clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Last two weeks provide formula for Rams to take down 49ers

Kyle Shanahan is 1-31 when trailing by 3 points or more in the 4th quarter

San Francisco 49ers vLos Angeles Rams Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

It is well documented that the Los Angeles Rams are just 1-8 against the San Francisco 49ers of late, but they came out on top in the game that mattered the most - the 2021 NFC Championship game that earned them a berth to Super Bowl LVI.

Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers team has a knack for making the Rams look downright dysfunctional at times. This was on display back in Week 4 when Talanoa Hufanga intercepted a Matthew Stafford screen pass for a defensive touchdown. It’s something that seems to happen often when the two teams meet up - Jimmie Ward and Fred Warner have made similar plays in the past.

The 2022 version of the Rams - a stout defense pulling along a disjointed offense - cannot afford to give away points, even though they expect to get some reinforcements on offense.

Fortunately for Los Angeles the last two weeks prove the formula for taking down the 49ers, and it’s a recipe that has been perfected by the Atlanta Falcons and the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Rams need to force the 49ers to play from behind, but that’s something easier said than done against San Francisco’s aggressive defense.

The Falcons jumped out to a 14-0 lead just two weeks ago, and Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers were playing catchup the rest of the game. They fell to Atlanta 28-14.

The Chiefs seemed to be in trouble last week when San Francisco jumped out to a 10-0 lead, but KC was able to score two first-half touchdowns while SF settled for field goals on two drives - the result was a 14-13 halftime lead. The Chiefs scored on their first drive of the second half and never really looked back from their 28-16 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Kyle Shanahan’s career record of 1-31 when trailing by 3 or more in the fourth quarter proves a systematic issue with the 49ers. San Francisco wants to run the ball and control the clock, but they struggle when the game script forces them out of that game plan.

Akash Anavarathan over at Niners Nation questioned this week whether the 49ers have a coaching problem, and the root of his questioning boiled down to San Francisco’s ability to play from behind:

I also think the 49ers have a philosophical problem with the construction and mindset of their team. They’re currently built to win one way: run the ball, play exceptional defense, hit explosive plays, and play complementary offense.

When Kyle Shanahan (and his 49ers) don’t have control of the game flow, they seem to have no identity on both sides of the ball. In the last two weeks, opponents have come out and punched the 49ers in the mouth, and they haven’t responded well.

Atlanta jumped out to a 14-0 lead, and the currently-constructed 49ers couldn’t play from behind. Kansas City was throwing haymakers after falling behind 10-0, but the 49ers’ offense couldn’t keep up tit-for-tat with Patrick Mahomes in a shootout.

When the 49ers play their brand of football — bruising, physical, run-heavy, defense-oriented — they’re as good as anyone in the NFL. When things veer off that script, this season’s 49ers’ team tends to wilt under the pressure.

While the Rams have struggled against the 49ers of late, the Falcons and Chiefs showed how to take down LA’s division rival. Will they be able to execute the plan on Sunday?

Los Angeles Rams v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images