Opponent: vs. St. Louis
Time: 1:25 p.m.
Line: Rams by 3 1/2
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Records: 49ers 4-11, Rams 7-8
TV/Radio: Ch. 13 (Tom McCarthy, Adam Archuleta), 680, 1320
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH
Stop the rush: The 49ers, who did a poor job tackling in Detroit, will face a Rams rushing attack that gained 197 yards in the teams’ first meeting in Week 8. The Rams, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, will be without their top rusher, Todd Gurley, while the 49ers will be missing defensive lineman Quinton Dial, out with back issues, linebacker Michael Wilhoite, out with a knee injury, and possibly safety Jaquiski Tartt (knee).
Gabbert’s progress: Blaine Gabbert hasn’t been spectacular as the 49ers’ starting quarterback, but he’s been steady, and has shown enough progress that the team can bank on him to be its starter next year, at least at the beginning of the season. Gabbert, who was born and raised in St. Louis, must continue to show improvement Sunday against a good Rams defense. Winning the finale wouldn’t hurt his cause, either.
What can Brown do? No one gave rookie Trent Brown straight A’s after his first NFL start Sunday against the Lions. But he was solid in a domed stadium on the road and showed nice movement skills for someone who is 6-foot-8 and weighs around 350 pounds. Another good outing will make the 49ers feel better about the offensive-tackle position in 2016. That won’t be easy against the Rams, who are tied for seventh in the league with 40 sacks.
Get Hayne in space: Running back Jarryd Hayne must learn how to run between the tackles, something at which he had plenty of opportunities in Detroit. But he was a very effective runner in the preseason when he had room to roam. That’s something the 49ers have failed to provide during the regular season, both in the running game and when Hayne has come out of the backfield as a receiver. Let’s see what he can do with a swing pass or screen pass Sunday.
Don’t be fooled: Rams punter Johnny Hekker, who was a quarterback in high school, is the master of the fake punt, something St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher has not been shy about using in recent years, including against the 49ers. San Francisco allowed the Lions to pick up a first down on a fake punt Sunday in what may have been their worst overall special-teams outing of the season.
Out: DT Quinton Dial (back), LB Michael Wilhoite (ankle)
Doubtful: C Marcus Martin (concussion), S Jaquiski Tartt (knee)
Probable: DT Arik Armstead (shoulder, shin), LB NaVorro Bowman (shoulder, finger), CB Tramaine Brock (hamstring), LB Ahmad Brooks (shoulder, back), T Trenton Brown (knee), LB Eli Harold (finger), CB Dontae Johnson (ankle), RB Bruce Miller (foot), T Erik Pears (knee), S Eric Reid (hip), WR Torrey Smith (back, foot), T Joe Staley (knee, illness)
Out: DT Nick Fairly (concussion), CB Eric Patterson (ankle), DT Doug Worthington (thigh)
Doubtful: RB Todd Gurley (foot)
Questionable: T Andrew Donnal (knee)
Probable: S Mark Barron (concussion), DT Michael Brockers (thigh), DL Ethan Westbrooks (concussion)
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