The San Francisco 49ers are 4-0 to open the season. They will head to Los Angeles to take on the defending NFC Champion Rams. This will be San Francisco's first divisional matchup of the season. Here's what both teams are saying prior to Sunday's contest.
Kyle Shanahan on what challenges the Rams present the 49ers:
"They have challenges all over. They're a very good team, they've got a very good special teams, a very good defense, very good offense. Their offense has been one of the best, if not the best, here for the last two years, going on a third year. They've been very good at running the ball, very good at throwing the ball. Their defense, they've given up some yards, some points and stuff, but they're an opportunistic defense with very good players, smart coaches and they can create turnovers. They've got a very good team and it's not a surprise why they were in the Super Bowl last year."
Shanahan on the emphasis on a divisional matchup:
"I look forward to playing the Rams every time we get a chance to. I know they are a good team and it's always a challenge for us. I've been in the NFL for a while and we've played against a lot of teams. I know that the Rams have been at the top of our division these two years and have had two great years. We are trying to get to where they've been. I know it's a big challenge for us this week. Everyone is talking about our record, but we are four games into the season. It's only four games which doesn't mean much. It's our first game in, the division and the best way to get to the playoffs is to win your division. That starts on Sunday."
Shanahan on what the key will be to defeating the Rams on Sunday:
"It always starts with turnovers. The last two times we played them, I feel like the game's almost been over before halftime. You come in and turn the ball over, whether it's been interceptions, fumbles, blocked punt, it's been tough to just get in a normal game to compete. We've got to start out fast and make this a game. Hopefully we find a way to win it at the end."
Shanahan on his impressions of Rams quarterback Jared Goff:
"I'm a huge Jared Goff fan. He's one of the more underrated quarterbacks in this league. I think he's as accurate as anyone – he reminds me a lot of [former Houston Texans QB] Matt Schaub when I had him in Houston. I think Goff has done a great job. I think he's one of the reasons they were in the Super Bowl last year and I think he's one of the reasons they're playing at a very high level this year."
QB Jimmy Garoppolo on how quickly he shifted his focus to the Rams:
"As quickly as you can. You go home, look at the film from the game and everything and then it's onto the Rams. This week will happen fast, coming off the long bye week and the Monday night game, so it'll be a little different for us."
Garoppolo on his impressions of the Rams defense through the first five weeks of the season:
"They are very stout up front, very impressive defensive line, linebackers, DBs run and cover the field very quickly, get sideline to sideline and they are going to put stress on you offensively and make you march the ball."
Garoppolo on what it would means to beat the Rams on Sunday:
"It would be good. It would be a good step in the right direction. Like I said, this game is the most important game for us and we have treated every game like that. So, I think if we keep that up, we will be in a good spot."
DL Nick Bosa on what he's seen from Goff:
"Super accurate. If you let him have time in the pocket, he loves the play action. Max protection. Just sit back there. He has a lot of time usually. When he has time he's one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the league. It's just a matter of getting to him and making him throw off balance."
Bosa on what it would mean to beat the Rams:
"This is the first division game. They've had our number the past couple of years. It's time to flip the script."
CB Richard Sherman on the divisional matchup:
"It's business as usual. It's a division game so obviously you win your division, you get into the playoffs automatically. I guess there's heightened expectations in that respect. At the end of the day it's just another opportunity for us to go out there and compete and to have a good time. Share the field with our brothers. That's what we look forward to. This is a challenge this week and that's what we're focused on. Trying to win this ballgame."
TE George Kittle on the importance of this Week 6 game:
"Divisional game and they've whooped us the last couple times we've played them. The time that we did win, they were sitting a bunch of their starters. This will be a fun one. We might not be full-go, we're missing some tackles and our fullback. I think that we're ready for this more mentally as a team than we have in the past."
Robert Saleh on how equipped the 49ers defense is to take on the Rams high-powered offense:
"You know, I don't know if it's better equipped or anything like that. They have loaded up points except for when they had that backup playing, I don't remember his name. Bring him back, no, I'm just kidding. They're very talented. All this narrative that they've taken a step back, I don't see it. They're putting up points at a rapid rate, their drop-back game is better than I've ever seen it, their play-action pass and run game is still there. Los Angeles Rams head coach] Sean [McVay] and his staff still do an unbelievable job calling plays, setting things up. When you're out of the first 15, which is always exotic with this system, it's not over. Just like with Kyle, when you're out of the 15, it's just starting. First 15, because you've got to be on it with what you've shown, what your players look like, what holes are being filled in, and you've got to be able to coach on the sideline to make sure that all those holes that we're putting on tape are filled because that's what they're looking at. It's a great challenge for us. It doesn't matter who we have on the football field, because schematically and team-wise, this is by far our greatest challenge."
Take a look at the best images from Wednesday's practice as San Francisco prepares for its divisional matchup against the Los Angeles Rams.
Head coach Sean McVay on the challenges the 49ers defense presents for Jared Goff:
"Really, like anything else, you've got to make sure that you're doing a great job playing within the timing and rhythm of the pass plays that we end up activating. Then, also, two hands on the ball in the pocket. These guys do a really good job of being able to create pressure on the quarterback. Sometimes, in a lot of their instances, it's with a four-man rush where they're playing loaded zone or coverage behind it. They play really hard, they attack the football. I think one of the things that you see consistently among all the great defenses around this league, is there's a consistent mindset and mentality of attacking the football, trying to get it back for your offense. You can see they've done an excellent job of forcing those turnovers and that's why I think you've seen such a huge amount of success, specifically for their defense so far."
McVay on the 49ers defense presenting problems for the Rams screen game:
"It is. That's a great point, because when you've got [49ers LB Fred] Warner and you've got [49ers LB Kwon] Alexander that have such a good speed and really just they've got great team speed overall. I think getting (49ers DB Jimmie) Ward back as a safety really adds another element. Him and [49ers S Jaquiski] Tartt, you see [49ers CB Richard] Sherman playing at a high level and I thought [49ers CB] Emmanuel [Moseley] did a great job stepping in at the comer spot, because [49ers CB Ahkello] Witherspoon had played really good football up to that point. Anytime that you see these guys, they pursue really hard to the football, but then when there's a screen game, whatever it is, they do an excellent job getting out of the stack. Even up front, being able to say, 'All right we're going to really play the pass through the run,' the way that they come off especially with their front four, some of the new philosophies they have with the defensive line coach. It really puts a lot of pressure on an offense and I think it's a big reason why they've been so successful. The overall team speed and I think the consistent energy and juice that they play with, snap to whistle, snap in, snap out, first snap to the last snap. That shows up on the tape."
McVay on the 49ers defensive improvements:
"It's a great system. They've got great players and I think you can see there's a clear-cut identity, but really on all three levels of their defense, they've got great speed, they play really well together, I think they're opportunistic, but they create their opportunities in terms of taking the ball away. There's an intentional approach that they take to attacking it. They've got guys stood up, guys are jabbing at the football, ripping at it. They've got guys with ball skills, you look at Sherman, his ball production is second to none over the last few years and there's a very clear-cut philosophy. Anytime that you consistently can apply as much pressure as they've done with four-man rushes, now you're able to play seven guys in coverage behind it. They do an excellent job playing vision zones, they've started to make sense of matches, they can play man coverage and then they can activate some different pressures. When you flip the tape on, it looks like one of the best defenses in the league. You're seeing it show up and [49ers defensive coordinator] Robert Saleh is a guy that I've always had a huge amount of respect for, just knowing him and the coaches that they have on their staff, really as a whole. I think you're seeing why they're good and they've got the players to match it and there's a clarity. It's a great matchup."
To find out more about Sean McVay's history with the 49ers click here.
QB Jared Goff on what he saw from the 49ers defense on Monday night against the Browns:
"They played well, they are playing really well right now, especially up front defensively. They are coming off the ball well and that d-line is playing with a different type of energy and on the back-end they are really good. At linebacker, I always thought Kwon Alexander and Fred Warner are great players. I think even last year as a young player, Warner was really picking it up quickly and was a lot better from week-to-week, the first time we played them, the second time we played them. All guys have to be aware and they do a good job."
Goff on what makes Richard Sherman such a good corner:
"He's just so smart. He's a really smart player. I think he's had the issue with the Achilles in the past and right now you see him fully healthy doing his thing. He's a great player. He's always been a great player. Again, I think he's just so smart and you can tell the way he reads patterns and understands offense and understands how we're trying to attack a defense. Makes it tough on us."
Pass Game Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach Shane Waldron on what challenges come from playing the 49ers:
"The challenge is they're playing with great energy, great physicality right now. They've done a tremendous job of creating takeaways. I know last year at certain points the ball didn't bounce their way in creating those takeaways. Certainly, this year, they've done a great job of raking at the ball, ripping the ball out, punching the ball out. Some of those tips and overthrows that have occurred, they've taken full advantage of them and they've enabled themselves to really create those turnovers that have put them in good positions each game."
Waldron on how the presence of Sherman impacts game preparation:
"You really need to be aware of him. Correct me if I'm wrong, I think he's leading the league in interceptions since 2011. He had another great interception this past week, where he's visual on the quarterback and he's running the route before the route even declares itself, just because he's got that great sense, that great awareness. I think, like anything else, when you're playing against a great player and a great player that's seen so many route combinations throughout his career and does such an unbelievable job at pattern matching things, you've just got to be aware of him. You've got to be sure of the throws and the receivers have their part in running crisp routes and making sure that they're really threatening him in all levels there."
Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips on why the 49ers look different this season:
"I think it's their whole team. Obviously, they didn't have any turnovers last year to help their offense. Having Garoppolo certainly gives them stability as far as being able to throw the ball well and accurately, and their running game has just gotten better and better."
Phillips on the challenges the 49ers run game presents:
"They run the football. They've run the football well since Kyle's gotten there, but they've had a couple running backs that have been hurt. I think we played [RB Matt] Breida once, [RB Jerick] Mckinnon never got well, and then know they got [RB Tevin] Coleman, which is a really good back. They've always wanted to run the ball and they've had success running it, but they've had some people banged up that's hurt them some. But now they're at full strength.