49ers pass rush needs to wreck Rams offensive line in Week 4

Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers pressures Matthew Stafford #9 of the Los Angeles Rams (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers pressures Matthew Stafford #9 of the Los Angeles Rams (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

8:15 p.m. ET. 51. Monday, Oct. 3. 42. 49ers -1.5. 2-1. ESPN. 1-2

The 49ers defense will have to carry a big load on Monday Night Football against the Rams, and the Niners pass rush taking on a depleted O-line is a key factor.

The first three weeks of the San Francisco 49ers’ 2022 season have revealed a number of notable conclusions.

Among those is the reality the Niners offense hasn’t been particularly great, currently tied for fourth worst in scoring with just 47 points thus far. And while the injury-related transition at quarterback, from Trey Lance to Jimmy Garoppolo, is a primary factor, San Francisco’s offensive woes could easily continue when the team squares off against the 2-1 Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football in Week 4.

Another takeaway is the fact the 49ers defense has been superb, currently tied for the third-best scoring defense and allowing a league-best 3.9 yards per play.

Sure, the offensive competition the Niners have faced hasn’t exactly been otherworldly — the Chicago Bears, Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos — and LA’s offense should, in theory, provide the biggest test yet for coordinator DeMeco Ryans’ unit.

But, at least San Francisco has been getting top-end defensive production from all three levels against whatever competition it has faced thus far.

However, it’s the 49ers pass rush that needs to be a primary factor on Monday night, and this group might have some advantageous matchups to look forward to.

49ers getting to Rams QB Matthew Stafford will be vital in Week 4

Through three games this season, Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford has already been pressured 28.1 percent of the time. Granted, much of that stemmed from LA’s ugly Week 1 loss at the hands of the Buffalo Bills.

But, like the Niners, Buffalo is also boasting a quality pass rush this season.

Two key stats are of note here. For starters, Stafford has already taken nine sacks on the season, and his 8.1 sack percentage currently sits at the ninth highest among qualifying quarterbacks.

On top of that, Stafford has tossed five interceptions already this year against only four touchdowns, pointing to the importance of San Francisco’s pass-rushers needing to get home to force the rushed throw.

49ers pass rush must make easy work of Rams offensive line

One of the issues Los Angeles was likely to face this season was a depleted offensive line, particularly after losing stalwart left tackle Andrew Whitworth to retirement. And with starting center Brian Allen out with an injury, the Rams have been forced to turn to his backup, Coleman Shelton.

Shelton has yet to allow a sack on the year, though, even if the downgrade might be somewhat advantageous to the 49ers’ interior pass-rushers.

However, this isn’t the matchup that’ll be worth watching.

Pro Bowl EDGE Nick Bosa, who already has four sacks over three games, is going to frequently line up opposite left tackle Joseph Noteboom. And while Pro Football Focus recognized LA’s O-line as having shown notable improvement since its Week 1 debacle, moving this group up six spots in their Week 4 O-line power rankings, they still highlight the Bosa-versus-Noteboom matchup as one to watch:

"After being utterly wrecked on opening night, the Rams’ offensive line has been far more secure in the next two games.Matthew Stafford was under pressure on 25.9% of his dropbacks against the Cardinals this past week.Nick Bosa will provide Joseph Noteboom with his toughest test as a starter."

Bosa has four of the Niners’ eight sacks on the year, so San Francisco will look to keep his streak going.

Read More: 49ers vs. Rams: Enticing Week 4 prop bets for Monday night

However, nearly as important will be watching what fellow EDGE and former Rams defender Samson Ebukam does on the opposite side versus right tackle Rob Havenstein, whom PFF credits having allowed two sacks and seven pressures to date.

Ebukam, who started off slow his first year with the 49ers but finished strong in 2021, also has one sack and three quarterback hits.

Certainly the lesser of the two pass-rushers opposite Bosa, Ebukam’s presence will nevertheless be vital if Los Angeles shifts its pass-blocking protection in Bosa’s direction.

The Niners and Rams square off on Monday Night Football at 8:15 p.m. ET on Oct. 3.

Next. 49ers vs. Rams: 5 vital matchups to watch on Monday night. dark