NFL News & Analysis

NFC Championship Game Recap: Los Angeles Rams 20, San Francisco 49ers 17

Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) catches a touchdown pass against San Francisco 49ers safety Jaquiski Tartt (3) in the first half during the NFC Championship Game at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams snapped their six-game losing streak to the San Francisco 49ers at the right time, earning their berth to Super Bowl 56 with a 20-17 victory in the NFC Championship Game.

These types of games are the reason Los Angeles traded for Matthew Stafford, and it was clear in a tight, fourth-quarter contest that the Rams had the advantage at the game’s most important position. Jimmy Garoppolo went 1-of-6 for -3 yards and an interception on the game’s final two drives with San Francisco’s season on the line, ending the 49ers’ season with a whimper. 

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Los Angeles Rams

Quarterback

Heading into the game, there was a lot of talk about Stafford’s success against the blitz this season, but the 49ers didn’t give him many opportunities to exploit in that department. Stafford was blitzed on just five of his 48 dropbacks in the game. 

The Rams quarterback had an efficient game overall, especially when it came to pushing the ball downfield. He went 8-of-15 for 140 yards and two touchdowns on passes thrown 10 or more yards downfield in the game. Niners safety Jaquiski Tartt should have added an interception to that stat line on a dropped interception in the fourth quarter. 

Running Backs

Sony Michel and Cam Akers split the backfield touches again with a 44-30 edge to Michel. Akers was the more efficient runner of the two, with 48 yards and 40 rushing yards after contact on his 13 carries.

Neither was a factor as a receiver. 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Another week, another big stat line for Cooper Kupp, who finished the game with 11 receptions on 13 targets for 142 yards and two touchdown receptions. 

Odell Beckham Jr. (nine receptions for 113 yards) and tight end Kendall Blanton (five receptions for 57 yards stepping up for an injured Tyler Higbee) also made positive contributions for the Rams in the passing game. 

Offensive Line

Andrew Whitworth and Rob Havenstein were both charged with four pressures (pending review) on 48 pass-blocking snaps. That’s a relatively disappointing outing by their standards, but the group still did a decent job of limiting pressure on Stafford overall. He was pressured on 15 of his 48 dropbacks (31%) in the game. 

Defensive Line

One week after combining for 18 quarterback pressures and wrecking Tampa Bay’s offensive game plan, Aaron Donald and Von Miller combined for seven total pressures against San Francisco, pending review. 

Player Pressures last week Pressures this week
Aaron Donald 8 4
Von Miller 10 3

It was a quiet outing for most of the night for Los Angeles’ star-studded defensive line, but they turned things up late. Garoppolo felt the pressure on his final two drives — a quick three-and-out and a game-sealing interception forced by a Donald pressure.  

Linebackers

Troy Reeder found himself getting picked on in coverage, as do most linebackers going up against a Kyle Shanahan offense. He allowed five receptions on five targets for 73 yards, according to PFF’s first-run analysis of the game. All five of those receptions resulted in a first down for San Francisco. 

Defensive Backs

The Rams have had to mix and match some pieces on the back end, but Jalen Ramsey has remained a constant. He delivered a shutout in this contest.

Ramsey didn’t allow a reception on either of the passes thrown his way. The only thing that could have made his night better would have been if he had capitalized on his two turnover opportunities rather than dropping those interceptions.  

On the other side, Darious Williams was charged with over 100 passing yards and two touchdowns allowed into his coverage. 

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San Francisco 49ers

Quarterback

This game had most aspects of the Jimmy Garoppolo experience. His final stat line — 16-for-30, 232 yards, two touchdowns and one interception — doesn’t look all that bad on the surface, but it was helped by yards after the catch (61% of his passing yards) and a few questionable decisions that didn’t result in turnovers. 

Garoppolo ultimately folded late in the game when the 49ers needed him to step up. It’s why San Francisco traded what they did to go up and get Trey Lance last offseason. 

Running Backs

Elijah Mitchell didn’t play a big role in this matchup. He finished the game with just 20 rushing yards on 11 carries to go along with three receptions for 50 yards. 

Fullback Kyle Juszczyk led all non-Deebo backfield players in offensive snaps with 34. 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Deebo Samuel remains at the center of everything that San Francisco does on offense. He recorded 98 total yards on offense on four receptions and seven carries, highlighted by this touchdown reception in the first half. 

He’s one of the most difficult players in the NFL to tackle and was credited with six missed tackles forced on PFF’s first-run analysis of this game. 

The Rams did a good job of taking away George Kittle, who finished with just two receptions for 27 yards and a touchdown. 

Offensive Line

San Francisco would have wanted the offensive line to control the game today. That didn’t happen. No 49ers offensive lineman recorded a PFF pass-blocking grade above 70.0 on first-run analysis of the game, and they averaged fewer than three yards per carry on designed runs. 

They broke down late in pass protection, as well. Garoppolo was pressured on seven of his nine fourth-quarter dropbacks, according to PFF’s first-run analysis of the game.  

Defensive Line

San Francisco’s defensive line graded out well as a unit in run defense, led by D.J. Jones in the middle. Jones, Kevin Givens and Nick Bosa were all credited with multiple run stops in the game. 

Bosa and Samson Ebukam topped the pressure leaderboard for the 49ers with seven and five pressures respectively, pending review. No one else was credited with more than two for San Francisco. 

Linebackers

Fred Warner made one of the biggest defensive plays of the game for the 49ers when he sniffed out a fourth-quarter screen to get a big third-down stop, holding Los Angeles to a field goal. His three tackles for loss or no gain led San Francisco’s defense. 

Defensive Backs

Stafford and the Rams were able to have some success against San Francisco’s starting cornerback trio of K’Waun Williams, Ambry Thomas and Emmanuel Moseley

All three were charged with at least five receptions and 60 passing yards allowed into their coverage on PFF’s first-run analysis of the game, led by Williams (nine receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown). 

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