A week ago, the Rams envisioned running back Christian McCaffrey possibly making his Rams L.A. 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 in a 49ers uniform.
Even if the defending Super Bowl-champion Rams are unable to find a trade partner for Akers, the estranged running back probably won’t be in the building.
But receiver Van Jefferson, center Brian Allen and cornerback Troy Hill will return from injuries and play as the 3-3 Rams begin a stretch of 11 consecutive games.
That much 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 amassed 158 total yards for the Panthers.
Last Thursday, the 49ers outbid the Rams in a trade for McCaffrey.
“You thought, ‘Oh [shoot], they get another great player?” McVay said during a videoconference with reporters.
With one day of practice, McCaffrey on Sunday rushed for 38 yards 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 during the regular season since 2018, a streak of seven games that includes a 24-9 defeat on Oct. 3.
“He’s a phenomenal player,” McVay said of McCaffrey, adding, “You know what a great job Kyle and his staff do of maximizing and utilizing versatile offensive weapons.”
The Rams have been shopping Akers for a week, but they have yet to find a trade partner.
“As of right now, he’s on our team, he’s on our roster,” McVay said.
McVay reiterated that he would not rule out Akers’ return to the running back rotation.
“Definitely still an option for him to come back,” McVay said, adding, “We’re open to a couple different things as far as having some clarity and finality to this situation.”
McVay, however, said Akers could work out “kind of individually” this week. Asked if he expected Akers to play against the 49ers, McVay said, “it’s more than likely” he would not.
“But I don’t want to pigeon-hole myself into kind of speaking in absolutes,” McVay said. “But I’d say if you were to go to Vegas and you’re betting odds, it’s less likely that he would be available.”
Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown are other running backs on the roster. Ronnie Rivers could be elevated from the 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 since undergoing knee surgery during training camp. Jefferson had surgery on the same knee after the Super Bowl.
Jefferson’s return could jump-start a passing attack that featured star receiver Cooper Kupp nearly exclusively the first five games. Against the Panthers, Allen Robinson produced what the Rams hope was a breakthrough 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 looming, the Rams offensive line remains a hodgepodge.
Allen had been sidelined since suffering a knee injury in the season-opening loss to the Buffalo Bills and undergoing surgery. His return could offer some stability.
Alaric Jackson will play left tackle in place of Joe Noteboom, who suffered a season-ending Achilles injury against the Panthers.
Bobby Evans is expected to continue starting at left guard in place of injured David Edwards. Oday Aboushi and Matt Skura could play at right guard, with Rob Havenstein at right tackle.
Coleman Shelton remains on injured reserve because of an ankle injury.