By Stu Jackson, The Rams
The No. 4-seed Rams are back home to take on the No. 6-seed 49ers in the NFC Championship, with the winner advancing to face the winner of Bengals-Chiefs in Super Bowl LVI. Kickoff from SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. on Sunday is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. pacific time on FOX.
In advance of the contest, here is your First Look at Rams-49ers, presented by Audi.
Notable 49ers additions
Selected RB Elijah Mitchell in the sixth round in this year’s NFL Draft: San Francisco’s leading rusher set a franchise rookie record with a team-high 878 rushing yards in 10 games this season, also rushing for five touchdowns.
Re-signed LT Trent Williams to a 6-year deal on March 23: Arguably the most important piece to the 49ers’ offensive line, Williams was brought back on a lucrative deal to anchor the left side of it. His performance during the regular season earned him AP First Team All-Pro recognition.
Top performers in Divisional Round
QB Jimmy Garoppolo completed 11 of 19 pass attempts for 131 yards with no touchdowns and one interception in San Francisco’s 13-10 win at Green Bay.
Mitchell led the backfield with 17 carries for 53 yards, while WR Deebo Samuel added 10 carries for 39 yards.
TE George Kittle was Garoppolo’s top target, hauling in four receptions for 63 yards. Samuel wasn’t far behind with three catches for 44 yards.
The 49ers defense held Packers QB Aaron Rodgers to 225 passing yards and zero touchdown passes while sacking Rodgers five times; DL Arik Armstead and DL Nick Bosa led the way with two each.
On special teams, K Robbie Gould drilled both of his field goal attempts, including the 45-yard game-winner as time expired, plus his lone extra point attempt. P Mitch Wishnowsky averaged 52 yards per punt across five punts.
Early storylines to watch, and what they mean for the Rams
The 49ers head into the NFC Championship game with Williams banged up and his status for Sunday uncertain.
Williams sustained an ankle injury against the Packers, and while his X-rays came back negative, he will be monitored throughout the week. Samuel is sore but OK and expected to practice this week.
Williams also missed the last meeting between the Rams and the 49ers in Week 18 with an elbow injury, and while San Francisco adjusted, his potential absence cannot be ignored, given that he’s one of the best blindside protectors in the NFL.
Taking advantage of that potential advance and getting pressure on the quarterback won’t be enough for the Rams alone, though.
According to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats, Garoppolo had an average time to throw of 2.41 seconds in Week 18. While he threw a pair of interceptions, he was still getting the ball out quickly and putting the 49ers’ skill players in position to make plays by completing 23 of 32 pass attempts.
It’s well-known how effective Kittle and Samuel are after the catch, so it will be important for the second and third levels of the Rams defense to tackle well. And if linebacker Ernest Jones can return this week, it would make a big difference there.