• James Jones

3 keys for the 49ers against the Rams on Thursday

The San Francisco 49ers have once again opened a season leaving a great deal to be desired in many facets. While the defense has shown much more in two-games than anyone really believed they would, the offense has been a cause for concern.

It will be incumbent on head coach Kyle Shanahan to find a way to generate more production than they have so far in 2017. Most notably, his team has to score a touchdown and show that they can make adjustments. For all the offensive genius talk that Shanahan brought with him, he has failed to live up to that moniker.

The offense won’t find it any easier to score against a Los Angeles Rams defense that has always played the 49ers tough. There are some areas that can be focused on which could result in a 49ers victory.

3. Stop RB Todd Gurley

The Todd Gurley that was held to 40 carries for 94 yards and one touchdown in two games with San Francisco last season appears to be gone. The Rams' star running back has come out of the gates firing on all cylinders.

The 49ers also had the worst running defense in the league last season and it wasn’t even close. This year though, under new defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, the defense is playing with fire and passion. Last year the team allowed 165.9 rushing yards per game, this year they are down to 123.5, not great but still an improvement over 2016.

If the 49ers hope to come away with a win against their longtime division foe, they have to put the clamps down on Gurley.

2. Get pressure on QB Jared Goff

DL DeForest Buckner said earlier this week that if the 49ers can get pressure on the Rams quarterback early that they can rattle him and have an impact on the game. While this is true, such talk could be used as bulletin board material in the visitors locker room.

The point does remain however, that if the 49ers can generate a consistent pass rush against the former Cal QB they can dictate the game and allow the secondary to get some interceptions. Getting to Goff could force him into bad decisions and ultimately be a game changer.

1. QB Brian Hoyer has to produce

To say that QB Brian Hoyer has been a disappointment going into the third game of the season would be an understatement. Last week the journeyman quarterback passed for only 99-yards. To be fair, he had not received much help from his receivers, who have multiple dropped passes in two-games.

Even with that, Hoyer has looked skittish and unsure of himself behind an offensive line that did an admirable job at protecting him in Seattle last week. For the 49ers to win they cannot merely rely on the running game. The perfect storm will be a good mix of pass and rush, allowing the 49ers to use the play action and keep the stout Rams defense off balance.