On paper, Sunday's 49ers-Rams matchup doesn't look pretty for San Francisco.
The 2-5 Niners are coming off an ugly 20-3 loss to Seattle and have lost five of their past six games. The San Francisco offense often has looked lost during that span and has fallen to last in the league.
Now the 49ers have to travel to St. Louis to face the 3-3 Rams, who are a much more dangerous group than last season. St. Louis is coming off a 24-6 victory over the Browns in which they dominated. The Rams -- with the 12th-overall defense in the NFL -- had four sacks and four takeaways against Cleveland.
The biggest mismatch appears to be the 49ers' shaky offensive line vs. the St. Louis pass rush, which is tied for the NFC lead with 23 sacks, led by Aaron Donald (4½) and Robert Quinn (4).
"You have to account for that strength that they have," 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula said this week of the Rams' front seven. "They make you account for it. That's a talented group."
If the Niners can't slow the Rams' rush, they may have no chance at all of moving the ball. Colin Kaepernick this season has been ineffective in games when the line hasn't given him time. Already, Kaepernick has been sacked 25 times.
Tomsula told reporters this week that the Niners planned no changes to the personnel on the offensive line before Sunday's game in St. Louis (10 a.m. kickoff). But, he said they were looking at "formations and things like that" that might help keep Kaepernick upright.
On defense, the 49ers will get a look at exciting rookie running back Todd Gurley, who's averaging more than 144 yards rushing per game in his first three starts. Job No. 1 for the 49ers will be to stop him, otherwise the Rams may be able to control the tempo of the game.
The 49ers will be hard pressed to earn their third victory of the season. Oddsmakers have made the Rams 6-point favorites.