Game Day: A big Rams-49ers game, as always

Editor’s note: This is the Monday Oct. 3 edition of the “Game Day with Kevin Modesti” newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.

Good morning. We’re going to learn a lot about the Rams tonight. And get a clearer picture of the whole playoff race.

First, non-Rams news:

  • The Chargers won at Houston to nip their losing streak in the bud.
  • UCLA jumped into the AP rankings at No. 18.
  • Running back Travis Dye had a warning for unbeaten USC.
  • The Dodgers stayed at 110 wins with three games to go.
  • The Angels have got hot when it no longer matters.
  • LAFC clinched the Supporters Shield for MLS’s best record.

The Rams face the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara on Monday Night Football.

We’re used to games against the 49ers proving pivotal for the Rams late in recent seasons, right down to the comeback victory in the NFC championship game last January. While this game in Week 4 of the season won’t settle anything in quite that way, it could set the plot for the rest of the Rams’ season as they try to defend their Super Bowl title.

You can read Gilbert Manzano’s game preview here and his matchup analysis here, read 49ers beat writer Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News here, and watch Manzano and Inman banter about the game on Gilbert’s House of Horns video podcast here.

“There’ll be as many 49ers fans in the house at Levi’s Stadium as there were at SoFi Stadium,” Inman said.

A Rams win would lift them to 3-1 and first place by themselves in the NFC West, and leave the 49ers 1-3 and alone in last place, a pretty nice lead over the team rated as the Rams’ toughest division challengers coming into the season.

A 49ers win would leave both teams at 2-2. In fact, it would put the entire NFC West at .500. What’s more, it would mean that 15 of the NFL’s 32 teams are right at .500.

Parity is the name of the game in the league as much as ever. Only one team is 4-0 (the Eagles) or 0-4 (nobody), the fewest on the extremes at this stage of a season since 1970, the first year of the NFL-AFL merger, when nobody started 4-0 and only one team (the Eagles!) started 0-4. (I looked that up in the week-by-week standings on

But tonight’s game might tell us not just where the Rams stand but where they’re going and how.

Coach Sean McVay has always talked about liking to break a Rams season into four-game chapters for purposes of team evaluation, and the principle stands even though the NFL messed up the math on that when it extended the season from 16 to 17 games.

As they get ready to complete the season’s first quarter – or so – the Rams have yet to play the kind of offense they did last season, and they need more than Matthew Stafford passing to Cooper Kupp.

As Manzano writes, this would be a good night to get wide receiver Allen Robinson more involved.

Tonight is a test for the Rams’ offense because the 49ers’ defense is so good, despite some injury questions on its line. L.A.’s offense was rated No. 14 in rushing and No. 16 in passing, San Francisco’s defense No. 3 against the run and No. 5 against the pass in analytics going into Week 4. Defensive end Nick Bosa (four sacks so far) will be a challenge for an L.A. offensive line that looks as if it might battle injuries all season.

Even with the Rams’ offense yet to break out and the 49ers’ offense getting re-accustomed to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo after Trey Lance’s injury, futures betting in Las Vegas makes the teams top-eight contenders for the Super Bowl and the likeliest teams to come out of the NFC West.

It’s never too early in the season for a Rams-Niners game to be meaningful, and this one sure is.


  • Rams’ Monday Night Football game against the 49ers in Santa Clara (5:15 p.m., Ch. 7, ESPN) is the teams’ fourth meeting in the regular season and playoffs in the past 11 months.
  • Angels have won seven games in a row as they face the A’s in the final series of 2022 for both teams (6:40 p.m., BSW).
  • Dodgers send Tony Gonsolin to the mound for the first time since a forearm strain in Augustwhen they host the Rockies ( 7:10 p.m., SNLA).
  • Lakers play Sacramento in the exhibition opener at Arena (7:30 p.m., SPSN).
  • Clippers meet Portland in an exhibition in Seattle (7:30 p.m., Ch. 5).


Do the Rams look good enough to repeat as Super Bowl champions? Watch tonight’s game and then email your assessment to


– Horse racing writer Art Wilson.

1,000 WORDS

Dodgers third baseman Max Muncy goes all out to catch a foul ball in the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2022. (Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)
Crowd pleaser: Dodgers third baseman Max Muncy goes all out to catch a foul ball in yesterday’s loss to the Rockies at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)


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