As head coach, Shanahan, 42, had the upper hand over McVay, 36, but this year the Rams have closed the talent gap by aggressively building their squad. General manager Les Snead traded most of the team’s draft capital for full-back Jalen Ramsey in 2019, followed by full-back Matthew Stafford and full-back Von Miller this season. Widespread recipient Odell Beckham Jr also joined mid-year as a free agent.
Although his 17 regular-season interceptions were a first in the league, Stafford also hit 4,886 yards and 41 touchdowns, both top numbers. Cooper Kupp leads the league in yards (1,947), contact (145) and touch (16), and Beckham becomes a reliable second choice, giving the Rams the big playing options McVay enjoys using. Used to lengthen the defense.
Stafford can make mistakes, though, and the 49ers’ defense has shut down the Rams in two games this season. The front line of Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead, beyond Arden Key, is a powerful force. Key especially was a surprise. Signed as a free agent after three years with the Raiders, Key had 6.5 goals in the net, 17 midfield hits and five rescues for the loss. All in all after this season, the defensive front has helped keep two of the best fouls in the league – Dallas and Green Bay – to 27 points, and has done so on both occasions.
Los Angeles’ offensive line-up allowed seven sacks in the last two games against San Francisco, and had to protect Stafford from rushed passes so the receiver could exploit the 49ers’ weakness, a weakness.
In contrast, San Francisco’s offense was predicted based on odd movements and action passes in the midfield, which were then triggered by the quick launch of Jimmy Garoppolo (in two encounters). most recently, Garoppolo’s throws count as leaving his right hand within 2.35 seconds, according to NFL NextGen Stats).
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/30/sports/49ers-rams-nfl-playoffs.html Rams vs. 49ers: What to watch in NFC championship game