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San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo (finger) says it feels like his hand is ripping apart whenever he throws the ball these days so chances are rookie backup Trey Lance will get the starting nod in this one, their chances in this must-win NFC West battle will depend mostly on how well the Niners’ 4th ranked defense can play and stop the Rams’ deep threats from scoring.
If the 12-4 L.A. Rams hope to steal the number one NFC playoff seed from the 13-3 Green Bay Packers, they at least need to win in Week 18, a job that veteran QB Matthew Stafford should be up for now that he is beginning to adjust to HC Sean McVay’s complicated offense, and it does help to have deep threat WRs Odell Beckham Jr. and Cooper Kupp to target.
These two NFC West rivals have played each other 144 prior times (including 1 postseason game), with the Los Angeles Rams winning 67 of those games and the San Francisco 49ers winning 74 of the games, plus there have been three ties.
The Forty-Niners are battling it out with the Saints to earn the last NFC wildcard playoff seed, so a win over these Rams is imperative for that goal to be achieved, and it will be up to San Fran’s 4th ranked defense to carry the load here, especially give QB Jimmy Garoppolo’s injured finger.
The Niners will most likely be led by backup QB Trey Lance, so it could take some time for his offense to get warmed up and into the endzone, and in the meantime it will be key for DC MeMeco Ryans group to put pressure on QB Stafford and tight coverage on his deep threats.
This defense allows the opponent to score just 21 points per game, a total that rookie QB Trey Lance’s offense beat just one of the two times he has started this season under center, his record of 1-1 respectable, especially if he can add another check in the W column this weekend.
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One of the main complaints Rams HC Sean McVay seemed to have with his prior QB Jared Goff was the kid was not sophisticated or physically talented enough to effectively run the type of offense he has in mind for the team, a style that involves a lot of moving parts and audibles.
Now that McVay has QB Matthew Stafford under center, he has a smart veteran with a strong and accurate throwing arm who can manage his offense now better than ever, a tricky feat to accomplish given how he was thrown into the mix and expected to be up and running.
As Stafford learns all the ins and outs and jet motions and deep routes of McVay’s offensive game plan, expect it to be even more effective than it already is, the Rams with the sixth most productive offense right now, the perfect squad to challenge these frisky Niners.
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There are two Bosa brothers in the NFL now, the older one (Joey) playing for the Chargers and the younger one, Nick, wreaking havoc for the Niners, this third-year pro able to chase down the football with surprising agility and speed for a 6’ 4” 266 pound EDGE rusher.
An Ohio State Buckeye just a few years ago, Nick Bosa has quickly adjusted his game to the pro level of speed, his instincts and football IQ giving him a constant jump on the ball, this season with 15 sacks, 30 quarterback hits, 4 forced fumbles and 47 tackles, 19 for a loss.
Keep an eye on #97 as he shifts from either side of the defensive line, but he is also quick enough to defend passes (he’s done it once this season), and will no doubt be a huge factor in a forty-niners win if it goes that way, another Bosa making game-changing plays on a Sunday.
It is rare that a wide receiver’s name is brought up when the conversation is about the league MVP, but these days you hear Cooper Kupp being mentioned as an alternative to the obvious choice for that coveted award (that being the unvaccinated Aaron Rodgers).
What a season the heathy Kupp is having, starting in all sixteen games and throwing his 6’ 2” 208-pound body around so cleverly that QB Matthew Stafford has had great success connecting with him, so far with 138 receptions for 1,829 yards and 15 touchdowns, all first in the NFL.
Now that the Rams also have a new deep threat in OBJ (late-season pickup Odell Beckham Jr.) to distract safeties and pull in the double teams, expect Kupp to continue to get open and earn yards after the catch, his ability to avoid tackles beginning to annoy opponents.
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|49ers vs Rams Information
|San Francisco 49ers vs Los Angeles Rams
|SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California
|Sunday, January 9, 2022; 4:25 PM ET
|How to watch
Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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