Rams Take on 49ers: What to Watch

Two first-time head coaches square off Thursday night when the Los Angeles Rams faces the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara.

Programming Note: Tonight's game will be broadcast on NBC4

Here's what to look for as the teams take the field in Week 3 of the NFL season.

FAVORITE FOE: Ever since beating Chicago on Dec. 6, 2015, the 49ers have been unable to beat any other team -- except for the Rams. San Francisco won the season finale that year against the Rams and then swept Los Angeles last season. Over a 22-game span, the Niners are 3-0 against the Rams and 0-19 against everyone else.

"We're done with that. We're on to this year," Rams quarterback Jared Goff said. "Last year was a whole different deal and this year is exciting."

FAMILY AFFAIR: Rams coach Sean McVay has a family connection to the 49ers through his grandfather. John McVay spent more than two decades in the front office in San Francisco and was a key part of the dynasty that brought five Super Bowl titles to the franchise. Sean McVay hopes to get a chance to see his grandfather before the game.

"I want to ask him who he'll be rooting for," he said. "I'd like to think that family runs a little thicker, but you have to ask him that."

SEARCH FOR SIX: The 49ers have had 21 drives this season and are still waiting for their first touchdown. San Francisco has 11 punts, four field goals, three turnovers and three failed fourth-down attempts so far. The biggest culprit has been quarterback Brian Hoyer, who is averaging just 4.7 yards per attempt thanks in part to just two completions on throws that traveled more than 10 yards downfield.

"You've just got to get completions and move the chains," he said. "`I think that's the one thing we've got to do as an entire offense is stay on the field longer. Our defense is doing a great job. Keep them off the field. Keep them fresh. For us it would be great to just go out and sustain a drive."

GOFF GROWS: Goff looks like a completely different quarterback than the one who struggled as a rookie late last season against the 49ers. Goff went 11 for 24 for 90 yards in a 22-21 loss on Christmas Eve as part of a 0-7 rookie season. Goff got his first win in the opener against Indianapolis and has thrown for 265 yards per game, up from 155.6 as a rookie.

SAFETY DANCE: The 49ers have been hit with the injury bug at safety. Strong safety Eric Reid will miss at least a couple of games with an injured left knee, free safety Jimmie Ward is still working his way back from a training camp hamstring injury and hasn't played a complete game and backup Jaquiski Tartt has been slowed this week by a neck injury. The only fully healthy safeties on the roster are a pair of rookies in seventh-rounder Adrian Colbert and undrafted Lorenzo Jerome.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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