No. 1: LB NaVorro Bowman vs. RB Todd Gurley
You knew Rams running back Todd Gurley was going to be in the picture, right?
Los Angeles’ No. 1 tailback averaged 4.8 yards per carry his rookie season, and he’ll be featured in a similar situation as 49ers back Carlos Hyde. Both teams have passing-attack questions, so the running game is going to be crucial.
One of the key cogs to stopping the Rams rushing attack will be linebacker NaVorro Bowman.
Bowman led the NFL last season with 116 tackles. But his surgically repaired knee made him a liability in coverage a year ago.
The added year should be a bonus. And there wasn’t much of a question surrounding Bowman’s run-stopping abilities. At least according to Matt Claassen of Pro Football Focus.
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San Francisco’s All-Pro linebacker will need some help though. Especially up the middle.
One of the primary means opposing teams will try to offset head coach Chip Kelly’s offense will be to run right at San Francisco’s defense in sub packages. How effective will the Niners defensive front be at limiting Gurley at the point of attack?
And will Bowman’s run-converging skills be able to match the standout tailback’s abilities?
If so, the 49ers will be in excellent shape to come away with a win.