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What the 49ers and Rams Had to Say Ahead of NFC Championship Game

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan on the 49ers and the Rams Pass Rush Defense

We've done a real good job with it. We've gotten stronger as the year has gone and I thought we did a hell of a job versus them last game, which was huge for us, especially in that second half. Their pass rush, it's as good as it gets also. The individuals that they have, especially. It all starts with (Aaron Donald) 99 who is just a generational talent and what he attracts to give someone a chance to stop him. You have to worry about that, but then you add in all the guys around him and some pretty good coverages with it. So usually the teams at this point in the year all have good pass rushes. I think it's pretty hard to get to this point when you don't have one. But I think we're two of the top.

Shanahan, Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and Kicker Robbie Gould on How the Team Prepares to Face the Rams for the Third Time in a Row

Shanahan: When you're going against a team, like us going against the Rams or them versus us, there's not much to soak in. We knew what the tape was going to look like before we turned it on, and they are the exact same way. When you have something like that, I think it makes for a little bit more fun of a football game, because it's truly what it's about. It's just a football game and everyone's going to go out there and a lot is on the line. We're going to play as hard as we can. They're going to play as hard as they can and we are going to see who makes the most plays and who makes the least mistakes.

Garoppolo: These guys know us, we know them. There's really no secrets or anything like that. So it's about going out there, beating your man and executing. Other than that, it's just football.

Gould: Biggest thing it's coming down to execution. It's coming down to the least penalized team, the least amount of turnovers and at the end of the day it's literally about playing our brand of football … I'm not shocked that they're in the NFC Championship by any means and we're familiar with them, they're familiar with us and it's going to be a great game.

Shanahan on Rams Outside Linebacker Von Miller

Watching him throughout the year, you can tell he keeps getting healthier. I know he was a little banged up when he came over from Denver. But you could tell he keeps getting healthier, is getting more comfortable and they've got as good of a group as I've ever seen. And to add Von Miller with the people they already have, with their scheme and everything, everyone saw it last week versus Tampa and that's usually how it's going to look. So hopefully you get them to play some other stuff and we can make it a different type of game, but that's what these guys are made for.

Shanahan on Rams Wide Receiver Cooper Kupp

Shanahan: He's been pretty good since he got in. They're throwing the ball a little bit more, Stafford's helped him some, but he was pretty dang good when Jared was there too. The more experience he has, everyone knows how smart he is, how talented he is and he's only going to get better. It's not just his body, it's his mind, how he prepares and his natural feel of the game. Usually the good ones – the great ones, are like that.

Garoppolo on the Faithful Traveling to SoFi Stadium

Faithful travel tremendously. When you get your fans behind you like that on a road game, I mean before the game even started there was a lot of red, you could see it. Once we start making plays and they start getting loud it just changes the momentum of the game. You can feel it on the sidelines, it's not something you could really put your finger on but you could feel it, you could hear it and our team responds well to that. Hopefully the Faithful will be out there loud and proud, I know they're trying.

Linebacker Fred Warner and Offensive Coordinator Mike McDaniel on How the Team is Performing at this Point in the Season

Warner: We're one of four teams still in it. Everybody's peaking right at the right time and that's what the season's about, that's what football's about. You've got to make sure you're playing at your best when your best is needed and we're going to need everybody's best on Sunday.

McDaniel: On Sunday the Rams are going to get a best shot, they're one of the best football teams in the world. But how fun is it to just say "okay, let's go give it our best shot." We feel like we can play and beat anybody, but guess what, so do the Rams. It's awesome to be a part of it, it's the coolest thing in sports and why professional football and specifically the championship games are so cool.

Tight End George Kittle on a Diagnosis of the Rams

It's the NFC Championship, so win or go home. The Rams are a fantastic football team who have found ways to win the last two weeks and completely routed an Arizona team that we didn't beat and then they went down in Tampa and beat Tom Brady and the Bucs, so they're as dangerous as ever with stars all over the field. That's all we're focused on, the opportunity to play football against the Rams, the division rival.

Special Teams Coordinator Richard Hightower on the Rams Special Teams Unit

When I look at the Rams, they're a very, very good unit. They have a really good returner in (Brandon) Powell, he's outstanding. He's averaging over 15 yards a return right now, they're doing a good job of blocking for him on punt return. Johnny Hekker is a phenomenal punter, he does a really good job of limiting returns, so he's a challenge. He's been good for years. Matt Gay, their kicker, was the Pro Bowl representative this year. He's outstanding and he does a great job on kickoffs, he does a great job on field goals, he does a great job limiting returns and making it tough for you. So we just have to do what we did last week and do what we do every week and it's play technique and fundamentals and go out there and give our best effort and just be resilient and fight to the end. That's what this team is. That's what we all are, are fighters. So we'll just fight to the end and hopefully the ball bounces our way.

Miller and Rams Head Coach Sean McVay on a Diagnosis of the 49ers

Miller: They have a tough team. You know they have a very physical front, very physical team, everybody out there from tight end, fullback, quarterback, offensive line, even the receivers. It's just a tough, physical team and when I go out there I just try to give my best every time I'm out there.

McVay: This is a really good football team. We have a lot of respect for them. We're competing and preparing to the best of our ability to go out and see if we can advance. But this is a really good team. Kyle's an excellent coach, they have great players, great coaches, good schemes and that's why they're in the NFC Championship … They're peaking at the right time and they're playing really good football which has been illustrated in the last handful of weeks.

Miller, Kupp and Offensive Coordinator Kevin O'Connell on Wide Receiver Deebo Samuel

Miller: His name, it explains who he is. I've learned two games when I played him. I figured out why they called him Deebo, and his name is definitely fitting for him for sure.

Kupp: He's just an incredible football player across the board. For him to be able to step in there and do the stuff he's doing out of the backfield, having the ball handed off to him, the production he's able to create for that offense, in the pass game and in the run game, the physical nature that he plays this game to get downhill and break tackles. Then as a receiver to still be able to have the nuance as a receiver and be able to get open down the field at the speed to stretch things vertically and be able to catch the ball the way he does and then rack how he does – he's really a very special player. I've watched a lot of Deebo Samuel, he's a challenge for sure.

O'Connell: You see him have such an impact on the game. He's an elite receiver obviously, but he's unbelievable with the ball in his hands after the catch. No secret when he lines up at running back. There's a purpose and a plan to that and you can see why. He's incredibly physical, gets going downhill and still has the lateral ability to make people miss. I know our guys got a real challenge playing against him. He's had an unbelievable season and he's not afraid to have an impact in the running game as well.

Miller and Rams Quarterback Matthew Stafford on Garoppolo and the 49ers Offensive Line

Miller: He has a great offensive line, he has the best left tackle in the league. Plus he throws it pretty quick. I don't know the stats on his time to throw, but I'm sure it's up in top five if not if not number one or two. He is very decisive, he has very capable receivers and tight ends and running backs, he doesn't have to wait for them to get to the top of their route he could just throw it to them in the flat. John Lynch has definitely built an amazing team over there for the tough guys and he's able to make decisions, get the ball out super fast and he has a very good offensive line up front as well.

Stafford: I definitely have a ton of respect for how he plays the game and what he's been through. He's a guy that's battled through playing with a couple injuries, but he dominates the middle part of the field. I mean, that guy is as good as it comes when it comes to throwing into tight windows and getting his guys opportunities in there to catch and run. Jimmy's playing at a really high level, he's helping their offense be as efficient and explosive as they are. He's running the show over there and he's gotten to this point, so I'm happy for his success.

Miller and McVay on Comparing Garoppolo and Stafford

Miller: They both can throw the ball extremely well. They're both capable, they both have big arm strength. I see Matthew Stafford do it on Sunday, if they need to shuffle around and get the first down they're capable of that as well. They're both rock stars.

McVay: "He's a fearless competitor. It seems like his teammates love him, he's got a nice authentic way about himself just watching from afar and I feel the same about Matthew.

Stafford on the 49ers Pass Rush

That's what the 49ers as a defense feed off of. They have a great, very disruptive rush and do a great job on the back end of converting when they get their hands on the football, so we got to make sure that we are cognizant of that. Trying to make sure that we're taking care of the football while still being aggressive and taking our chances and our shots when we get those. It's a defense that the last few weeks has been really tough to move the ball, so we'll have our work cut out for us.

Stafford and Defensive Coordinator Raheem Morris on How the Rams Prepare to Face the 49ers for the Third Time in a Row

Stafford: It's two really good football teams going after each other. Seeing each other twice this year, going to see each other for a third time, there's not a bunch of secrets. Just who can step up to the plate and make the plays when we need to make them.

Morris: These guys do a great job. They're good friends of mine off the field, I don't like them this week, it is what it is. We've got to find a way to get a win and find a way to stop these guys from moving the ball down the field and scoring touchdowns. The only way you do it is to affect the quarterback, so we got to find ways to affect Jimmy. Last game we played him, we got up to a big lead and pretty much dared Jimmy to beat us and he went out there and beat us and that's really fresh in our minds and fresh in our memories.

McVay on Comparing Kupp and Samuel

They're great football players that are complete receivers. They're obviously both really dynamic with the ball in their hands. Some of the things that Deebo does when he's lined up as a running back is really special stuff. I mean, this guy, he's a great football player that when the ball's in his hands, good things happen. He can separate, he can line up anywhere on the formation. Cooper's very similar, we're just not giving him carries from the dot and from the offset gun … You're talking about two well-deserved first-team All-Pro players, two guys that have been instrumental in getting their teams to where they're at and I've got tremendous respect for Deebo and I'm so appreciative to be able to work with a player like Cooper Kupp.

McVay on the 49ers Special Teams Unit

In Green Bay's win the other day, where you saw they ended up getting the block punt for a touchdown. Richard Hightower does a tremendous job, I've known him for a long time. It's going to be two good units going at it.

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