Game breakdown: 49ers vs. Rams

Game plans, matchups to watch and injury impact for the 49ers and Rams entering Sunday's game between the two longtime NFC west rivals at San Francisco's Monster Park.

49ERS GAME PLAN: With their injuries on the offensive line, the 49ers will undoubtedly be tested by the Rams' blitz packages under new defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. The 49ers will have to work hard to get the run game going behind Frank Gore. In the opener, the 49ers ran the ball 18 times while attempting 41 passes. Gore could turn into a workhorse-type of back with his pounding style. Gore carried 16 times for 87 yards and two TDs against the Cardinals. Prior to the start of the season, coach Mike Nolan said he expects the 49ers to run the ball 60 percent of the time over the course of the season. The run game has to be a big part of this game, both with Gore getting the ball in his hands a lot, as well as the team using play-action pass to slow down the Rams' blitz package. Defensively, the 49ers will try to keep the Rams guessing with their defensive scheme. The 49ers used a lot of 4-3 in the opener, but also generated some pass rush with their 3-4 scheme, as outside linebacker Brandon Moore had a good game rushing the passer. Nolan said Moore will be more active this week in the team's game plan. The 49ers must get some hits on Rams quarterback Marc Bulger to keep him from sitting in the pocket and delivering the ball down the field to receivers Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce and Kevin Curtis.

RAMS GAME PLAN: On offense, the Rams will try to exploit matchups in the 49ers' secondary and create yardage with the passing game. Defensively, the goal will be to get pressure on quarterback Alex Smith and force him into mistakes. To do that, the defense will have to stop running back Frank Gore.

--- 49ers RT Kwame Harris, whose has struggled some with his pass-blocking through the years, vs. Rams LDE Leonard Little, who recorded two sacks and two QB hurries in the season opener.
--- 49ers DT Bryant Young, who will play a lot inside when the 49ers move into their 4-3 defense, vs. RG Adam Timmerman, who has historically played well against Young in the past.
--- 49ers CBs Walt Harris and Shawntae Spencer, who appear to give the Niners their best cornerback tandem in some time, vs. WRs Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce, who combined for 12 receptions for 144 yards in Week 1 against the Broncos. Harris and Spencer were part of a pass defense that allowed 301 yards and a passer rating of 114.8 against Arizona
--- Rams defensive line, which had four sacks against the Broncos, vs. 49ers offensive line, which will be without LG Larry Allen and possibly LT Jonas Jennings. If Jennings doesn't play, the Rams would likely switch Little from the left side to the right. The 49ers still have yet to determine who will start in place of Allen or Jennings, if he is unvailable.

--- LG Larry Allen (left knee) sustained a sprain of his medial collateral ligament on the opening drive of the 49ers' first game of the season. The injury will not require surgery, but Allen is expected to miss 2 to 4 weeks.
--- LT Jonas Jennings (right ankle) sustained a high ankle sprain late in the first half of the season opener against the Cardinals. He was upgraded to questionable Friday, and coach Mike Nolan said Jennings has a chance to be in the starting lineup against the Rams.
--- TE Vernon Davis (left hip) sustained a bruise in the opener and missed five plays. He returned to play the entire second half and is probable against the Rams.
--- TE Delanie Walker (separated right shoulder) is expected to miss another few weeks but could be back for the team's fourth game. Walker sustained his injury in the 49ers final exhibition game, Sept. 1.
--- LB Parys Haralson (left foot strain) is expected to be out another week, though he returned to practice on Wednesday. He was upgraded to questionable Friday and could play this week. It's more likely he'll be available for the Sept. 24 game against the Eagles. Haralson sustained the injury Aug. 15 in practice.
The impact will be huge after the loss of C Andy McCollum for the season. Larry Turner filled in when McCollum left the game against Denver, but Turner could be back on the bench against San Francisco. The Rams are expected to slide Richie Incognito to center from left guard, and insert Todd Steussie at left guard.

Niners Digest Top Stories