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Los Angeles Rams versus San Francisco 49ers: Matchups to watch revisited

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Let’s revisit the matchups to watch and see how they fared

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

With week 17 coming to a conclusion, the Los Angeles Rams finish the 2018 season with a 13-3 record after beating their divisional rival San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. With the win, the Rams locked up the second seed in the NFC ensuring a playoff bye week prior to playing the remaining highest-seeded team.

Let’s revisit the matchups to watch:

DT Aaron Donald vs QB Nick Mullens

Last week’s matchup to watch:

The all-world defensive tackle is now three sacks away from tying Michael Strahan’s record of 22.5-sacks in one season. The last time Donald faced the 49ers, he sacked QB C.J. Beathard four times. He looked downright unstoppable. The 49ers should look to donate more attention towards #99, though he’s shown an ability to remain un-guardable regardless. If Donald can put together a downright dominant performance of 3.5-sacks or better, he’ll officially set another record in his legendary 2018 campaign. The 49ers are currently allowing three sacks per game.

Aaron Donald was his usual dominant self on Sunday, even though the stat sheet only shows four tackles, one sack, and one tackle-for-loss. Donald nearly had another two or three sacks on the day, though Nick Mullens was quick to pull the trigger and throw errant passes, one of which went for an interception. Donald was a load to handle, and proved that his dominance continues to go further than a stat sheet could ever record.

RB C.J. Anderson vs 49ers’ front-7

Last week’s matchup to watch:

Anderson played his first game as a Ram with three days of practice under his belt, receiving 20 carries for 167 rushing yards and a touchdown. Anderson looked like a bowling ball breaking tackles in the second level and creating more yardage than he was given. Anderson will likely once again be relied upon to take the lions share of the carries. He should also be better equipped to handle the workload.

C.J. Anderson notched himself another start, proving worthy of remaining on the roster moving forward. Anderson received 23 carries, rushing for 132 yards and one touchdown. A lot of his yards are gained prior to contact, but it’s evident how much power Anderson runs with as he routinely grinds out extra yards after contact. Anderson’s fantastic performances allowed Todd Gurley to nurse his knee back to health (hopefully).

Rams’ CB’s vs WR Kendrick Bourne

Last week’s matchup to watch:

With WR’s Dante Pettis and Marquise Goodwin both ruled out with injury, the next most dangerous wide receiver becomes Kendrick Bourne. Bourne had four receptions for 73 yards last week. Bourne actually didn’t register any stats the first game versus the Rams, though the 49ers were much more healthy at receiver in that contest. CB’s Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib have played better recently, with the Rams’ defense improving on all levels (even if marginally).

Kendrick Bourne did prove to be the 49ers’ most dangerous wide receiver with five receptions for 59 yards and a touchdown. They were some of the quietest stats accumulated, because the Rams were in firm control of the game from start-to-end.

SS John Johnson III vs TE George Kittle

Last week’s matchup to watch:

George Kittle is by far and away the 49ers’ most dangerous weapon as he’s closing in on breaking records at the tight end position. Kittle has 1,228 yards this season, with 98 of those coming against the Rams in week seven. Kittle also scored a touchdown in that contest. Now, luckily the Rams have a great defender in JJ3 who has shown an ability to over tight ends effectively. Majority of the damage that Kittle had in the first contest came against the ILB duo of Mark Barron and Cory Littleton.

John Johnson III didn’t actually get to cover George Kittle a ton, but was successful when he did. Just like they did a few weeks prior against TE Zach Ertz, the Rams ran bracket coverage on Kittle in the redzone, effectively keeping him out of paydirt until garbage time. Kittle finished the game with nine receptions for 149 yards and a touchdown, though the long catch-and-run TD came in garbage time. Regardless, Kittle set a record for the most receiving yards by a tight end in a season with 1,377 yards.

LG Rodger Saffold vs DT DeForest Buckner

Last week’s matchup to watch:

Rodger Saffold is one of the best offensive guards in the league, though he’ll have his hands full this Sunday with DeForest Buckner. Buckner has 12 sacks on the season, proving to be one of the best interior defensive lineman in the league. The offensive line needs to have a clean game and build some momentum moving forward towards the playoffs.

Outside of one batted pass at the line-of-scrimmage, Buckner was relatively invisible. The offensive line did a solid job keeping QB Jared Goff upright and opening holes for the running game (mainly C.J. Anderson).