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Will the 49ers Save Their Season by Fleecing the Rams?

What I thought would be an easy game at Levi's on Monday Night Football is now looking to be fraught with peril.

During the offseason, I talked lots of trash to lots of Rams fans. I said the 49ers would sweep them for the fourth season in a row and bounce them from the playoffs, if they even made it that far. "Why not?" I thought. They had lost some very key players:

Future Hall of Fame left tackle Andrew Whitworth retired. Safety Eric Weddle retired.  Wide receiver Robert Woods got traded to the Titans. Right guard Austin Corbett was a cap casualty. Running back Sony Michel was a cap casualty. Cornerback Darious Williams was a cap casualty. Defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day was a cap casualty. All-world punter Johnny Hecker was a cap casualty. Odell Beckham Jr. was a cap casualty. And Von freaking Miller, edge-rusher extraordinaire, chose the Bills.  The Rams did add Alan Robinson from the Bears and future Hall of Fame inside linebacker Bobby Wagner from the Seahawks, but overall they got much worse this offseason and that was before Van Jefferson went on Injured Reserve, keeping him out until at least Week 6. Plus center Brian Allen went out after a supposedly minor 2-4 week knee surgery, but Van was supposed to be back by Week 1, from his "minor" knee surgery.  

On the other hand, the good guys had a great offseason.  

On defense, the signing of Charvarius "Mooney" Ward from the Chiefs gave us the man cover cornerback that we haven't had before, or since Jason Verrett in 2020, to line up across from Emmanuel Moseley. Javon Kinlaw was saying that his knee had never felt better. Nick Bosa had his first real offseason program with Kris Kocurek and he was going to be in his second year back from his ACL. Defensive end Drake Jackson was added to an already very deep defensive end room, with Samson Ebukam and Charles Omenihu showing lots of promise to close the 2021 season out. Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw and Azeez Al-Shaair were all healthy making the best linebacker trio in football. DeMeco Ryans felt confident enough in Talanoa Hufanga to let Jaquiski Tartt walk. Jimmie Ward was one of the most underrated safeties in football.

On offense, Trey Lance was named QB1. He was good at throwing deep and outside the numbers, plus he would force opposing defenses to play 11 on 11. Ty Davis-Price was drafted and Jordan Mason added as a undrafted free agent -- they're two running backs who would bolster Elijah Mitchell and Jeff Wilson Jr. in the running back room.  Danny Gray was drafted to add a lightning speed deep threat for Lance.  

Seemed like a safe bet that the Niners' ownage of the Rams would continue...

Then the season started.

Actually, on August 14, Jimmie Ward suffered a Grade 3 tear of his hamstring that will keep him out until between Week 6 and week 10. Daniel Brunskill pulled his hammy as well and is still out after a setback.

Just prior to Week 1 in Chicago, George Kittle pulled his groin in practice. Luckily, he is back now.

Week 1, Mitchell sprained his MCL, which will keep him out 6-8 weeks. Defensive end Jordan Willis is out on IR with a knee cleanup.

Week 2, Davis-Price got a high ankle sprain which is usually a 4-6 week injury. Tight end Tyler Kroft sprained his MCL and is out at least 6-8 weeks. The one that changed everything was Lance's broken and dislocated ankle putting him on season ending IR and possibly ending any realistic hope of contending in 2022.

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Then during the week, Arik Armstead's foot got injured. At first it seemed likely that he'd play in Denver. As it grew close to kickoff, their was still hope that he could go, but in the end the team decided to make him inactive vs the Broncos. I can't help but think that if he had played that he would've made the difference in such a tight game.

Just when you thought that it couldn't get any worse, all-world left tackle Trent Williams suffered a high ankle sprain in Denver and Al-Shaair sprained his MCL.

What I thought would be an easy game at Levi's on Monday Night Football is now looking to be fraught with peril. I'm not saying that the good guys won't win, but it's going take a full team effort. The Niners beat the Rams in Week 18 of the 2021 season with Colton McKivitz and Tom Compton playing left tackle and right tackle. I'd rather have McKivitz and McGlincney playing offensive tackle. Here's what has to happen to keep the sweep streak going:

1) Get back to pounding the rock.

2) Garoppolo needs to play at least average.

3) The 49ers defense probably needs to score a touchdown or at least get turnovers that lead to points

4) Brunskill (or Spener Burford) needs to be Aaron Donald's dad.

5) Arik Armstead must play.

6) Deebo Samuel must have a monster game.

7) Double- or even triple-cover Cooper Kupp to make someone else beat the 49ers.

8) The entire team must play as if their season depends on it, because it pretty much does

As always, I will reply to this article about an hour before kickoff with official score prediction, once we know who will play and who won't.