McVay, Shanahan go head-to-head in San Francisco

McVay, Shanahan go head-to-head in San Francisco

September 21, 2017 8:00 AM
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Two rookie coaches and ex-colleagues will be going head-to-head Thursday night to open Week 3 of the NFL season.

The LA Rams' Sean McVay will be matching wits with the 49ers' Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco in the fourth matchup of rookie field bosses on a Thursday night since 2006. The common denominator is that the home team won in each instance, including last year when Philly and Doug Pederson beat NYG and Ben McAdoo 24-19 as a 1.5-point dog.

Thursday's game could bring up ugly memories for the two starting QBs. San Fran's Brian Hoyer, starting for his fourth team in four years, has had five previous Thursday outings on three-days' prep time and in two of them he suffered a season-ending injury. As for LA's Jared Goff, in his second year, his Rams were routed 24-3 in Seattle last year in his fifth start the same week longtime head coach Jeff Fisher was fired and an interim staff was in charge.

Now for a closer look at this game. The odds are provided by Westgate Las Vegas:

 

Los Aangeles Rams (1-1) at San Francisco 49ers (0-2)

Time: 5:30 p.m.

Line: Rams by 2.5 (39.5)

Facts: Dating to 2015, the 49ers are 3-0 vs. the Rams, 0-17 vs. everyone else... In that opening-game shutout in 2016, it marked the first time a team that ended up ranked last in defense pitched a shutout since the Saints beat the Bucs 41-0 in 2012... Goff, who took over from Case Keenum in Week 10 last year, had a subterranean 35.2 passer rating in his shot at S.F., a 22-21 home loss in which LA blew a 14-0 lead... San Francisco hasn't scored a TD since last season, being held to four FGs in losses to Carolina and Seattle... LA, which routed short-handed Indy in its opener, 46-9, then lost to Washington 27-20, with the Redskins getting 229 rush yards, the most by anyone this year. 

Analysis: Both teams received a boost last week from the ground game. Rams third-year RB Todd Gurley got 88 yards on 16 carries, which exceeded his yardage total in any game last year when his norm was 3.2 a rush. He also has a league-high three fumbles in 2017. Meanwhile, the 49ers' bulldozing Carlos Hyde had a Week 2 league-best 124 yards against a Seattle defense filled with Pro Bowlers in a spread-beating 12-9 road loss. Based on the way Washington shredded LA's run defense, the edge here is to S.F. Also, although Hoyer is only the league's 31st-rated passer (Goff is 9th), his experience on short prep time and playing at home rates him an edge. He has had nice success in this slot, too, including in 2014 when he led the Browns to a 24-3 win at Cincinnati, the team's most lopsided road win in history. 

Forecast: 49ers 20, Rams 14