Coming off a devastating loss to the Green Bay Packers on Monday night, the 49ers have a short turnaround to face the NFL’s only unbeaten team.
The Los Angeles Rams have the firepower on offense to make short work of the 49ers on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium. The 49ers are in the midst of a four-game losing streak and might be hard-pressed to remain competitive.
Here are four players who must come through with strong games in order for the 49ers to have a chance:
WR Marquise Goodwin
His presence on the field is one thing. But just being out there is not good enough. Goodwin must be able to provide the threat of a big play, which he accomplished against the Packers with touchdown receptions covering 67 and 30 yards.
Goodwin is a huge asset in the passing game for quarterback C.J. Beathard. His speed opens up the field for other targets to work underneath routes. But Goodwin also makes defenses play a little softer, which can be beneficial for the 49ers’ running game, too.
Goodwin sustained a deep thigh bruise early in the 49ers’ season opener at Minnesota. He is finally healthy, and that is a big boost to the offense.
FS Adrian Colbert
The 49ers rank last in the NFL with a minus-11 turnover margin. Most of the focus has been on the team’s offensive issues with holding onto the football. But the defense has not done its part, either. The 49ers must generate more takeaways.
Colbert has struggled this season, and this week coach Kyle Shanahan challenged him to step up his game.
“He has to get back to where he ended last year,” Shanahan said on “49ers Game Plan,” which airs Saturday at 7 p.m. on NBC Bay Area (Ch. 3). “I thought he ended last year at a high level.
“He’s had some good moments, but he’s had some bad moments, also. I put a lot of pressure on him this week. He’s had a good week of practice, and I hope it’ll pay off for him in the game.”
LG Laken Tomlinson
The 49ers’ offensive line has been one of the team’s bright spots -- both in pass protection and run-blocking. While each of the team’s offensive linemen has played well, the 49ers are especially pleased with Tomlinson.
“Laken has taken a huge step with his second year in the scheme,” Shanahan said.
Tomlinson faces a huge challenge on Sunday against one of the best interior defensive linemen in the league. Aaron Donald signed a six-year, $135 million extension with the Rams before the start of the regular season. He leads the team with four sacks.
Donald has recorded each of his sacks this season while lined up over the left guard. Tomlinson must find a way to neutralize Donald’s quickness off the snap of the ball to open lanes in the running game as well as protect Beathard.
CB Ahkello Witherspoon
After a promising rookie season, Witherspoon has taken a noticeable step backward this season. Failing to nail down the starting job, Witherspoon has been benched for two games this season.
But he is expected to be back in the starting lineup against the Rams despite missing some practice time this week with a concussion.
Jimmie Ward started against the Packers and mostly played well, except for a busted coverage on the Packers’ first play of the game. Greg Mabin entered late in the game – instead of Witherspoon – when Ward exited with a hamstring injury.
Ward is not likely to be available, and Mabin struggled badly in his limited role. Now, Witherspoon gets another chance to see if he can seize the opportunity to win the starting job opposite of Richard Sherman, who is also listed as questionable for the game with a calf injury. Teams have ignored Sherman’s side of the field, so Witherspoon has to step up and make some plays when he gets his opportunities.