How Can 49ers Replicate Success Against Rams

There's much on the line for both clubs as the San Francisco 49ers wrap their 2021 regular season campaign against division foe, Los Angeles Rams. Los Angeles has its sights set on staying atop of the NFC West, earning its third division title in the last five years. Meanwhile, San Francisco, who has won five-straight games against Los Angeles, aims to continue their streak and clinch a postseason berth for the first time since their 2019 Super Bowl run.

"We've just done a really good job at playing to our strengths when we do play against them," fullback Kyle Juszczyk said on NFL Now. "Our strength is running the football and controlling the time of possession … We put the time in and we put the work in to make that a strength of ours."

Here's a look at how both teams stack up heading into Week 18:

2021 Comparison

Table inside Article
49ersRams
Total Offense371.1 (10th)378.8 (6th)
Rushing Offense126.9 (7th)101.2 (t-24th)
Passing Offense244.2 (12th)277.6 (5th)
Total Defense312.8 (4th)338.4 (16th)
Rushing Defense106.0 (9th)101.2 (6th)
Passing Defense206.8 (5th)237.2 (20th)
Sacks43 (t-7th)47 (2nd)
Turnover Differential-4 (23rd)+2 (t-13th)

Sunday's contest will look much different from Week 10's game where the 49ers reigned supreme defeating the Rams 31-10. There are still a number of question marks surrounding the quarterback position heading into Sunday. Trey Lance is coming off of his first victory as a starting quarterback after leading the 49ers to nearly three touchdowns in the 23-7 victory over the Houston Texans.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Garoppolo, who has been working through a thumb injury suffered in the Week 16 loss against the Tennessee Titans, returned to practice this week in limited fashion, and looks to resume starting responsibilities. Should San Francisco opt to rely on their rookie signal caller, Lance would need to step into a role where Garoppolo executed 15 completions on 19 attempts for 182 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers in their first meeting in Week 10.

Both quarterbacks will be faced with the challenge of taking on a Rams pass rush which ranks sixth overall in the league with a total of 47 sacks. Headlined by Aaron Donald, the All-Pro pass rusher ranks first in the league with the highest pass rush win rate (27 percent).

Quarterback Comparison

Table inside Article
Jimmy Garoppolo (W10)Trey Lance (W17)Matthew Stafford (W17)
Completions per Attempt15/1916/2326/35
Yards182249309
Yards per Attempt9.5810.838.83
Touchdowns222
Interceptions012
Rating141.7116.096.0

On the other side of the ball, Los Angeles' wide receiver Cooper Kupp is a threat the 49ers will need to keep their eye on. Kupp is on the cusp of closing out the year with one of the greatest seasons by a receiver in NFL history. The wideout leads the league in receptions (138), yards receiving (1,829) and touchdown catches (15), and is in line to be just the fourth receiver in NFL history to lead the league in each of those categories.

Although placed on the COVID-19 reserve list, Ambry Thomas, Dontae Johnson, K'Waun Williams and Jimmie Ward have chances to return in time for Sunday's contest with intentions on disrupting the close to Kupp's historic season.

The 49ers have an opportunity of doing so against quarterback Matthew Stafford who has struggled with turnovers as of recent, notching five interceptions over the last two weeks. Last meeting, Ward was on the receiving end of two interceptions against Stafford, each leading to seven points for the 49ers. Additionally, San Francisco's defense has registered an NFL-high 22 forced fumbles this season, which are also the most by the 49ers in a single season since 1994.

The NFC West is at stake in Sunday's matchup. At the forefront of the division, the Rams hope to enter the postseason with home field advantage. As for the 49ers, the team has had a playoff mindset for the remainder of their regular season games and are fighting for a sixth-straight victory over Los Angeles that will help them clinch a spot in the postseason.

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