This upcoming Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers heavyweight tilt comes with a much different vibe inside.
Inside the line of scrimmage, that is.
One year ago, with a chance to remain at SoFi Stadium on the line for one more game for both teams, the likes of Aaron Donald, Greg Gaines, A’Shawn Robinson and company didn’t get to Jimmy Garoppolo once — not with three Pro Bowlers on the 49ers’ front line trying to stop and slow up the Rams’ rushers like Cal Trans workers on Interstate 405. But a sackless Rams defense still got what mattered the most: The ball back to seal the NFC title off the final pressure of Garoppolo to force the errant throw to Travin Howard.
Now, in the highly-anticipated rematch set for Monday, October 3 at Levi’s Stadium, the familiar trench options on the Rams are back. But it’s a much more maligned 49ers offense including the NFC runner-ups missing a $138 million star. And members of the Rams, including one who talked one-on-one with Heavy, spoke about how the new-look trenches on the other side impacts this matchup and…is it easier pickings this time around or will it be the same physical, stout unit up front the Rams must counter?
Rams React to What They’ve Seen From New 49ers Line
So here’s what the Rams are walking into in Santa Clara.
Trent Williams? The All-Pro who gets paid $138,060,000 to protect the blindside and pulverize defenders when the 49ers run the rock is out for this one with a high ankle sprain. That alone ruins the potential Williams/Donald confrontation. But there’s more…
Laken Tomlinson? Now paving lanes for the New York Jets. Alex Mack? Happily retired.
Three All-Pros, none lining up in the first battle of rivals for 2022. That means the entire starting five expected to protect Garoppolo from the likes of Donald, Bobby Wagner and the barrage of heat from the Rams’ front seven will be a mix of rookies and guys who have had to wait their turn in a room full of Pro Bowlers.
Do the Rams’ defensive trenches already believe they have the upper-hand? Or are there things on film that this group brings that may pose a challenge to the Rams? The All-Pro Donald, who has gotten 12.5 of his 100 career sacks against the 49ers per Pro Football Reference, was first to chime in.
“Well it’s different this year because they got a whole, pretty much a new offensive line, so it’s a lot more studying for me in trying to see how they play and it’s only been three games,” Donald told the L.A. media on Friday, September 30. “I know they got a young group, but seeing how they play certain sets with what they doing it’s just trying to, you know get aggressive with what they do and what they’re good at and what they’re not good at…and just trying to break it down to a ‘T.'”
In all likelihood, Donald will get plugged against rookie Spencer Burford, who’s manning right guard, and Jake Brendel, the replacement for Mack. Although, there could be some packages that involves “A.D” testing Williams’ left tackle replacement Colton McKivitz, who 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan announced will start at that spot. It won’t be his first time stepping in, as he took over for Williams for the Week 18 contest last season.
Donald isn’t the only Ram who has done some studying.
Rising Young Rams DL Reacts to Clash With New-Look Line
Greg Gaines has had seven battles against the 49ers in his young career.
He’s lost six meetings…but owns the last game over S.F. One that saw him get three tackles including one behind the line of scrimmage.
“It’s always a good matchup,” Gaines told Heavy on Friday. “It’s always an exciting one, a physical one, a fun one. We’re all looking forward to it.”
Like his trench captain Donald, the 6-foot-1, 312-pounder has pressed play on 49er offensive lineman clips.
“The two guards are pretty young. But they have a somewhat experienced center,” Gaines said. “Being young isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I feel like I’ve played pretty good as a young guy too.
Overall, Gaines put it bluntly: “You don’t want to overlook these guys.”