No. 3: Hold Rams Runner Todd Gurley to Less than 100 All-Purpose Yards
Gosh, another one of those things easier said than done.
Rams running back Todd Gurley is already playing like an MVP candidate this season. He has 623 rush yards and nine touchdowns on the ground, averaging 4.8 yards per carry, and has added 247 yards and two touchdowns through the air. He’s the linchpin of Los Angeles’ offense, for sure. And few teams, if any, have found any sort of means to contain him with any sort of regularity.
If 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh is smart, though, he’ll take the New England Patriots’ approach here — take away an opponent’s top offensive weapon.
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It’s pretty easy to tell who that is in this case.
San Francisco needs to sell out to stop Gurley. If this means loading the box with as many as eight defenders, fine. If this means putting an already questionable Niners secondary at risk of giving up big plays to Rams wide receivers like Robert Woods or Brandin Cooks, fine. Just don’t let Gurley be the all-important X-factor.
The 49ers are averaging 4.0 rush yards against on the season, which is 10th best on the year. It’s not bad, and the hope is a fully healthy crop of Niners linebackers are able to contain Gurley to minimal gains on the ground and limit what he can do in the passing game.
Easy? Not at all. Possible? Perhaps.
Gurley is the kind of player who could be contained on 95 percent of plays but could still spring off a back-breaking run or catch out of the backfield that goes the distance. He’s that kind of home-run threat.
If San Francisco is on its toes guarding against this, maybe the team has a chance to thwart L.A.’s more-than-potent offense Sunday.
The 49ers and Rams kick off on Oct. 21 at 4:25 p.m. ET from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
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