The time for speculating on what Sean McVay would do with his starters in Week 18 is over, as the Los Angeles Rams are going to sit Matthew Stafford and start Carson Wentz against the San Francisco 49ers. We should not expect to see Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald, Kyren Williams, and many other key starters either.
According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, the Rams will start Wentz and give him his first opportunity to play in a game in over a year. Also, the 49ers announced that Sam Darnold will start in place of Brock Purdy.
The #Rams will start Carson Wentz at QB Sunday against the #49ers, sources say. Sean McVay gives Matthew Stafford a breather before the postseason while Wentz gets his first start in just over a calendar year. pic.twitter.com/iaVM2xJFI8— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) January 3, 2024
Whether the Rams will give Puka Nacua a chance to break the rookie receiving record is unclear, but it is certainly being talked about in the locker room. Nacua won’t have his starting QB to do it however, which changes the math a little bit.
The Rams are not locked into the six seed in the NFC playoffs, they could still drop to seven if they lose and the Packers beat the Bears, but it is most likely that L.A. will go face the Detroit Lions in the wild card round.
Starting Wentz against the 49ers gives McVay an opportunity to watch his new backup perform prior to becoming a free agent in 2024. L.A. needs a backup quarterback anyway, assuming Stetson Bennett isn’t the answer, and locking in a veteran starter like Wentz for two years would be a great move for a team with a starter who is over 35 and missed action in each of the last two seasons.
The 49ers are not going to play Christian McCaffrey and more names are likely to be announced as out this week, as San Francisco is locked into the top seed.