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Why the 49ers Will Beat the Rams on Monday Night Football

Of course, all this optimism depends on them actually showing up to play, something they failed to do last week.

This might sound bizarre, but the 49ers will beat the Rams tonight on Monday Night Football.

Here's why.

This week during practice, the Rams lost Pro Bowl wide receiver Robert Woods for the season. His absence will allow the 49ers to focus their attention on wide receiver Cooper Kupp, the No. 1 receiver in the NFL this season. He has 1,019 receiving yards and 10 touchdown catches, and leads the league in both statistics.

But the 49ers historically have defended Kupp well. The past two seasons, they've held Kupp to just 13 catches, 100 yards and 1 touchdown in four games, or a measley 25 yards per game. Kupp typically lines up in the slot, where the 49ers have K'Waun Williams and Jimmie Ward, both of whom match up extremely well with Kupp.

If the 49ers manage to shut down Kupp yet again, the Rams passing game will have to go through Tyler Higbee, Van Jefferson and Odell Beckham Jr., who has been on the Rams for just a few days. Does he know their system well enough to replace Woods and carry the offense in this game? Or will the Rams use him for a just a handful of plays on offense?

I'm guessing we won't see much Beckham.

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So the Rams passing attack could struggle. And their running game is nothing special, because their running back, Darrell Henderson, is just OK, while the 49ers running back, Elijah Mitchell, is terrific.

And if Arik Armstead can generate pressure up the middle just as the Titans did last week when they beat the Rams and sacked Matthew Stafford five times, the 49ers will have a good chance to win. Because Stafford isn't great when he has to move laterally. He will run into sacks.

Of course, all this 49ers optimism depends on them actually showing up to play, something they failed to do last week when the got blown out by Arizona's B-team.

Since that humiliating defeat, John Lynch called out Fred Warner for underperforming, and Steve Young and Jerry Rice called out the entire team for having no player leadership, i.e. no pride. This is a team that was seven minutes away from winning a Super Bowl fewer than two years ago. They should have some freaking pride.

If they have any left, they will treat this Monday night game like their Super Bowl. And this time, they won't give it away with seven minutes left.

Final score: 49ers 24, Rams 21.