistakes. 

Brian Hoyer will limit his costly mistakes and Kyle Shanahan will help the 49ers offense generate some life to put up enough points on the board. The 49ers most likely will be down two starters on defense – LB Reuben Foster and S Eric Reid- but DB Jimmie Ward is expected to be back in the lineup. Look for them to lean on the run game with Carlos Hyde, while the defense holds serve at home in their first victory of the season.

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Chris Cook

Graduate of Hood College (BA '15 and M.B.A '17)

Ex-college hooper

NFL contributor for RealSport101

NFL 2017 Week 3: Los Angeles Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers preview and prediction

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