SF 49ers vs. LA Rams: Cooper Kupp will be a problem for Niners defense

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (18) Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (18) Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports /

The SF 49ers are still likely to be without nickel back K’Waun Williams, meaning LA Rams wideout Cooper Kupp is a major threat.

If the SF 49ers want to keep their diminishing playoff hopes alive, they’ll have to ensure they go 2-0 for their season series against the LA Rams, who host the Niners in a critical Week 12 NFC West matchup at SoFI Stadium.

And if San Francisco wants to ensure that happens, it’ll have to do the same kind of work it did against the Rams’ leading wide receiver, Cooper Kupp.

Kupp was a nonfactor when these two teams met in Week 6 earlier this season, targeted nine times but hauling in just three passes for a lowly 11 yards in the SF 49ers’ 24-16 victory. Kupp epitomized just how ineffective Los Angeles’ offensive efforts were over the course of the game, although one shouldn’t automatically assume that’ll be the case once more in Week 12.

For starters, Kupp is coming off a hot performance in Week 11 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where he hauled in 11 passes for 145 yards on Monday Night Football. The Rams struggled to move the ball during that game, meaning Kupp’s efforts to help out his quarterback, Jared Goff, didn’t just stem from getting open because of play-action passes.

No, Kupp got his numbers up on the season thanks to moves like these:

True, the SF 49ers still boast one of the league’s best pass defenses. Despite all their woes this season, the Niners still rank No. 4 overall against the pass with just 2,089 pass yards allowed.

But Kupp versus San Francisco in Week 12 is under an entirely different context.

SF 49ers wish K’Waun Williams was available vs. LA Rams

While the SF 49ers have dealt with a slew of critical injuries this season, one of the under-the-radar ones is that to nickel cornerback K’Waun Williams.

Williams has missed four games this season, and his last action in Week 9 against the Green Bay Packers saw just four snaps before he went on injured reserve with a high-ankle sprain.

He was also flagged for a PED violation for two games, although it didn’t seem likely he’d be available anyway.

In his stead, the Niners are likely to field reserve nickel back Jamar Taylor, who actually started in this role the last time they hosted the Rams earlier this season. Yes, Taylor performed well enough during that game and was a key reason why Kupp’s numbers were so low. Taylor managed three tackles and one pass defended during that game.

But looking at the bigger picture, Pro Football Focus still gives Taylor a lowly 58.6 overall grade on the season, and one would be hard-pressed to think Taylor’s notable performance previously against the Rams will carry over into Week 12.

Especially with Kupp getting back to a hot streak.

If there is a bonus, Kupp has averaged only 19.0 yards per game in four contests against San Francisco. Yet with him hitting his stride for Goff and LA’s offense, it’s going to be an awfully important challenge for the SF 49ers defense to contain him.

49ers need these 3 injured players back after their Week 11 bye. dark. Next

Unless Taylor has one more of those quality games under his sleeve.