No. 3: How to Slow Down the Rams’ Aaron Donald?
San Francisco isn’t the only team dealing with notable injuries. Los Angeles enters the contest without its top sack specialist, EDGE Clay Matthews, who’ll miss some time with a broken jaw, suffered last week.
Matthews has six sacks on the year, and the 49ers won’t miss his presence on the field. But there’s still another defensive worry, perennial All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
True, Donald has just one sack on the year. But his pocket-wrecking efforts have already opened up chances for Matthews. To no one’s surprise, Pro Football Focus currently ranks Donald the No. 2 overall interior defender with an elite-level 90.7 overall grade.
With Matthews out, the Rams will expect Donald to shoulder a lot of the pass-rushing load, hopefully trying to break the interior of San Francisco’s offensive line and get to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who has taken only four sacks this year.
Fortunately, the 49ers O-line has done an excellent job in pass protection this year, currently ranked No. 2 overall in this regard by Football Outsiders.
Not having Juszczyk available, though, hurts the chances. Perhaps this is where Kyle Shanahan goes with Levine Toilolo as an interior blocker, if needed.
Either way, game planning against Donald would be a wise move for the Niners in Week 6.