LA Rams vs. SF 49ers: 5 players to watch most on Sunday night

SF 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne (84) Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
SF 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne (84) Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports /
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SF 49ers Jimmy Garoppolo
SF 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 3: SF 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo

As if this writing, it isn’t even a certain quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo starts Sunday night against the Rams.

But if he does, it’s imperative he plays better than he did this past week against the Dolphins.

There are many layers to what is potentially going on with Garoppolo so far in 2020. He didn’t have a great game in the Week 1 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, but was looking better during the first half against the Jets before leaving at halftime with a high-ankle sprain.

He missed the Giants and Eagles games with the injury and then returned to play likely his worst game as a pro during the first half of Sunday’s matchup before being benched for backup C.J. Beathard.

The injury looked to still be bothering him last week, as he didn’t seem to be able to step into his throws as much as he wanted and his sometimes questionable footwork was in shambles from the first drive of the game.

And while the loss wasn’t all his fault, some of the blame rests solely on his shoulders.

None of this was made easier by the fact that the offensive line has struggled to pass protect all season long, no matter who is playing quarterback for the SF 49ers.

Garoppolo was sacked three times and was under duress a great deal, to be sure, but looking back at his snaps, there’s also a sense that he didn’t trust his line to block and so bailed out of clean pockets on a few occasions.

The good news is that much may not be asked of Garoppolo against the Rams, who are Football Outsiders’ third-highest rated pass defense at minus-11.3 percent, which means SF 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan will likely want to dial up the run game as often as possible.

But that doesn’t mean that Garoppolo won’t need to improve upon his showing last week in order for the 49ers to remain in the game. Otherwise, if he continues to make mistakes, he may find himself ending this week’s game in the same place he finished last week’s matchup.