Some advice for the Rams: take the 49ers for granted at your own risk.
By a number of metrics, the 49ers are a better team right now. Marginally, in some cases, but as you can see they top the Rams in yards and points per game, as well as other offensive categories. Same thing on defense too.
An area of concern for the Rams heading into this game has to be the stopping the run. We've dogged the defensive line lately, especially after getting manhandled by the Jets, for their run defense. According to DVOA, the Rams have the second worst rush defense in the league, 23.6%, and they're allowing an average of 161 rushing yards per game. The 49ers, in spite of their myriad problems, still boast a solid rushing offense with a 7.3% DVOA that ranks 8th best. They average just 106 yards per game though. Starting RB Frank Gore has solid numbers on the season, but his lack of 100 yards games hides the yeoman work the SF o-line has done in blocking for the back.
Pass blocking, however, has been a different story for the 49ers. They've allowed 34 sacks on the season, a sack rate of 10.1%, They're tied with the Lions for most sacks allowed. The Rams, no aces at pass blocking themselves, have allowed 28 sacks. SF's poor pass protection has helped the team find its way to the 31st worst pass offense, per DVOA, in the league. This is where the Rams defensive line has a potentially favorable matchup. In spite of some not so impressive work against the Jets, the Rams still have 18 sacks and a sack rate of 6.6%, 12th in the league.
The emerging Chris Long and Leonard Little must have a productive day pressuring the SF QB and forcing them to make bad plays...similar to what we saw them do against the Cowboys and even the Patriots when they sacked Matt Cassel three times. Last week, the middle of the Rams line got manhandled by the Jets front seven, keeping the DEs from doing much to disrupt the passing game. That has to change this week. I'd think Carriker et al would be ready to refute some of their recent critics or at least not want to get out muscled again.
As for the run defense, the middle of the line is key. The success of the 49ers run game stems from a top rated attack up the middle, where they average more than 5 adjusted line yards per play. For the Rams, that means improved play from the linebackers as well. If Carriker and Ryan can prevent blockers from beating by them and taking the Rams LBs out of the play, they should be able to limit the damage.
Better play from the line would make us all feel a lot better.