5 ways 49ers make life miserable for Rams QB Matthew Stafford

Matthew Stafford #9 of the Los Angeles Rams (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Matthew Stafford #9 of the Los Angeles Rams (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9)Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 3: 49ers must force Matthew Stafford into 3rd-and-long a lot

It’s the bane of almost every quarterback out there: facing a 3rd-and-long situation where an opposing team’s pass rush can pin its ears back in an attempt to get to the signal-caller.

Matthew Stafford isn’t exactly bad in these kinds of situations. On downs of 3rd-and-7 to 3rd-and-9, he owns a 71.4 completion percentage this season with a notable passer rating of 133.4, while downs of 3rd-and-10 or more see those numbers drop to 63.4 and 81.9, respectively.

Third-down attempts of more than 10 yards are any defense’s dream, of course, but there are going to be more of the 7- to 9-yard variety. And while Stafford’s traditional numbers (completion percentage and passer rating) are both good, it’s important to note 11 of his 21 pass attempts in these situations have gone for first downs.

A slightly better-than 50-percent conversion rate on 3rd-and-long situations here isn’t necessarily ideal, but it does afford the 49ers to get some much-needed defensive stops.

Of note, the Niners have their third-down defense this season allowing a success rate of 39.8 percent.

What’s a good way to help capitalize on that situation? Well, it’s something San Francisco might not actually be able to do itself.