The Rams' scuffling offense is expected to get a boost Sunday against a divisional foe Los Angeles historically struggles against.
Head coach Sean McVay told reporters Friday the team plans to activate wide receiver Van Jefferson off injured reserve to suit up against the 49ers. Better yet, McVay believes the third-year wideout will be set to go full speed after missing most of training camp and L.A.'s first six games with a knee injury.
"I think he's felt great this week," McVay said, via the team's official transcript. "I think we'll kind of monitor as the game progresses. A lot of it is predicated on, 'All right, are you able to have some continuity with some of your drives and getting multiple plays off?' But the goal is, he's been full speed. He's done a great job this week. We've been able to develop some depth in that room that I think will be helpful to be able to still keep some of those other guys involved. But we're anticipating a normal workload for Van when you've seen him in previous years."
After contributing 19 catches for 220 yards and one score in his rookie year, Jefferson broke out in 2021 with 802 yards and six touchdowns on 50 receptions. His increased production coincided with Matthew Stafford's arrival and Los Angeles' elevation to seventh across the league in points scored, its highest output since finishing 2018 as the second-ranked scoring offense.
This year the Rams rank 26th in scoring and 29th in yards.
Jefferson's absence isn't the sole cause for the Rams' precipitous drop in offensive efficiency this season. Stafford has struggled to consistently connect with receivers outside of Cooper Kupp, and the running game is nearly nonexistent. Los Angeles has averaged 70.5 yards per game on the ground, ahead of only Tampa Bay (61.5).
Still, Jefferson stepping back into the lineup figures to give Stafford another trusted target.
"He's a really special player," Stafford said Wednesday in anticipation of Jefferson's return. "I got to experience some of that last year with his ability to really be a complete receiver. He had some big plays on tape, there's no question he was running by some people, but he's a guy in my mind that can do it all. It's great to have guys like that. The more you can have of those guys, the better."
It remains to be seen how the Rams mix Jefferson in with free-agent addition Allen Robinson, who has struggled to find his footing but did nab his second TD of the season ahead of L.A.'s Week 7 bye. Regardless, Stafford is looking forward to the coverage nightmare created by his top three receivers possessing deep route trees.
"The fun thing about playing in this offense is Cooper's running deep routes, Allen's running deep routes, Van's running deep routes," Stafford said. "Everybody kind of does everything. To have another guy that's of that talent, of that caliber out there is just going to make us better."
Jefferson ran 80.2% of snaps for the Rams last season, behind Kupp (93.8%) and Robert Woods (92.3%) before Woods' season-ending injury.
Time will tell if he hovers around that number Sunday -- and if his return to the field helps usher in a return to form for the offense.