The 49ers are the defending NFC champions, but they have endured early-season injuries and struggles. They’re in last place in the NFC West and this has the feel of being a significant game for them, even in mid-October, when they face the Rams on “Sunday Night Football” in Santa Clara, Calif.
The Niners have lost two straight games and have a record of 2-3. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is to make a second straight start for the 49ers after returning from an ankle injury. He failed to finish last Sunday’s 43-17 loss at home to the Miami Dolphins, throwing two interceptions and being benched in favor of C.J. Beathard for what Coach Kyle Shanahan suggested at the time was at least in part for Garoppolo’s protection.
The Rams are off to a 4-1 start to the season and are chasing the first-place Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald has 7.5 sacks through five games and perhaps is the early-season front-runner for NFL defensive player of the year. Quarterback Jared Goff has played well with eight touchdown passes, three interceptions and a passer rating of 108.8.