The San Francisco 49ers are taking on the Los Angeles Rams in the 2021 NFC Championship Game. For the Rams, it marks their second trip to this round in four years, and for the 49ers, it’s their fifth time in this round since 2010 — edging past the Packers for the most in the conference, and only behind the Patriots for most in the NFL.
This game will mark only the 14th time (sixth in the NFC) in 104 conference championship games (13.5%) that divisional opponents will square off.
What are the keys to the game for each team? Let’s dive in!
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers defy all 21st Century logic when it comes to success on offense. In five career playoff games, Jimmy Garoppolo has dropped back to pass 112 times (102 attempts), and they have had 176 designed runs. Despite a 2:5 TD to INT ratio and a 70.3 passer rating, the Niners are 4-1 when Garoppolo starts at quarterback.
Continuing this strategy will be key to success and an eighth trip to the Super Bowl. They want to limit the number of drives the Rams have in this game. The team does generate sacks, but the pressures outside of sacks aren’t there. So, their coverage is going to have to step up in this game.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are the antithesis of the 49ers. The game for the Rams will come down to Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Tyler Higbee, and the passing game. The weakness of the 49ers is their secondary. Stafford is one of seven quarterbacks to drop back 700+ times this season (regular season and postseason combined). With their weapons and Stafford at the top of his game, this will be the key to winning for the Rams.
In the end, it’s a passing league, and the efficient offenses win with the arm of their quarterback. Sean McVay and the Rams will devise a game plan to take advantage of a weak 49er secondary and that will be the difference in the game.
This game won’t be a blowout by any means, because the Niners will play ball control, and keep the ball out of Stafford’s hands. However, they won’t do it enough, and the Rams will win a closely fought one-possession game.
How to Watch
Kickoff time: 6:40 PM ET
Streaming: Fubo TV
Line: Rams -3 1/2
Moneyline: Rams -210, 49ers +180
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