SANTA CLARA – The 49ers will play Sunday without both starting offensive tackles and their do-everything fullback.

Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips must be wondering what adjustments 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan will showcase in the key NFC West matchup on Sunday at the LA Memorial Coliseum.

Tight end George Kittle said even for the team’s offensive players there always is a sense of anticipation and surprise when he learns the team’s game plan on a weekly basis.

“I’m always excited to see our game plan every single week we install because it’s so different every single week with what coach Shanahan brings to the table,” Kittle said Thursday before the club went to the practice field to work on its third-down package.

“They did some different things, and it’s fun to try out new stuff. So we’re looking forward to it.”

Fullback Kyle Juszczyk is a significant part of the 49ers’ offense, so Shanahan and run game coordinator Mike McDaniel must to come up with ways to compensate for the loss of an irreplaceable fullback. The 49ers could try to assist the running back with more two-tight end formations with Kittle and either Ross Dwelley or Levine Toilolo.

“I think I’m much better at tight end than I am at fullback,” Kittle said. ‘So hopefully I’m not too much in the backfield running the ‘18 Mike’ and stuff like that. Whether it’s Dwelley or some more motion stuff, more single-back stuff, coach Shanahan and coach McDaniel, they got a good plan for that.”


The solutions are a little more straight forward as the 49ers move on without left tackle Joe Staley and right tackle Mike McGlinchey. Justin Skule will start his third game in place of Staley, while first-year player Daniel Brunskill makes his first NFL start filling in for McGlinchey.

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The 49ers (4-0) are looking to take a step toward creating a big cushion on the Rams (3-2) for the division lead. The Rams won the NFC West and advanced to the Super Bowl last season after defeating the 49ers 39-10 and 48-32 in the regular season.

“It’s something I’ve had circled on my calendar for a while. And I’m just really looking forward to going back down there and finally giving them a good fight,” Kittle said. “Because I feel like the last two times we played them, we haven’t really given ourselves a shot at all.

“We might not be full-go. We’re missing some tackles and our fullback, but I think we’re ready for this more mentally than we have been in the past.”