49ers Catch Break After Latest Season-Ending Injury

Robert Woods

Getty Robert Woods takes on two 49er defenders during San Francisco's 23-20 road win in November 2020.

The San Francisco 49ers will be facing a depleted Los Angeles Rams wide receiver core — even with the addition of Odell Beckham Jr.

Why? The Monday Night Football opponent for the ‘Niners just suffered their latest injury blow on offense.

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On the morning of Saturday, November 13, ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter and fellow ESPN reporter Dianna Russini reported that Robert Woods suffered a torn ACL, likely wiping away the rest of the 2021 season.

And per Schefter, Woods hobbled out of Friday’s practice, but yet still spoke to reporters — giving the press the notion everything was fine.

Though the Rams acquired the former Cleveland Brown on Thursday, the Rams wide receiver room now looks like this for the forthcoming MNF contest: Cooper Kupp, Van Jefferson, Beckham Jr., Ben Skowronek and J.J. Koski. The Rams lost DeSean Jackson after seven games following his release from the team during the week of November 1 and has since joined the Las Vegas Raiders.

Rams Bit Hard by Injuries

Though the Rams will enter Levi’s Stadium 7-2 overall, the team has dealt with key injuries.

Starting running back Cam Akers went down before training camp with a torn Achilles. Darrell Henderson Jr. has battled through his own ailments, recently a ribs injury that sidelined him for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game in Week 3. Sony Michel has had to battle through a shoulder injury he sustained against the New York Giants.

In the WR room, Woods joins rookies Tutu Atwell (season-ending shoulder surgery) and hybrid TE/WR Jacob Harris (ACL/MCL) as key injuries to that group.

How did Woods go down? Per Peter Schrager of the NFL Network, Woods planted his foot during a running play and things went south from there.

But here’s the significance of the Woods’ ACL tear: Per Rams reporter Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic, Woods is one of two focal points of the Rams offense.

What Could the 49ers Expect Now With Changes at WR?

It was already a forgone conclusion, but Beckham Jr. will officially make his first Rams start against the 49ers come Monday.

The November 15 NFC West battle will mark the fifth time Beckham will face the 49ers. In the previous four meetings, Beckham has caught a combined 19 passes for 314 yards and has scored three touchdowns according to Pro Football Reference.

His best outing against the 49ers came on October 11, 2015, when he hauled in seven catches for 121 yards and scored one touchdown.

However, Beckham struggled in his last appearance in Santa Clara on October 7, 2019: Catching only two throws for 27 yards as the ‘Niners cruised to the 31-3 romp on MNF.

Beckham is likely to see a higher snap increase than what was originally anticipated. Oh, he could line up against Josh Norman, who is aiming to play despite his injured ribs. And with this memory sprouting up between the two.

But will this mean that OBJ will handle the role that Woods now bequeaths? Which was handling the inside routes, taking on blockers, getting motioned out and basically doing the dirty work among the receivers?

Signs are indicating that second-year wideout Jefferson — whose father Shawn played against the 49ers in the 1995 Super Bowl as a San Diego Charger — will get more opportunities and targets, which could mean he’ll move into Woods’ role.

Per Pro Football Focus, Jefferson has caught 12 of his 27 catches in the middle of the field. At 6-foot-2, 200-pounds, he could give the Rams a longer option in those middle catches while facing the likes of a healthier Jimmie Ward expected to be back at safety plus linebackers Fred Warner and Azeez Al-Shaair in the lineup.

Jefferson, though, may not be the only inside option. The Rams could turn to tight end Tyler Higbee on those inside plays as they integrate Beckham into the offense.

Regardless, an explosive Rams offense that leads the NFL in average yards per passing play will go without one of their go-to options outside of Kupp and the new guy OBJ. And this is also a Rams team that has lost their last four meetings against the 49ers.

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