First look: 49ers at Rams in NFC championship game
The NFC West rivals meet for the third time this season when the Rams play host to San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game Sunday:
HISTORY LESSON: The 49ers defeated the Rams twice in their NFC West games, extending the Rams losing streak against their rival to six games. In a 31-10 victory on Nov. 15 at Levi’s Stadium, the 49ers manhandled the Rams, setting the tone by scoring a touchdown on an 18-play drive. Elijah Mitchell rushed for 91 yards in 27 carries, and Jimmy Garoppolo completed 15 of 19 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns. The 49ers intercepted two Matthew Stafford passes, returning one for a touchdown. In the season finale on Jan. 9 at SoFi Stadium, the Rams blew a 17-point lead and lost, 27-24. Receiver/running back/kick returner Deebo Samuel hurt the Rams in almost every way, including by throwing a touchdown pass. The Rams have faced the 49ers only once in the NFC championship game. In the 1989 playoffs, the 49ers defeated the Rams, 30-3.
CURRENT EVENTS: Both teams are coming off dramatic victories in NFC divisional-round road games. The Rams survived four lost fumbles and got a heroic game-winning drive from Stafford to defeat the defending Super Bowl-champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and seven-time Super Bowl-champion quarterback Tom Brady. Offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth (ankle) and safety Taylor Rapp could return against the 49ers, coach Sean McVay said Monday. Linebacker Ernest Jones (ankle) also could be activated to the roster. The 49ers have won four games in a row, including a 13-10 victory over the top-seeded Green Bay Packers on Saturday at Lambeau Field. Samuel is nursing knee soreness, and left tackle Trent Williams and running back Jeff Wilson Jr. have ankle sprains, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters.
Over the last three seasons, the Rams and 49ers have nearly identical records — except when it comes to head-to-head meetings involving the two teams.
HOW THEY MATCH UP: Stafford and wide receiver Cooper Kupp form the NFL’s most productive connection. Odell Beckham Jr., Van Jefferson and tight end Tyler Higbee also are threats. Cam Akers has been the lead running back in the playoffs, but McVay said Monday that Sony Michel will be more involved against the 49ers. Garoppolo leads a 49ers offense that features Samuel, Mitchell and tight end George Kittle. Both teams feature aggressive pass rushes. Aaron Donald, Leonard Floyd and Von Miller lead the Rams. Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead lead the 49ers.
Go beyond the scoreboard
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