The 49ers head into their bye week following Sunday's 27-13 loss to the New Orleans Saints hoping to get several key players back in time for their Week 12 matchup with the Los Angeles Rams. Meanwhile, it's guaranteed the Rams will be without at least one of the players most critical to their success.
The Rams got a big win on Sunday over the Seattle Seahawks, but it came at a significant cost. Veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth was carted off the field with an apparent leg injury, and as assumed, it's serious.
NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Sunday night that Whitworth sustained a torn MCL and will be placed on injured reserve.
Whitworth might have avoided the worst, but it's still terrible news for him and the Rams. He'll miss at least the next three weeks while on injured reserve, and there's a good chance his absence lasts well beyond that.
Currently in his 15th NFL season, Whitworth remains one of the better tackles in the league. Entering Sunday, he was Pro Football Focus' fifth-best graded tackle on the season, including the third-best run-blocking grade among his peers. He unquestionably is the Rams' best offensive lineman, and they're going to severely miss him for however long he is out.
In the 49ers' 24-16 win over the Rams in Week 6, they allowed Los Angeles to average nearly six yards per rush. Whitworth played in that game, and without him in Week 12, one would imagine the Rams will need quarterback Jared Goff to play much better against a San Francisco defense that held him under 200 yards passing and to a 37.2 QB rating the last time around.
Whitworth's absence certainly will be one thing working in the 49ers' favor, particularly considering they should get some of their top players back from injury during the bye who missed the first matchup with Los Angeles.
And Whitworth wasn't the only key Rams' player who left Sunday's game with an injury. Starting safety Taylor Rapp departed the contest with an apparent leg injury and did not return. NFL Media's Tom Pelissero reported Sunday night that it is believed Rapp sustained a sprained MCL.
If Rapp's MCL is sprained, it's difficult to imagine him being available against the 49ers in Week 12. Rapp had nine tackles in the Week 6 loss to San Francisco, and his absence likely would make things easier on either Nick Mullens or C.J. Beathard, who will need all the help they can get against Aaron Donald & Co.
The Rams will get a little extra time to heal up ahead of their next game, as they'll play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the road on "Monday Night Football" in Week 11. That might help them in the immediate, but that also means they'll be coming off short rest in Week 12, while the 49ers will be coming off their bye.
Circumstances have largely worked against San Francisco so far this season, but the bye combined with the Rams' injuries could present a welcomed change.