This is the first part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Rams matchups to watch Monday, 5:30 p.m. (PT), at Edwards Jones Dome, St. Louis.
49ers FB Bruce Miller vs. Rams LB James Laurinaitis
Tale of the tape
Miller (49): 6 foot 2, 241 pounds, fourth season, Central Florida
Laurinaitis (55): 6 foot 2, 248 pounds, sixth season, Ohio State
Miller might not touch the ball too much, but he is a big part of the 49ers’ running game. Running back Frank Gore likes to run out the I-formation, and Miller is the player who often leads him into the hole as part of the 49ers power game.
Laurinatis has been a central part of the Rams’ defense since his arrival on the scene as a second-round draft pick in 2009. Last season was the fifth consecutive year in which Laurinaitis recorded 100 or more tackles.
“I think Bruce is very versatile. I think he’s gotten better as he’s played there,” Laurinaitis said this week. “The ball follows him a whole lot. And whether it’s straight (isolation) plays up the middle or whether it’s him getting outside on the edge and you see him catching the football, as well. And when he gets to the point of attack, he’s a good football player. I think he springs Frank for a lot of runs, as well.”
Where Miller goes, Gore is usually going to follow. And that means Laurinaitis will be tracking both of them to attempt to prevent Gore from his third consecutive 100-yard rushing game. The 49ers will want to run the football against a Rams defense that ranks tied for 29th against the run.
Meanwhile, the 49ers own the league’s No. 3 rushing attack.