A week ago, the Rams envisioned running back Christian McCaffrey potentially making his Rams LA debut against the San Francisco 49ers at SoFi Stadium and Cam Akers perhaps playing for another NFL team.
McCaffrey will be on the field Sunday but he will be wearing a 49ers uniform.
Even if the defending Super Bowl champions Rams can’t find a trading partner for Akers, the estranged running back likely won’t be in the building.
But receiver Van Jefferson, center Brian Allen and cornerback Troy Hill will return from injuries and play when the 3-3 Rams begin a streak of 11 straight games.
That became clear Monday when Rams coach Sean McVay addressed reporters for the first time since Oct. 17, the day after the Rams defeated the Carolina Panthers 24-10, a game in which McCaffrey had a 158 overall yards for the Panthers.
Last Thursday, the 49ers outbid the Rams in a trade for McCaffrey.
“You were like, ‘Oh [shoot]are you getting another great player?” McVay said during a video conference call with reporters.
With just one day of practice, McCaffrey rushed for 38 yards Sunday and caught two passes for 24 yards in the 49ers’ 44-23 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Now 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has a full week to indoctrinate McCaffrey into an offense that includes receiver/running back Deebo Samuel and tight end George Kittle.
The Rams have not defeated the 49ers in the regular season since 2018, a seven-game streak including a 24-9 loss on Oct. 3.
“He’s a phenomenal player,” McVay said of McCaffrey, adding, “You know what a great job Kyle and his staff do when it comes to maximizing and utilizing versatile offensive weapons.”
The Rams have been buying Akers for a week, but they have yet to find a trading partner.
“From now on he’s on our team, he’s on our list,” said McVay.
McVay reiterated that he would not rule out Akers’ return to the running back rotation.
“Definitely still an option for him to come back,” said McVay, adding, “We’re open to a few different things to bring clarity and finality to this situation.”
However, McVay said Akers was able to train “kinda individually” this week. When asked if he expected Akers to play the 49ers, McVay said “it’s more than likely” he wouldn’t.
“But I don’t want to pigeonhole myself to speak absolutely,” McVay said. “But I would say if you go to Vegas and you have betting odds, it’s less likely that he would be available.”
Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown are other running backs in the roster. Ronnie Rivers could be lifted from practice squad. Rookie running back Kyren Williams remains “at least a week away from” “even starting those discussions” about a possible return from injured reserve, McVay said.
The Rams will welcome back Jefferson, who has been sidelined from training camp since undergoing knee surgery. Jefferson underwent surgery on the same knee after the Super Bowl.
Jefferson’s return could launch a passing attack that star receiver Cooper Kupp featured almost exclusively in the first five games. Against the Panthers, Allen Robinson showed what the Rams are hoping for was a game-changing performance.
Last season, Jefferson caught 50 passes, six for touchdowns, and emerged as a deep ball threat. He averaged 16 yards per catch.
“He brings the big play element,” McVay said.
With the Nov. 1 trade deadline approaching, the Rams’ offensive line remains a hodgepodge.
Allen had been sidelined since sustaining a knee injury and surgery in the season-opening loss to the Buffalo Bills. His return could offer some stability.
Alaric Jackson will play the left tackle in place of Joe Noteboom, who sustained a season-ending achilles tendon injury against the Panthers.
Bobby Evans is expected to continue to start at left flank in place of the injured David Edwards. Oday Aboushi and Matt Skura could play right guard, with Rob Havenstein playing right tackle.
Coleman Shelton remains on injured reserve with an ankle injury.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/rams/story/2022-10-24/rams-on-monday Sean McVay prepares for 49ers and ‘phenomenal’ Christian McCaffrey