Los Angeles Rams v San Francisco 49ers
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Good morning to everyone but especially to...

THE SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

The 49ers could write a book on how to beat the Rams, and it would be an instant bestseller among the 30 other NFL teams. San Francisco followed their script again on Monday in a 24-9 win over Los Angeles to make it seven straight regular-season victories over the Rams.

  • Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 239 yards and a touchdown to Deebo Samuel. Samuel finished with seven catches and 115 yards, nearly half of which came on his magnificent 57-yard catch-and-run.
  • Jeff Wilson had 74 rushing yards and a touchdown.
  • The 49ers sacked Matthew Stafford seven times, and Talanoa Hufanga had a fourth-quarter pick-six that put San Francisco up two scores.
  • Nick Bosa himself had 14 pressures, the most by any player in a game this season.

This was just the fourth time since 2019 the Rams have been held to single-digit points. The 49ers are responsible for two of the four. How do they do it? Since the seven-game winning streak began in 2019...

  • The 49ers have a 7.1% sack rate against the Rams despite blitzing on just 22.7% of dropbacks. All other teams have a 4.1% sack rate against the Rams while blitzing on 28.7% of dropbacks.
  • The 49ers have averaged 165 yards after the catch against the Rams. All other teams have averaged 113.
  • The Rams have averaged 2.6 plays of 20+ yards per game against the 49ers, compared to 4.4 against all other teams.
  • The Rams have trailed for an average of 32:44 against the 49ers compared to 25:37 against all other teams.

Simple, right? Get pressure without bringing extra players, get the ball to your playmakers in space, don't give up big plays and play from ahead. In reality, it takes great players, great discipline and a great game plan -- things only the 49ers have brought consistently against the Rams.

Honorable mentions

And not such a good morning for...

NFL: OCT 03 Rams at 49ers
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THE LOS ANGELES RAMS

The Rams have some big problems, and it starts with big plays. Or, rather, lack thereof. Los Angeles' offense was once again sluggish Monday, producing zero plays of 20+ yards. It has just 10 all season. Only the Giants have fewer.

It's a testament to Cooper Kupp's greatness that he managed a career-high 14 receptions for 122 yards, because there are very few weapons on this Rams offense to take the defense's focus off of him.

  • Allen Robinson II, brought in to alleviate the offseason departures of Odell Beckham Jr. and Robert Woods, has nine receptions this season and seems to be an afterthought in the offense. Van Jefferson, the team's best deep threat, is on IR.
  • Kupp's 42 receptions are 30 more than the second-leading wide receiver, Ben Skowronek (who's really playing fullback/wide receiver). That's the largest gap in the NFL by far between a team's top two wideouts. The next-largest gap is 16.
  • The Rams' 3.3 rush yards is fourth-lowest in the NFL.
  • Only Carson Wentz (17) has taken more sacks than Stafford (16) this season.

Finally, here's the shocker: the Rams ranked fourth in the NFL in yards per play last year. This year, they're 31st, only ahead of the Commanders. There are a lot of problems and, right now, no easy solutions.

U.S. Soccer Federation investigation into NWSL reveals misconduct, harassment, abuse

SOCCER: APR 04 Australia at USA
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NOTE: This section contains disturbing details and sensitive subject matter.

The U.S. Soccer Federation revealed the findings and recommendations from Sally Q. Yates' investigation into the National Women's Soccer League in Monday. After interviews with more than 200 people, including over 100 current or former players, it found "systemic" abuse and misconduct throughout the league and a massive failure to respond to players' complaints.

Among the findings were...

  • Former Racing Louisville head coach Christy Holly called player Erin Simon in for a film session and touched her for every mistake she made, including "push[ing] his hands down her pants and up her shirt."
  • Former Portland Thorns head coach Paul Riley sexually pursued player Meleana Shim and had previously coerced another player, Sinead Farrelly, into a sexual relationship. The league knew about both complaints and failed to act.
  • Former Red Stars head coach Rory Dames was one of several people who were found to have verbally and/or emotionally abused players.

The USSF and the U.S. Soccer board of directors announced plans and changes going forward, including...

  • Creating a new Committee of the Board of Directors to develop a plan to act upon Yates' recommendations
  • Creating a new Participant Safety Taskforce
  • Mandating minimum standards for background checks

MLB Power Rankings: Does momentum matter entering postseason? ⚾

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Some teams limp into the postseason, while other teams sprint. Most do something in between. But the real question is: Does it matter?

That's what our MLB expert Matt Snyder attempted to figure out in his latest MLB Power Rankings, and the answer is, well, there's no absolute answer. Clinch early, rally late, finish strong, finish weak... all have applied to various World Series champions over the last decade.

Speaking of teams finishing strong, the Yankees and the Braves are two teams doing just that and, in turn, moving up the Power Rankings. Here's the top five.

  • 1. Dodgers (prev: 1)
  • 2. Astros (prev: 2)
  • 3. Yankees (prev: 5)
  • 4. Braves (prev: 4)
  • 5. Mets (prev: 3)

As for one individual Yankee, the strong finish better begin soon if he wants to hold one of the sport's most hallowed records by himself. Aaron Judge's latest home run drought is at five games, and he remains at 61 for the season, tied with Roger Maris for the AL record. He has one homer over his last 13 games, tied for his fewest over any 13-game span this season. The Yankees have three games left in the regular season.

Bryce Young considered day-to-day; get to know Jalen Milroe 🏈

NCAA Football: Alabama at Arkansas
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Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young is day-to-day with a shoulder sprain after an awkward landing Saturday against Arkansas. Alabama head coach Nick Saban said the injury is not a long-term issue, but he did not go into much more detail and said there likely won't be another public update ahead of this Saturday's showdown against Texas A&M (8 p.m. on CBS).

Should the top-ranked Crimson Tide be without Young, they'll turn once again to redshirt freshman Jalen Milroe. Here's a little bit about him:

  • Milroe played sparingly last season and, prior to Saturday, this season as well. But he did well against the Razorbacks, throwing for 65 yards, rushing for 91 more and accounting for two touchdowns.
  • Milroe was a four-star recruit and rated as the 14th-best quarterback in the 2021 class according to 247Sports. He chose Alabama over Texas, among others.
  • Here's some of the scouting report on him coming out of high school: "True dual-threat with necessary tools as a passer and runner. Athleticism bears out in both departments. Live-armed and flashes encouraging velocity over the middle of the field in the short-to-intermediate passing game. Requisite arm strength translates to vertical passing game. ... Can improve ball security, particularly when on the run. Footwork technique and consistency can improve."

UEFA Champions League is back, and we have bold predictions ⚽

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After three weeks away, the Champions League returns with eight matches today, all streaming on Paramount+. Here's the full match list:

  • Bayern Munich vs. Viktoria Plzen -- 12:45 p.m.
  • Olympique de Marseille vs. Sporting CP -- 12:45 p.m.
  • Ajax vs. Napoli -- 3 p.m.
  • Liverpool vs. Rangers -- 3 p.m.
  • Club Brugge vs. Atletico Madrid -- 3 p.m.
  • Porto vs. Bayer Leverkusen -- 3 p.m.
  • Inter Milan vs. Barcelona -- 3 p.m.
  • Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Tottenham Hotspur -- 3 p.m.

One of the most intriguing matches is Ajax vs. Napoli. Napoli is atop Group A with arguably the most impressive performances of any Champions League team -- a 4-1 win over Liverpool and a 3-0 win over Rangers -- and also lead Italy's Serie A. Expect the success to continue, our soccer reporter James Benge writes in his bold predictions.

What we're watching Tuesday 📺

UEFA Champions League, 12:45 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Paramount+ (details here)
Phillies at Astros, 8:10 p.m. on TBS
🏀 G League Ignite vs. Metropolitans 92, 10 p.m. on ESPN2