49ers’ streak vs. Rams: How Kyle Shanahan has outcoached Sean McVay in the last six meetings

The 49ers are hoping to win a lucky seven against the Rams in Sunday’s NFC Championship game (18:30 ET, Fox). San Francisco has defeated its NFC West in the state’s arch-rival six times in a row. It should give it a lot of confidence to beat Los Angeles for the third time this season to get to Super Bowl 56.

The teams’ head coaches, Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay, have been tied together when former prominent offensive coordinators in Washington became outstanding head coaches in the same division. So how has Shanahan outcoached McVay so consistently with his players surpassing the Rams?

There are several reasons for the dominance. The 49ers’ average margin of victory has been nearly nine points in all two-game series since 2019. The Rams beat the 49ers twice in 2018, but that was when Shanahan’s team was still in rebuilding mode.

Here’s an overview of why the Niners have had the Rams’ number and whether it will continue in the biggest matchup between the teams since the NFC title fight 31 years ago:

1. Smart offensive game plans

The 49ers’ offense is balanced, versatile and explosive against most teams. The Rams have had a strong defense anchored by defensive tackle Aaron Donald in front and boosted by others such as cornerback Jalen Ramsey and edge rusher Von Miller. But San Francisco has countered with fine offensive line play to limit Anders and slide Los Angeles down with the running game.

The 49ers have averaged 123 rushing yards against the Rams in the last six games. They have used the race well to control the clock – also protecting their defense and keeping the potent Rams offensive off the field – and lined up calculated mid-to-deep shots in the passing game. In the critical week 18 comeback win, the 49ers held on with two TDs in the second half, and it paid off late in overtime.

Shanahan has also done well in planning the game around Donald and Ramsey, finding the more favorable matchups when he encouraged his QB to get the ball out quickly. That’s why the unknown wideout Jauan Jennings was such a big factor in the last meeting.

Jimmy Garoppolo’s confidence in the link

Garoppolo missed a game against the Rams last season due to injury. But he has 6-0 against them in his career. He has not been perfect or always efficient, but he has worked hard to make the right passes at the right moments.

With the urgent skill, he has been able to get the ball down the field with high yards per. experiments. Garoppolo has also maximized the matchup nightmares that his best passers-by can create.

3. Deebo Samuel and George Kittles 1-2 strokes

Samuel has been healthy in all six fights. Kittle has missed one. Samuel was quiet against the Rams when he was a rookie who first played against them in 2019, but he has been a key factor in either receiving or rushing since. Kittle has also caused the Rams’ weaker linebacker and safety coverage lots of issues with his size, strength and speed.

Ramsey may not be everywhere and cover everyone. Samuel and Kittle are hard to take away because of the way Shanahan can move them around. The Rams were so worried about them in Week 18 that Jennings and No. 2 wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk resigned.

Strong defensive front play

49ers, when on the right and healthy, can create a ton of pressure by just rushing their front four. It’s relieved by Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead making chaos from both ends. They have collected 15 sacks against the Rams in the six-game winning streak. It has also pushed the Rams to critical errors.

5. Force key withdrawals

The 49ers have had some of their own offensive turnover problems during the streak, but they have also taken the ball from the Rams 11 times in six games. Takeaways all seem to come at appropriate times, either to help San Francisco in a close game or to put Los Angeles away in a blowout.

6. Third-down dominance

Since the 49ers are running well and finding short-to-medium passing success, it makes sense that they are so good at moving the chains on the Rams, which is related to consistently winning the possession battle. The 49ers have converted by 45 percent (37 of 82) in the last six games. Their defense has dominated on the third down due to stopping the race on early downs and speeding the ball well in obvious passing situations. The Rams have converted by just 35.1 percent (26 of 74). It has been a huge advantage.

7. Home state benefit

No wonder the Rams are trying their best ticket tactics for Sunday’s game. It’s not like they want a home court advantage, but more so that 49ers fans from Northern California and the surrounding areas do not come down to take over LA (again). The Rams have been erratic around Southern California, and they have paid the price with a small fan base relative to the massive market size. They have met some support in Santa Clara. Unfortunately for the Rams, the Niner Nation will have its heart in San Francisco, and its soul will be present in the SoFi Stadium.

There is nothing magical about the 49ers who own the Rams. They have won the most important battles and it has added full control over the war. The real surprise would be that the trend does not continue in favor of the 49s. It requires good coaching and stable execution to shut down Rams. The 49ers have it in spades with Shanahan.

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