Five Players to Watch at 49ers

Posted Jan 2, 2016

Insider Myles Simmons identifies the Vivid Seats Five Players to Watch as the Rams finish their season at San Francisco.

NAPA, Calif. -- The Rams will conclude their season against the 49ers on Sunday. Here are five players to watch as St. Louis attempts to go 5-1 in the NFC West.

1) Tre Mason - No. 27

With running back Todd Gurley doubtful for Sunday, Tre Mason appears to be in line to start and receive plenty of carries. Mason figured heavily into the offense’s plans to begin the year, but due to the myriad offensive struggles those goals were not realized. Now Mason has a chance to finish off the year on a high note, and should receive a good share of opportunities on Sunday.

2) William Hayes - No. 95

The defensive end has arguably been the most productive defensive lineman not named Aaron Donald on the Rams this season. Hayes is second on the team with 5.5 sacks, having racked up 39 quarterback pressures and seven quarterback hits as well. He had one of the best games in his career last week, recording 3.0 sacks on Russell Wilson as part of the Rams’ strong defensive performance. If St. Louis can get similar production from Hayes against San Francisco, it will give a significant boost to the unit.

3) Trumaine Johnson - No. 22

Johnson just won’t stop intercepting passes. He’s now tied for No. 3 in the league with seven interceptions, with Kansas City’s Marcus Peters and Cincinnati’s Reggie Nelson tied at the top spot with eight. After last week’s matchup, Johnson has now picked off a pass in each of his last four games. Since entering the league in 2012, only Richard Sherman has more career interceptions than Johnson. With wideouts Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith playing at a high level, Johnson should get his share of pick opportunities again this week.

4) Kenny Britt - No. 18

Britt has seemingly found a nice rapport with quarterback Case Keenum, as the timing between the two players has looked strong in the last two games. Keenum hit Britt in stride for a 60-yard touchdown pass two weeks ago against Tampa Bay, and last week the quarterback-wide receiver pair connected on a 28-yard touchdown strike. Keenum said this week it’s easy to make those kinds of throws when Britt is making plays. With the quarterback often looking for him, Britt is one to watch for a big play.

5) Aaron Donald - No. 99

The young defensive tackle has one final chance to make an impression in his candidacy for Defensive Player of the Year. He already has 11.0 sacks, 22 tackles for loss, 44 quarterback pressures, 25 quarterback hits, and a pair of forced fumbles from the interior this season. He’s still just a half-sack away from the franchise record for a defensive tackle, set by D’Marco Farr in 1995. It would not be a surprise if he broke the mark on Sunday.